What are Connectors?
Here's how to connect your company's existing software systems with Tulip.
Tulip is an open platform that can integrate with your existing IT infrastructure. This integration is achieved using Connectors.
Connectors are a Tulip feature that allows you to send data between HTTP APIs and SQL databases and Tulip. They are essential to connect to servers and systems outside Tulip, as well as the Table API. Setting up a connector gives you access to pull external information and data into your Tulip apps, broadening your Tulip experience and enabling efficient processes.
Tulip supports 2 different types of connectors:
- HTTP - Use this connector to access data from external APIs.
- SQL - Use this connector to access external databases that are outside Tulip.
To access SQL and HTTP connectors, place the cursor over the “Apps” tab from anywhere in your Tulip account and select Connectors from the Dropdown.
On the Connectors page, users can see if their connectors are online or not and also check which version the connector is on.
Tulip supports the following SQL connectors:
- Microsoft SQL Server
Each Connector can have multiple Connector Functions or queries that will run after being triggered in an app.
Here's an example of a Connector function:
Data protocol connectors can be used by Triggers. For example, you can create a trigger in a Tulip App that says:
- "When the operator scans a barcode"
- "Look up that barcode up in my SQL database"
- "Then go to one of three different steps based on that data."
- "when the operator presses this button"
- "send a request to my HTTP API that tracks production issues on my factory floor."
Both are self-service. As long as you can query a SQL database or external software service (like an MES or ERP), then you can write the query within Tulip.
Below is an example of calling a connector function within a Trigger in the App Editor:
Who can use Connectors?
Most Connectors are self-service. Anyone who is familiar with SQL, for example, can set up a SQL connector and write the SQL queries that will be used in the Tulip app.
Anyone in your organization can use that SQL connector in a Tulip App through Triggers without needing to know SQL after you build the SQL queries.
Running Connectors In A Test Environment
You can use the Environments tab to set up multiple servers for each connector function. This will allow you to automatically run connector functions on a test environment when the app is in development. More details on environments is available here.
Data Types in Connectors
The following data types can be used as Inputs or Outputs in a Connector Function.
- Text can have custom encoding, see Connector Input Encoding Control for more details.
- Images can have custom encoding, see Connector Input Encoding Control for more details.
When you are using Connector outputs, you can "force" one data type into another data type.
So, if the connector outputs a value of type "float", and you want to use it as a "text" value within an app, you should create a "text" output and map it to the float value. The value will be automatically converted to a text value.
You cannot include a period, ".", in the name of an input or output.
Timeouts in Connectors
Connectors have timeouts to prevent lockup while running an application. You should aim for a connector to take no longer than you expect an operator to wait (1-3 seconds max). While building a connector, the test functionality will timeout after 10 seconds.
In production, a connector in an app will timeout after 25 seconds.
Technical Details of Connectors
Since connectors communicate with external systems, you may need to understand how to configure Connectors to fit your custom IT environment.
You will need to understand the Connector Host. It is a module of the Tulip platform that manages connections to these external systems.
When accessing databases and APIs that are openly available from your Tulip Cloud, no additional configuration should be needed. However, if something is not working as expected, or if you would like to connect to a database, API, or machine that is not openly available from the Tulip Cloud; this article on Connector Hosts is a crucial resource.
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