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MIS Systems Thread, Clarification of SIMS programmatic data extraction options. in Technical; Hi, this is my first post! I realize I'm starting a new post on a subject already fairly well covered ...
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    Clarification of SIMS programmatic data extraction options.

    Hi, this is my first post!

    I realize I'm starting a new post on a subject already fairly well covered but it seems that no-one is quite sure of the options available (I'm certainly not!) and the Capita web site is not particularly clear. I feel some clarification would be well received.

    According to the Capita web site (http://www.capitaes.co.uk/SIMS/Partners/Interface.asp) there are 2 options for interfacing with SIMS. Those are:

    Option 1 - SIMS Reporting Engine:
    My understanding of data extraction via the SIMS reporting engine is that it consists of 2 executables; CommandReporter.exe - an executable which allows programmatic report execution. and CommandReportImporter.exe which allows programmatic importing of report definitions.
    According to a post in the topic entitled 'Programatic data extraction from SIMS.net Data Base' there are some examples of this executable being used to return data to a C# program. I believe this documentation is available from a Capita representative and is entitled 'Third Party Access to SIMS.net SDK' (I'm getting this from the help displayed when running these executables)
    is this all correct?

    Option 2 - Third Party SDK (aka SIMS Public Interface):
    This consists of a number of COM and .net objects (these are the Business Objects mentioned in various places) which can be used to access the SIMS database. Documentation is available for the objects and methods free of charge however the .zip files containing the documentation are encrypted - in order to obtain the password a 'standard non-disclosure agreement' must be signed.
    Using this interface allows data to be written to as well as read from the database. However if anyone wishes to use the SDK to write to the database there is a £5k licensing fee to cover support costs. It is free to use this SDK if your code only reads from SIMS.
    Is all of this correct?

    I quote the following from a topic entitled 'Extracting data from an MIS' (posted by Phil Neale):
    "SIMS includes IMS Enterprise as standard; a free key is available from your support unit. This web service can incrementally update a VLE with student, staff and class data.
    A third party can buy a licensed copy of SIMS for £5000. Capita does not charge third parties licence fees for reading data from SIMS.

    There are licence fees for creating routines that write back to SIMS and for that we guarantee that we will make every attempt to fix a schools data should something go wrong. We employ a team to support this activity."
    - This sounds similar to my understanding of the 3rd Party SDK but with a few more acronyms (IMS, VLE) thrown in for good effect, where does all this fit in?

    If anyone can help clarify the situation I would be extremely grateful

    Adam

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    Re: Clarification of SIMS programmatic data extraction options.

    I think you've have most of it. There are three options: 2 read-only and 1 read/write


    1) Report engine: Using commandReporter excutable for data extraction to files (XML,CSV,TXT,RTF,DOC,XLS)

    2) IMS: Populating/updating VLE users/groups using web service protocol

    3) Third party SDK (Business Object): Read/writes access to SIMS database via paid-for tools and API docs.

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    Re: Clarification of SIMS programmatic data extraction optio

    Thanks for replying. I was hoping a majority if my understanding was right!

    Do you know where I can get any further information regarding the IMS/web service stuff - I can't seem to find any information even remotely related to web services on the Capita web site?

    Have you actually used any of these methods to integrate with SIMS before?

    Adam

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    Re: Clarification of SIMS programmatic data extraction options.

    Adam use SupportNet - you will need to register but it is free to SIMS users. In general the best place to go is Web Support|Solution Search. This will locate all sorts of information about SIMS issues.

    However, the document you need is Resource Number 12820.

    Hope this helps.

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    Re: Clarification of SIMS programmatic data extraction optio

    Thanks for replying Phil.

    I'm already using a SupportNet account, but have not found the search capabilities to be much use (perhaps there are access restrictions to the documentation I can see?, or I'm not using it right?).

    For example I have just searched for Resource Number 12820 in the resources centre but nothing has been returned.
    I've also tried the text search in both the resources and also the solution search with numerous strings (such as: 'SDK', 'CommandReporter' ... ) to no avail. If I search for 'IMS' in the solution search various articles do come back but none point me in the direction of any documentation (one does mention 'IMS VLE Export Tool manual' but I have no idea how to get my hands on such a document!).

    It's all rather frustrating!

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    Re: Clarification of SIMS programmatic data extraction options.

    Quote Originally Posted by Adam_C
    It's all rather frustrating!
    It's by design, they seem to deliberately make it hard for us to get the information we want.

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    Re: Clarification of SIMS programmatic data extraction options.

    Quote Originally Posted by webman
    It's by design, they seem to deliberately make it hard for us to get the information we want.
    That's not quite. Get information out of SIMS.net is quite easy. It's the getting information into SIMS that's a problem.

    Unless you can contrive a CTF/ATF or get your head and wallet around business objects then there is no real way of importing data in bulk.

    They seem to make it easier to extract your data and take it to a competitor MIS rather than vice versa

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    Re: Clarification of SIMS programmatic data extraction optio

    I disagree - CommandReporter is not the best but that is what we have to put up with. There are no public SOAP/XMLRPC or APIs or bindings for other languages at our disposal, free of charge, that I am aware of or have been able to get hold of. These could easily be implemented by Capita, and would be more efficient and easier than scheduled exports to CSV/XML files and parsing them.

    The issue is more of a political one rather than a technical one.

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    Re: Clarification of SIMS programmatic data extraction optio

    There are no public SOAP/XMLRPC or APIs or bindings for other languages at our disposal, free of charge, that I am aware of or have been able to get hold of
    If my first post is correct, then option 2 (i.e. the Public Interface) is freely available to all school users (Third party developers have to pay £5k to first get a copy of SIMS) providing you are only reading data (if you are writing data to SIMS that is an additional £5k for support) - the public interface has a COM API aswell as a number of .net objects which can be used to interact with the database.

    Phil (Neal), as our resident Capita representative is all this correct?

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    Re: Clarification of SIMS programmatic data extraction options.

    We were told "no" by our LEA MIS team when we asked for the 3rd party SDK.

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    Re: Clarification of SIMS programmatic data extraction options.

    Quote Originally Posted by webman
    We were told "no" by our LEA MIS team when we asked for the 3rd party SDK.
    It depends what is meant by 3rd party SDK. As a techy you probably have mean the full, all sing and dancing read/write API. Well this costs. No one has ever pretended that SIMS was a GPL product.

    Information on using commandReporter exceutable and the IMS webservice mechanism is availible free of charge. Just contact David Grashoff at Capita.

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    Re: Clarification of SIMS programmatic data extraction options.

    Software does not need to be GPL for the developers to give schools a proper API, to their own data, via standard and documented methods without charging them. I really don't think it is that much to ask.

    When you ask Capita for anything it's usually "Ask your MIS support team".

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    Re: Clarification of SIMS programmatic data extraction options.

    Resource 12820 is available to all. I found it by going to Web Support|Solution Search. Pick SIMS.NET any product and type "IMS". This comes up with about 20 references to IMS links with resource numbers. Type the reource number into the site search on the home page and it will get you the document.

    WebMan, if you have a support contract with your LA they are responsible for the operation of your SIMS system. We will not interfere with that relationship and create problems - you can have a contract with us instead BUT we recommend local support.

    The level of validation in SIMS is high and if you stick in data to the DB that is invalid there will be failures.

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    Re: Clarification of SIMS programmatic data extraction optio

    If I type 12820 into the 'Site Search' box on the home page I am met with the message: 'no matches found'.

    It shouldn't matter but the account I am using to access WebSupport is a partner account...

    If i go into Web Support|Solution Search The only options in the 'Software Suite' drop down are 'SIMS' and 'SIMS Third Party'. If I select 'SIMS' with 'any' for product and enter "IMS" into the 'all of these words' box I get 2 results - none of them link me to resource 12820.

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    Re: Clarification of SIMS programmatic data extraction options.

    Adam - I will ask the support team to look at this tomorrow.

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