Mark Zuckenberg once said: “How can you connect the world if you leave out China”. Well, I now hereby say: “How can you connect the cloud if you leave out Google”. I know I don’t have his net worth, but I have a point nevertheless. Reality is that Google has done a great job building a Gazillion of different and very cool APIs and you’d be right to feel that it’s hard to keep their pace. To help you with that is that we proudly present to you the first release of the Google Cloud Connectors Suite.
So, this is the first of a three-parter series of blog posts in which we’ll cover basics and details about using the Google connectors and how they play with other connectors and each other. We’ll show this by building an app that:
- Takes a list of clients from a Google Spreadsheets
- Creates those clients in SalesForce
- Then create the same clients in Google Contacts
- Creates appointments on Google Calendars to meet with the new clients
- Creates task on Google Tasks to follow up with those new clients
- And finally, marks those clients as Synced in the original Spreadsheet
Quite big isn’t? Don’t worry, for ease of read and understanding we’ll split this post in 3 parts:
- Part 1: which introduces the series and shows how to install the connector and a high level view of all the flows
- Part 2: We’ll discuss common use cases and quick code examples
- Part 3: This requires a whole bunch of data transformation. We’ll show you how to close the integration circle with extreme use cases of Mule’s Data Mapper
Say hello to my little Friend, the Data Mapper
Let’s begin by taking an overall look of the sub flow that takes care of integrating with Salesforce.
So, from the previous Get Cells operation, the message’s current payload is a List of objects representing the Rows in the spreadsheet. This object contains both the number of the row and a List of Cell objects which contains the actual value. However, what the Salesforce Cloud Connector needs is a List of Maps. DataMapper allows to easily perform this transformation with the following mapping:
So on the left hand side of the image above you can see the actual object graph that the Spreadsheets connector produced and we described. On the right hand side, you can see the List<Map> instance that the Salesforce connector needs. If you look closely, you’ll also see that this mapping is using several jxpath rules. We’ll go into detail of how this work on part 3 of this series, but for now, the important thing is to get a hold on how the List<Row> structure looks like and the fact that DataMapper is super useful for transforming it into a List in which each entry represent a row, and where each Map represents a Cell (the map will use the cell number as key and the cell content as value)
After converting the message payload from List<Row> to List<Map>, a second transformation is used to remove the entries that correspond to rows already synced. Just as before, this transformation will be discussed in detail on part 3.
Finally, the integration to Salesforce is done by performing a bulk upsert operation.
From Google to Google
Let’s continue by taking an overall look to the sub-flow that integrates the spreadsheet to Google’s Calendar, Tasks and Contacts.
What you have to remember in order to understand this sub- flow is that it’s being invoked in the context of an <all> router in the main flow. So, although we just saw how to transform the message payload from List<Row> to List<Map>, the message that this sub-flow is receiving is the original List<Row> instance. We’ll then start the flow by using the <foreach> processor introduced in Mule 3.3.0 to iterate through each of the rows.
After doing that, we use a <choice> router. Why? Because the first item of the List belongs to the column’s headers in the spreadsheet and we do not want to do anything with those. So, now we’ll use the power of the Mule Expression Language (MEL) also introduced in Mule 3.3.0 to decide if the current row is useful or not. The expression looks like this:
In summary, if the above expression is true then we integrate that row, otherwise we just log a message. To make this example easier to read and understand, we’re now going to discard most of the information in the row and we’ll just keep the name of the contact. The JXPath expression evaluator is helpful for extracting the name out of the row. Let’s see how:
So what this expression does is going into the row’s cells and get the one that corresponds to the second column which is the one holding the name. Once that cell is located, it selects its value.
Finally, we again use the <all> router to invoke another three sub-flows which will take care of integrating to the other google apps. These sub-flows are very simple ones. We use the Calendar’s Quick Add processor to create an appointment:
We have another one that uses the Insert Contact processor in the Google Contacts Connector. This time we’ll use a simple Java transformer to map the client’s name to a Contact object:
And we use the same strategy to insert the Task:
Raise the Flag
Last step is to change the Synced flag on the original spreadsheet so that the same clients are not re synced each time around. The corresponding sub-flow looks like this:
We first use DataMapper to change the flag value (details on this will be explained in part 3) to finally yield to the Spreadsheet Connector’s “Set Row Values” processor. This processor is one of my favorites! It takes a List<Row> and updates the values of each cell while leaving all other cells untouched, making it extremely easy to fetch cells, modify them and then updating their status. And to make it extra cool, all of this happens in a batch operation so that you can modify large amounts of cells in only one remote request.
To Be Continued…
So in this post we introduced the Google Connector, proposed a sample application and gave and overview of it. Please follow us as we prepare the second and third part of this series where we’ll show code snippets that can get you through the most common use cases. If you want to get a sneak peak into the example’s code you can visit our github page and look at the google-connectors-example application.