Custom connectors: Making powerful processes even greater

Let’s say you’ve just built out a utility function that solves a process or application need and has the ability to be repurposed for multiple applications across your organization. Once you share your solution with the leadership team, the floodgates open – department heads are now requesting to integrate their existing applications and processes with the function you just created.

So, if your less technical coworkers are requesting more of your time to help integrate your solution into their process, wouldn’t it be great if you could make your function more accessible to them?

Empowering others through your custom connectors

Using custom connectors like OpenAPI and Nintex Xtensions, you can make your functions available for others to easily implement in their own processes.

Let’s look at an example.

Dan just created a QR Code generator action in his Nintex Workflow Cloud tenant, and it requires the URL to be encoded. This means that the string value in the URL must be customized for the QR Code scanner to properly scan each item.

If Dan wanted to use the QR Code generator, he could configure the web service call to encode the URL. But, if his non-technical coworker wanted to generate their own QR Code using his tool, they would need a simpler solution.

That’s where custom connectors come into play. Dan can make a user-friendly ‘URL Encode/Decode’ action in Nintex Workflow Cloud that allows the user to easily drag, drop, and configure the action in their workflow as if it’s native to Nintex Workflow Cloud.

Nintex Workflow Cloud and OpenAPI

OpenAPI is a standard, language-agnostic description of RESTful APIs that can be read by both humans and machines. You may have heard of it previously as Swagger.

Nintex Workflow Cloud utilizes the OpenAPI Specification in JSON (or you can write the definition in YAML and convert to JSON), allowing you to create custom connectors to third-party platforms or your own RESTful APIs, and integrate them seamlessly into your Nintex Workflow Cloud workflows. The input and output of the connector are based on the structure of your API.

You can also create a more user-friendly experience by using dynamic lookups to streamline the data required, and employing a simple naming strategy and custom description.

Nintex Workflow actions are easy to use, and there is no reason your custom connector shouldn’t be either. No longer would a workflow developer need to use a ‘Call Web Service’ action and try to format headers or ask what your naming structure is on the request body!

A better API

You know what your API does and how it works, but it would take a lot to explain the structure of your API and object schema to a coworker or someone who is not a developer. Wouldn’t it be great if you could just visualize this? Thankfully, OpenAPI provides additional structure in the representation of your API.

By building the API definition using OpenAPI, you’ll have a clearer picture of your API and be able to share the API definition with others. Also, once you are able to create custom connectors with your APIs, you’ll be able to leverage the same technology to build more.

There are a great number of tools to help you build your API definition. From Swagger.io from SmartBear and the documentation on Nintex Xtensions, you will be able get up and running quickly.

To get a better understanding of the OpenAPI specification and how it works, please visit SmartBear at https://swagger.io and read their documentation (Nintex uses OAS 2.0), and explore their tools to quickly build an API definition.

For information on how Nintex uses the OpenAPI specification, I recommend exploring our Nintex Xtensions documentation for information on how you can build your first connector, incorporate authentication, and add a custom connector to Nintex Workflow Cloud.

In the next blog post about Custom Connectors, I’ll go through how I built a function to encode and decode URLs like the example above, and how I made that function an action any user in my Nintex Workflow Cloud tenant could use to bring additional functionality to their workflows.

Want to see some examples of customer connectors you can use with the Nintex Platform? Visit the Nintex Process Accelerator Gallery, to see a collection of connectors for you to import into your Nintex Workflow Cloud tenant today.

 

 

Want to see some examples of customer connectors you can use with the Nintex Platform? Visit the Nintex Process Accelerator Gallery, to see a collection of connectors for you to import into your Nintex Workflow Cloud tenant today.

 

 

Sean Fiene

Nintex Technical Enablement Manager Sean Fiene is a web developer, Nintex Forms specialist, and lover of foods. With over 9 years' experience in SharePoint and Nintex technologies, he's passionate about using workflow automation, forms, and mobile solutions to drive greater productivity and success across industries and business scenarios.

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