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The following is an article that discusses the Neuron ESB Adapter Metadata Generation Wizard; the article appeared on Integration Developer News.

Neuron ESB is breathing new life and capabilities into the trusty enterprise service bus for any-to-any integrations – even to the cloud. Neuron ESB is combining its library of adapters with a new Adapter Metadata Generation Wizard to easily share, add, update or delete data and records across popular on-prem and cloud apps. IDN speaks with Neuron ESB’s John Petersen.

Neuron ESB is combining a library of adapters with a new Adapter Metadata Generation Wizard to speed up how to share data and conduct seamless updates, deletes and adds across popular on-prem and cloud apps, according to John Petersen, Neuron ESB product solutions architect.

“We believe in making integration easier. You shouldn’t have to jump through a lot of hoops to do what is essentially a very simple thing,” Petersen told IDN. “Neuron ESB’s new Adapter Metadata Generation Wizard lets users use middleware to easily build solutions that integrate systems and applications.”

In specific, the Adapter Metadata Generation Wizard design tool automates the ability to either create or identify and capture the metadata (describes the data, content and instructions) that facilitates generating XML, XSD and other information that drives operations (updates, adds, deletes) against data and records in external systems like SAP, NetSuite, Dynamics CRM and Salesforce. This eliminates a lot of guesswork and complexity for those developers trying to tie various systems together.

Neuron ESB already offered adapters for popular applications, including SAP, Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, SharePoint, NetSuite, Azure and others. The adapters make it easier to connect and share data across these apps by eliminating the need to write complex application programming interface code for mediating and translating between different protocols, transports, databases and other connectivity details, Petersen added.

“In a real-world sense, we’re like the translators at the United Nations. Everybody wears a headset allowing the broadcasted message to be understood in multiple languages – at the same time,” he said.

The comparison between language translation and IT integration, Petersen added, is simply this:
“There are systems, like SAP and Salesforce that shouldn’t need to be aware of each other to be bridged together. At one level, they all support an API. But what is the language of each API?” That’s where the embedded translation and communication capabilities of Neuron ESB adapters and the Adapter Metadata Generation Wizard all work together.

“The Adapter Metadata Generation Wizard allows us to quickly ascertain a system’s message in a standardized format like XML or JSON. The generated metadata can then be leveraged by a business process or workflow that among other things can validate, transform and perhaps enrich the message. The Neuron ESB adapters relieve developers from having to understand or work with the underlying API and communication infrastructure related to the systems. For the developer, it just boils down to working with a message. It can’t get much simpler.

Neuron ESB’s Adapter Metadata Generation Wizard Delivers a Code-Free Integration Bridge

To deliver this bridge, the Neuron ESB adapters and metadata produced by the Adapter Metadata Generation Wizard work hand-in-hand.

  • Neuron ESB adapters make it easy to connect to and integrate with various technologies and systems, relieving you from the need to become an expert in every system and technology you have to work with.
  • The Neuron ESB Adapter Metadata Generation Wizard makes crafting these messages easier and more reliable by taking the guesswork out of the process. The Wizard generates XSD Schemas, which can also be used as the foundation for XSLT to transform the canonical formats being published to the messages expected by the subscribing line of business systems. The Wizard also generates sample XML that conform to the requirements of a specific system. Should a schema change, all the developer needs to do is re-deploy the XSD. In other words, there is no need to recompile and redeploy the entire solution.

The combination of the Neuron ESB adapters with the Metadata Generation Wizard means architects have a more unified platform layer for integrating apps and data – and can avoid the need for complex, code-dependent point-to-point approaches or the need for a huge list of discreet URLs. The Metadata Generation Wizard provides organizations with the additional flexibility to expose systems like SAP to existing client-facing applications through any number of protocols and formats hosted and mediated by Neuron ESB.

In addition, Neuron’s one-two combination eliminates the use of tightly coupled and compiled components (that often need to be recompiled for each use case and every customer change request) Neuron ESB’s approach simply requires access to the XSD, without any recompiling or re-deployment.

When Neuron ESB’s Adapter Metadata Generation Wizard generates schema (XSD) and sample data (XML), users can specify various aspects, including:

  • Category Name (in Neuron ESB, we can tag artifacts with a category and filter accordingly)
  • Whether or not to overwrite items that have been previously imported into the Repository Section in Neuron ESB
  • Whether or not to generate sample XML
  • Description (The Wizard uses defaults as specified by the external system. You can alter this text as required.)

A Detailed Look at Neuron ESB’s Support for On-Prem-to-Cloud, SaaS Integration

Neuron ESB’s latest version of a loosely coupled architecture allows users to address some of today’s popular on-prem-to-cloud integration use cases, Petersen added.

“Say you use Salesforce, and now you want to use Salesforce as a single source of truth for all accounts. You’ll want to set it up in a way that every time an account gets created or updated in Salesforce, that same info gets transmitted to all other applications,” Petersen said

This use case often raises two commonly asked questions, he explained:
“First, in general, how does one do that easily and efficiently? Second, what is the message format coming from Salesforce or the format that must go to Salesforce? Both are easily addressed in the Neuron ESB Ecosystem. The first issue is addressed by Neuron ESB itself, via its pub/sub routing and adapter capabilities. Connecting to and passing messages to/from external systems is one thing. It’s another thing to know, understand and validate the message formats.

The second issue is addressed by the design-time Adapter Metadata Generation Wizard. The two work hand-in-hand to provide a complete and comprehensive design and runtime experience,” Petersen said.

To an integration professional, this sounds straight-forward enough, but the devil is in the details, he added. To connect Salesforce and SAP, there are a readily-identifiable number of objects you care about. “But off the top of your head, you may not know the structure of those objects or all their components You could ‘Google’ it, and may hit pay dirt – but all too often this information is deeply embedded in ‘Help’ files or may just be too hard to find,” Petersen said. “Usually, though, the structure of the objects will be documented in their native API, not in a standardized XML or JSON format.” Neuron ESB’s Metadata Generation Wizard was designed for these types of integrations scenarios, and can keep track when data structures change, even from version to version, he added.

The Neuron ESB Adapter Metadata Generation Wizard connects to a Salesforce instance and captures a hierarchical [list of the] catalog of objects that are in there. From this list, users can pick an account and then pick your specific operation [update, add or delete], and the Wizard will automatically generate sample XML as well as XSD for that operation.

As a result, Petersen said, when a message is created by a user to update/delete a record or request information, the metadata associated with the message knows enough about each application to make sure the messages and operations such as create, update, delete are understood by each application. Further, the metadata (i.e. XSD Schema) can be used to validate the message before the message is sent to the external system (Salesforce, SAP, etc.) via the Neuron ESB Salesforce adapter – all without writing any code. In fact, a company typically will use a canonical messaging format (or create or update a taxonomy of topics and subtopics) and then go from that format to the Salesforce format generated by the Adapter Metadata Generation Wizard by using topic-based dynamic routing, he added.

“The alternative, unless you are a Salesforce expert, can be very difficult. And, if you are a Salesforce expert, the question of how you manage the artifacts and process still has to be resolved. Again, this is where the Neuron ESB environment and the Metadata Generation Wizard come into play. Each Neuron ESB solution has a repository that stores, organizes and makes available the metadata for a particular system,” Petersen told IDN.

About the Author

Author's Name
Marty Wasznicky


Marty has almost 30 years of experience in the software development industry. He joined Peregrine Connect after six years as a Regional Program Manager in the Connected Systems Division at Microsoft. His responsibilities there included building out Microsoft’s BizTalk Server product integration business, managing a team of SOA/ESB/BPM field specialists and building strategic partner alliances. Marty created the Microsoft Virtual Technical Specialist program and owned the development of Microsoft’s Enterprise Service Bus Toolkit.

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