Couple of days back one of my friend asked me about data integration methods in domino. He was quite confused to select suitable tool on real time situation.Domino provides various methods and connectors for data integration.In practical there are slight confusion between Lotus Script methods which access back-end data and Lotus connectors. Here are brief about connectors and methods which may give clear picture to beginners.

What is Connectors ?

Connectors are the Lotus standardized data-integration interface for connecting to back-end enterprise data via predefined connection formats. Connectors provide links from Notes and Domino applications to DB2, Oracle, SAP, JD Edwards, PeopleSoft, OLE (for MS SQL Server 7), MQSeries, and ODBC data sources. Connectors are used by Domino Enterprise Connectivity Services (DECS), Lotus Enterprise Integrator (LEI), Lotus Connector LotusScript Extensions (LC LSX), and Lotus Connectors (LC) for Java.

IBM has also developed connector APIs that are customized for IBM hardware and software platforms. MQSeries and CICS have connectors that work with specific tools. MQ Enterprise Integrator (MQEI) supports batch-style replication with MQSeries and CICS. MQSeries can also be accessed from LotusScript if you use the MQSeries LotusScript Extensions (MQ LSX). DB2 has its own LotusScript Extensions that work well with the DB2 connector, and IBM has published a native DB2 JDBC driver as well.

How Connectors work ?

Connectors make multiple data formats look the same to a Domino application. Notes and Domino applications can call seven classes when using a Lotus connector to access back-end data. Here are brief of those connector methods

LCSession :: Every connection contains a session object. LCSession provides information about available connectors and associated properties and methods. LCSession also handles any errors that occur during a connection.
LCConnection :: LCConnection connects and sends queries to the back-end data.
LCFieldlist :: LCFieldlist creates a block of field names through an LCConnection to create a result set or to write to a back-end data source.
LCField :: LCField stores the data type of a field for all values in an LCFieldList.
LCStream :: LCStream is a unicode text and binary data type, including the character set of the data.
LCNumeric :: The LCNumeric class contains numbers and is compatible with Domino number field formats.
LCCurrency :: The LCCurrency class supports a 19-digit, four-decimal numeric data format, and is the same as the Domino currency data format.
LCDatetime :: The LCDatetime class contains date time formats and is compatible with Domino date and time field formats.

Lotus Enterprise Integrator
Lotus Enterprise Integrator (LEI) is a tool sold separately by IBM that replicates between Domino and back-end sources in batch. Originally called NotesPump, it contained the real-time capabilities now present in Domino Enterprise Connectivity Services (DECS). When Domino 5 was released, DECS functionality was replicated and is now included as part of the Domino server. DECS also provided the base functionality for Domino 6 Data Connection Resources (DCRs).

LEI still contains real-time tools for data integration, but is mostly purchased and used for batch-style data transfer and replication. Aside from the tools to make data integration possible, LEI also includes a data-integration UI for managing replication. LEI is also useful for replicating data between two Domino databases that are not replicas.

LEI supports LotusScript integration via LEI LotusScript Extensions (LEI LSX), and supports Java functionality via Lotus Connectors for Java.

LotusScript Data Objects

LotusScript Data Objects (LS:DO) uses Open Database Connectivity (ODBC) to connect directly to back-end data from a client or a server. Queries and results pass between the client and the data source via ODBC.

LS:DO features

A set of LotusScript Extension (LSX) files enable functionality for LS:DO. The LSX files are loaded as DLLs in the Notes client and/or Domino server program directory. LS:DO uses Open Database Connectivity (ODBC) to connect back-end data sources to LS:DO classes in a Notes or Domino application. LS:DO contains three LotusScript classes, which differ slightly from their Lotus connector class counterparts.

Lotus Connector LotusScript Extensions

Lotus Connector LotusScript Extensions (LC LSX) use Lotus connectors to connect to back-end data from a Notes client or a Domino server. Queries and results pass to and from the client to the data source via the Lotus Connector's LCConnection class.

Lotus Connectors for Java (LC for Java)

Lotus Connectors for Java (LC for Java) use Lotus Connectors to connect from Java applets, applications, and servlets to back-end data from a Notes client or a Domino server. Queries and results pass to and from the client to the data source via the Lotus Connector's LCConnection class

DECS (Domino Enterprise Connection Services)

DECS stands for Domino Enterprise Connection Services.The purpose of DECS is to provide a Notes application with the capability to access, create, update, and delete data from an external database. The major restriction of DECS is that it's incapable of providing a Notes application with ongoing synchronization of data that has been added to or deleted from the back-end database through processes other than the Notes application.

The engine for DECS is a separate server task. This process runs on a Domino server, intercepting requests for the external data and fulfilling those requests.DECS is not only a server process; it also contains a Domino database for setting up and administering the connections and retrieval of data. This database is known as the DECS Administrator database, and it's created when you install DECS.

DCR (Data Connection Resources)

Data Connection Resources (DCRs) are new in Domino 6. They permit DECS to be extended directly into Domino forms. There are four major areas that must be set up to implement DCRs

>Database properties
>Data connections (under Shared Resources)
>Form properties
>Field properties

I had briefly mentioned all the methods and connectors which can be use in Domino to access back-end data.In the next blog I will write steps to implement,advantages and disadvantages for each methods.

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