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Business Intelligence Tools and Centerprise

Astera Software’s Centerprise Data Integrator is an easy-to-use and robust data integration tool which can be used for ETL tasks, data quality and profiling. Centerprise seamlessly integrates with various data visualization and reporting tools to create a full-stack Business Intelligence process.

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What is BI Software?

BI software is typically designed to analyze, transform and prepare data for reporting. BI tools use data which has been previously stored and which may or may not be stored in a data warehouse/data mart. BI tools enable users to transform raw data into legible information that enables businesses to make better decisions, which in turn allows for growth and increased revenue.

Centerprise is a complete data integration solution which can be used as a standalone product or can be integrated with other BI tools such as prediction analysis and data visualization tools to achieve a complete data mining and analytics process.

Centerprise provides a scalable, powerful, robust platform which helps in many processes, including: data extraction, data scrubbing, data warehousing, and data migration.

Some of the benefits of Centerprise include:

  • Support for complex hierarchical data
  • Easy to use graphical interface
  • Well-suited for business as well as technical users
  • High-performance and scalable
  • Built-in extensive set of data transformation features
  • Data profiling

    If you’re interested in seeing Astera Software products in action, check out our monthly webinar series! You can find out more on the Astera Software Events page.

Build vs. Buy: How it applies to Enterprise Software

Nowadays, enterprise software is used almost everywhere and at different levels within organizations. It is the lifeblood of most IT departments. One dilemma that tech company leaders face is whether to build a business solution (i.e. custom software) from scratch or to buy commercial, off-the-shelf (COTS) products and mold them according to business requirements.

Some key points when deciding whether to buy or build software are:

  1. The core business requirements, the scope of the problem in question, and the how complex the solution should be in order to fit the business needs and size
  2. Available resources and skills in terms of people, software, hardware, tools, etc. capable of building, maintaining, and supporting the business solution
  3. The amount of time required to develop the solution in-house

Companies that decide to build their own solution tend to overlook issues and expenses, such as:

  1. Replacing existing technology, adding features and functionality to a legacy system is extremely tough and a complete reengineering and rebuilding of business solutions may be needed
  2. A learning curve always comes with building a new software or recruiting additional people with specific skills to build in-house solutions
  3. Higher costs and potentially longer implementation compared to integrating COTS products

One of the biggest software building failure stories is the Bank of America’s MasterNet case study. According to “The Incremental Commitment Spiral Model: Principles and Practices for Successful Systems and Software” by Barry Boehm, Jo Ann Lane, Supannika Koolmanojwong, and Richard Turner:

“In the 1950s and 1960s, Bank of America (BofA) was the leading pioneer in banking automation with its electronic check processing capability. Subsequent BofA leaders had other interests, allowing BofA’s banking automation capabilities to degrade over time. In 1981, BofA’s new president, Sam Armacost, had an agenda to regain its automation leadership by “leapfrogging into the 1990s.” After an in-house effort that spent $6 million and failed to develop a workable trust management system, Armacost appointed a new executive vice president of the trust management department, Clyde Claus, with the charge of either modernizing the department or discontinuing it.

“…[However,] system problems continued…[and] clients began dropping off, with BofA’s base dwindling from 800 to 700 accounts and from $38 billion to $34 billion in institutional assets.… Eventually, in May 1988, BofA transferred its whole trust business to other banks, after an overall expenditure of $80 million and more than four years of project effort. The previous president, Tom Clausen, replaced Armacost in late 1986, and Claus resigned in October 1987.”

Advantages abound in buying COTS products and then customizing them. Some of the pros of buying software are:

  • Lower up-front costs
  • Clear and definite processes available for customization
  • Ready-made solutions available immediately
  • Less time has to be spent on customization and getting a product into the market
  • Readily available customer support

Although buying software may cost more than building a solution at the outset, it does provide better ROI over the long term.

Astera Software provides powerful, commercial, off-the shelf data extraction, integration and processing software including ETL tools which can be easily integrated and adapted by enterprises and companies to reduce time and effort required to perform data extracting and processing tasks and in turn improve revenue.

Some of Astera’s available software include:

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  • Centerprise Data Integrator delivers a powerful, scalable, high-performance, and affordable integration platform that is easy to use and cost friendly. It is robust enough to overcome even the biggest and most complex data integration challenges. A complete data integration solution, Centerprise includes data integration, data transformation, data quality, and data profiling in a flexible environment that enables users to choose from multiple integration scenarios. It comes with job scheduling and orchestration for automatic scheduling, file drop events, and API calls.

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  • ReportMiner enables you to extract business data from PDF, TXT, XLXS, XLS, etc. formats. Data can be integrated into the main database system and used in electronic applications for business operations and business intelligence. ReportMiner provides an easy to use interface and helps the user to identify desired data, build the data extraction logic, and save the extracted data in a number of destinations. The best part about this product is that it can be used efficiently by business users with no technical background, but is robust enough for IT professionals.

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  • EDIConnect is a complete solution for handing EDI documents such as EDI 834 and 837. EDIConnect offers a user friendly and intuitive user interface to accurately and efficiently handle bi-directional EDI data integration. It is scalable and powerful enough to fulfill entire EDI transaction processes.

Astera Software also provides training and support. Customers can learn more about the products, view the demo, and reduce the learning curve. In conclusion, Astera Software provides easy to use, robust and manageable off-the shelf products to support companies and provide them with powerful data mapping, transformation and processing tools that are not only budget-friendly but also have a sizable advantage over building in-house business solutions.

Review our Products, Get a Gift!

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It’s the holiday season, and we’re giving our wonderful customers the chance to win something spectacular! We’ll give you a hint as to what it is: it’s new and shiny and rhymes with, “Snapple Swatch.”

If you use ReportMiner or Centerprise and give us a verified review on G2Crowd, we’ll give you a present back: a $25 Amazon gift card! In addition, you’ll be entered into a raffle to win an Apple Watch Series 2.

The links to review are down below:

Centerprise

ReportMiner

We look forward to hearing from you – remember to get your gift card, and post your review by December 22nd to have your shot at a new Apple Watch. Happy Holidays!

Top EDIConnect Features: EDI Custom Repository

Many businesses use Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) to send and receive messages. Last week we covered our Centerprise connector, EDIConnect’s, Trade Partner Management features. Our focus this week is our number three feature for EDIConnect: the EDI Custom Repository.

EDI Custom Repository

With EDIConnect, users can customize transaction sets, segments, composite elements, and elements, and store them in a custom repository.

Create a new Custom Repository

To create a new Custom Repository, Select File > New > Edi Custom Repository.

This will create an empty custom repo that contains all the standard definitions for transaction sets, segments, elements and composite elements.

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Customize a Transaction Set

In the screenshot below, all the standard EDI Transaction sets are listed on the right and each transaction set’s details can be seen and modified once clicked.

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Custom segments can also be added or deleted.

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Customize Segments/Composite Elements/Elements

As with the transaction sets, every segment, composite element, and element can also be customized: EDIConnect is robust and powerful enough to handle various EDI transaction documents with ease. The screenshots below demonstrate the numerous possibilities to customize EDI documents.

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All artifacts that come with standard EDI messages can be modified using EDIConnect and can be stored in an EDI Custom Repository.

Want to know more about EDIConnect? We’re covering our top four EDIConnect features over the next several weeks. Be sure to check back for the third installment!

Astera Introduces ReportMiner 7

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Astera is excited to announce that ReportMiner 7 is now available.  New innovative features make it one of the most powerful software solutions for document content extraction and integration on the market.

Astera’s ReportMiner enables users to extract data from non-tabular data documents. Users define pattern-based extraction models to extract desired data, transform, and send it to a variety of destination formats, such as spreadsheets, relational databases, and XML files. ReportMiner comes with advanced integration features such as workflow orchestration and scheduling with batch and real-time modes, making it a complete solution for end-to-end unstructured data integration.

This latest release builds on our software’s signature ease of use and intuitiveness with features intended to capture a multitude of new source types and structures.

Key new features in ReportMiner 7 include:

  • OCR for PDFs: This feature is introduced to handle documents containing images. With built-in OCR feature, ReportMiner can read data from scanned PDFs directly within the software.
  • Microsoft Word and RTF support: ReportMiner can now extract data from Microsoft Word and RTF documents.
  • Multi-column layouts: Multi-column (newspaper-style) layouts are now supported for extraction. Visually mark the columns and ReportMiner will automatically apply the extraction logic to each of the columns.
  • Action functions: These context-based functions give control of the raw text while creating formula fields.
  • Forward and backward append: “Append” data regions can work in both directions. User can append data to all preceding records or all succeeding records.
  • Flat Preview: Where applicable, ReportMiner now offers a flattening of the preview grid so users can envision how their data will look when exported to a flat structure such as an Excel spreadsheet.
  • User interface enhancements: With a sleek new interface, brand new visual themes, and many user interface enhancements, ReportMiner 7 offers an entirely custom experience in data extraction.

Availability

ReportMiner 7 is available immediately. For those interested in giving ReportMiner 7 a test drive, a free trial can be requested here. If you’re a current customer and want to upgrade, contact your account manager for more details on how.

Easily Convert Monarch Models to ReportMiner

Attention previous Monarch users! If you have Monarch models you’d like to use in ReportMiner, no need to recreate them! You can load and convert your old Monarch files simply by opening up your Monarch xmods in ReportMiner and they will automatically be converted to a usable rmd. Some users have hundreds of Monarch models, so ReportMiner’s built-in translator for Monarch makes the conversion process easy and saves a lot of time.

Here are step-by-step directions:

Open ReportMiner and click the open file icon 

A window will pop up, enabling you to select your Monarch xmod file.

Once you select your xmod file and click to open, the report options window will pop up and you will point to the file from which you are extracting your data. Monarch xmod files do not store the file location and require you point to the file, but ReportMiner rmd files do store the file location.

 

 

Once you point to your file, ReportMiner will convert the extension from xmod to rmd.

Save your new rmd and that is it!

With the built in converter, the Monarch logic is converted to ReportMiner’s logic. ReportMiner is able to import all models and bring in all logic, fields, and formulas. ReportMiner smart automation features know the patterns and fields and take care of everything behind the scenes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Astera Introduces ReportMiner 6.4 – Smart Data Extraction from Unstructured Data

Astera is excited to announce that ReportMiner 6.4 is now available.  New innovative features make it one of the smartest data extraction software tools for unstructured data on the market.

Astera ReportMiner is a complete data extraction tool that enables users to extract data from human readable report files, such as text, PDF, PRN, and Excel files. Users define pattern-based extraction models to extract desired data, parse it, and send it to a variety of destination formats, such as spreadsheets, relational databases, and XML files. ReportMiner comes with built-in data transformation features, such as lookup, sort, join, merge, route, filter, aggregate, and rule-based calculations.

This latest release builds on our software’s signature ease of use and intuitiveness with smart features such as automated name and address parsing and auto creation of data regions and fields. These new features eliminate many time-consuming and error-prone manual data extraction tasks, saving time and increasing data quality.

Key new features in ReportMiner 6.4 include:

  • Auto detection of data patterns – this feature automatically figures out patterns for building extraction models. Users select sample lines from the data file, and, based on that sample data, ReportMiner detects a pattern that can be used to extract these lines and any similar lines. Users can also specify a negative match to refine the pattern.
  • Automated name and address parsing – this feature provides special handling of names and addresses with built-in parsers. A single click adds name and address fields and enables users to extract the components of the field.
  • Looping and filtering – previous versions of ReportMiner required users to open the advanced mode (dataflow) when exporting in order to design an export that loops through all the files in a folder. In ReportMiner 6.4, users can quickly configure this part in the regular export setting itself. The new version also allows users to specify rule-based filters for export in the model itself.
  • PDF forms – this new feature is designed for the scenario where only form data needs to be extracted from PDF form documents. ReportMiner can be used to loop through form documents and send the data to a tabular format.

Pricing and Availability

ReportMiner 6.4 is available immediately. For current ReportMiner users who want to upgrade, you can download 6.4 here. For those interested in giving ReportMiner 6.4 a test drive, a free trial can be downloaded from www.astera.com/report-miner/download. A single-user, one-year license of ReportMiner Pro is priced at $500 and bundle discounts are available. The software can be purchased here.

Q&A: Project Management Best Practices in Centerprise

Q: Does source control work with Microsoft Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2013 (TFS2013)?

A: Yes, we have added connectivity to TFS2013 and it is available in Centerprise 6.0.

Q: Do I have to use TFS for source control?

A: No, you do not have to use TFS for source control. Centerprise comes with built-in connectivity to TFS, but you can use any source control you wish, however, you’ll have to do it outside Centerprise. The benefit of using TFS is that you have all the commands and integration of the products from inside Centerprise, versus having to work outside Centerprise if you use a different source control tool.

Q: Can I have stuff shared across projects?

A: We recommend that you create independent projects where there is no dependency among different projects. In some cases, however, you will want to share some of your stuff across projects and will therefore have some dependencies. For example, say you have created a subflow and you want to use it across multiple projects. The way we recommend that you design the solution in that scenario is to create shared folders, enabling you to share the same folder across multiple projects. Create a structure where all your shared folders are in the same location, create multiple projects, and inside those projects you can add shared folders for all those projects. In that way those folders will be shared by all the projects where you will want to use them.

 Q: If I move from development to production do I have to change this in each flow or is there a global setting somewhere?

A: There are two ways to do this. If you are moving the project from one place to another place, you can open the project in the new location and click  the button that says Replace Parameter Infos.

This shows you a list of distinct connections from the project. You can change it in once place and effectively make the changes in all the places where it is being used inside the project.

However, we recommend that you set up your overall structure to have shared database connections. In that way, you will need to make changes to the shared database connections only when you move from one environment to other.

Q: Can you show how you use folders across projects.

A: If I want to share a folder between the Customer Updates and Order Processing projects, I’ll add a shared folder at the folder level where the project files are stored.

The project files have to be at this level, so I need to move both my project files one level up. Now the scope of both projects includes the shared folder.

Now the shared folder can be added to any of the projects whose scope includes the shared folder.