APIs aren’t always simple. And developers don’t always have the breadth of knowledge to execute all the different ways there are to connect to back ends. Integrating data from different sources, and building it into your application, can be difficult. But there is one thing that people almost universally understand: database tables. So Gent Hito, CEO at /n software, has driven his company’s service bus, called RSSBus, toward understanding the message’s content, not merely the end points of the delivery.
“If you make things look like tables in a database, people know how to deal with it,” he told me during a sit-down at Microsoft’s TechEd conference here in New Orleans.
RSSBus, Hito said, offers data providers for such diverse data sources as QuickBooks, Salesforce, SharePoint, PowerShell, OData, Google Apps, Twitter, e-mail, and many more. A Core Provider SDK enables users to create their own custom data providers and drivers for proprietary databases, applications and Web APIs, he said. “When you connect to SQL Server, you have an ADO or ODBC provider for it, if you’re in that part of the business. With Java, you have a JDBC driver. We just do the same thing for all these data sources,” he said.
“The type of developer that connects to Web services is a different type of developer that connects to databases, etc. You have two choices: You either make them understand how to work with your systems, or you drive them to Web APIs, which is what Microsoft seems to be talking about with OData these days, being their language in between systems, the way systems communicate with each other. Our take is similar to what they’re saying about OData: If you know how to work with database drivers and that’s what you do day in and day out, well, create a custom driver for your dataset in a virtual database that represents a view of the system that you care about, and let your developers use that. So, instead of writing reams of documentation, give them something that looks like a database and they know already what to do with it.”
This approach brings the bus to you, Hito explained. It’s not just about signaling and timing; it’s about what the messages mean. You can’t standardize things, he said, but you can make them all look relational. After people have mapped their systems to relational databases, it’s important to understand what the systems and their objects represent.
“From a developer’s perspective, their job might be easier if they are dealing with databases,” Hito said. “We’re trying to virtualize the world and make it look like a database.”
RSSBus Drivers and Data Providers provide connectivity for binding data to applications and services, Hito said, in a straightforward way that does not require code to be written. Drivers include ADO.NET, JDBC, BizTalk Adapters, Excel Add-Ins, MySQL Interfaces, and more. The flexible RSSBus toolkit offers a Core Provider SDK that enables users to create their own custom data providers and drivers for proprietary databases, applications and Web APIs, he said. Developers simply add the logic required to render the data from these sources as tables.
“When you connect to SQL Server, you have an ADO or ODBC provider for it, if you’re in that part of the business. With Java, you have a JDBC driver. We just do the same thing for all these data sources,” Hito said.
He added that the RSSBus APIs have been criticized for remaining flat, but he shrugged that off. “We keep the APIs flat and simple to map easily across platforms. We really just want to make it as easy as possible for developers to create business applications.”