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.
Traditional entry points
The two traditional entry points are:
- 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.
- 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.
If the traditional entry points fail, there are two alternate techniques.
- 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.
- 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.
Then, there are the following techniques which are less know and which I use when I’m at a loss of ideas:
- 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.
- 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…
- 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.
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.
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