August 15, 2016 Leave a comment
One of the many challenges with an integration project is typically the mapping of messages from one API to another. The difficulty most often lies not with the technical implementation (although some former projects mapping SAP iDocs to EDI X12 are still giving me nightmares), but rather with forming the specification of the mapping itself, including understanding the semantical meaning behind each element. This is difficult because it requires expert knowledge of both the source and target system, as well as an analysts who can correct “draw the connecting line” between the two. The correct end result is only achieved through significant collaboration amongst the relevant parties.
The BizTalk Mapper goes a long way to facilitating this task with it’s graphical mapping interface. Aside from providing the developer a means of rapidly implementing a transformation, it also servers as a visual representation of the mapping that can be understood by a business analyst (if not too complex):
(image courtesy of MSDN)
There are two problems with this approach, however:
- It requires BizTalk Server, which is not only expensive, but also may be overkill for a solution that can easily be implemented in WCF, REST, or another platform;
- The mapping must be implemented by a developer before it can be shown to analysts and business users for discussion and validation. This usually entails a number of iterative cycles until the mapping is correct.
Enter api-map.com – a new free online tool created by my colleague Joseph Cooney specifically to address these particular challenges. api-map provides a medium to formulate, display and share mapping documentation which can eventually be handed over to a developer for implementation on any chosen platform.