Data conversion techniques

Here below is an old slide I found in my archives where I list my known techniques for data conversion, i.e. how to push data into Infor M3, also known as data entry. This list intends to remind readers there are more solutions than the traditional techniques.

Data conversionTechniques

Traditional entry points

The two traditional entry points are:

  1. API – The traditional entry point is to call M3 API. Advantages: it’s the fastest and most reliable technique, and the most widespread in terms of platforms supported, libraries, tools, and documentation. Disadvantages: there aren’t M3 API available for every program/field/operation in M3, as given by the M3 API Repository – MRS001.
  2. MDP – When there’s no M3 API available, we use the other traditional entry point, Lawson Web Services (LWS) of type M3 Display Program (MDP) to simulate a user going through the screens at the middleware level in M3 Net Extension (MNE). Advantages: with the Lawson Web Services Designer we can create the equivalent of an M3 API, for most M3 Programs, in almost no time. Disadvantage: it’s less efficient to run than M3 API as there are more layers to traverse.

Those are the traditional techniques. And we massively call them with for example M3 Data Import (MDI), Smart Data Tool (SDT), M3 E-Collaborator (MeC), Visual Basic macros in Microsoft Excel, ProcessFlow Integrator (PFI), Infor Process Automation (IPA), Tibco, WebMethods, or custom Java/C#/VB programs, with the data coming from a source like for example a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet, a CSV or plain text file, or a staging database.

Alternate techniques

If the traditional entry points fail, there are two alternate techniques.

  1. Manual entry – We can always do manual data entry. Advantage: it requires almost no skills, no programming, and no tools. Disadvantage: it can become humanly impossible to manually enter large amounts of data.
  2. MAK – Alternatively, we can write an M3 modification with MAK, to create a new API or modify an existing one. Advantages: it’s the ultimate solution. Disadvantages: it requires an MAK developer, it can take time, and M3 mods create a maintenance problem.

Despair techniques

Then, there are the following techniques which are less know and which I use when I’m at a loss of ideas:

  1. MForms Automation – When there are no M3 API available, and when Lawson Web Services of type MDP fail for rare M3 programs, we can try to reproduce the steps with MForms Automation and write a Smart Office Script that loops thru a data source and executes the MForms Automation at each iteration. This is a proven technique and Seth will soon write a post illustrating this solution. Advantage: It’s the last card on the deck when you lost hope. Disadvantage: It’s less efficient because it’s at the user interface level.
  2. Bookmarks – Similarly, we can write a Smart Office Script to execute Bookmarks in a loop of the form mforms://bookmark?program=CRS620&tablename=CIDMAS&keys=IDCONO…
  3. MNEAI – Likewise, we can inject a piece of JavaScript in M3 Workplace to simulate a user’s data entry, and loop through a data source we get with JavaScript.
  4. H5 Client – We can do the same JavaScript injection for H5 Client.
  5. Macro – We can record the mouse movement and click events, and the keyboard keystrokes, and use a Windows program to replay them. Advantages: It’s the last solution available out of desperation. Disadvantage: it will break at the slightest change in window position or popup, and it will be slow.

Forbidden techniques

Finally, as a reminder, we never use SQL INSERT/UPDATE/DELETE to M3, as that would break the integrity of the ERP, it would bypass the cache of the data abstraction layer, and it would void warranty for support.

That’s it! Thanks for reading. Subscribe below.

Published by

thibaudatwork

M3 Technical Consultant

4 thoughts on “Data conversion techniques”

  1. Hi, Thibaud,

    The MForms Automation tool is very useful. Normally it is used to start a program from the beginning, which may take extra time to launch.

    Is there any a way to check the programs currently running first and if a program in interest is found, such as OIS100, then we can work on that instance directly instead of restarting a new instance? By this way, we can save some time.

    Best Regards,
    Warren

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  2. I want to write a macro that would access pds001, and enter the component value,quantity number and the operation number. What is the code tha tI need to write for my macro to know to looking in M3? Thanks

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    1. Hi Darius,

      You can create an M3 Web Services (MWS) of type M3 Display Program (MDP) to simulate a user going through the panels and fields; there’s no code required for that, it just requires MWS Studio; here’s a good guide: http://movexblog.blogspot.com/2010/02/creating-m3-web-service.html . Then you have to call the web service from a SOAP client of your choice; Infor Smart Data Tool is a good one for data conversion when you have many records to upload.

      Otherwise, you could write a script for Infor Smart Office or a script for H5 Client, that uses MForms Automation to do the steps, and run it somehow; I think the Smart Office and H5 Developer’s Guide have some code.

      In any case, it’s tricky to get it to work because it all depends on M3, on the program (PDS001 in your case), on the user configuration of the panels, etc. You should get some help from someone at Infor that has done it before. If you need paid support, I can help you.

      –Thibaud

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