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MIS Systems Thread, SIF enabled applications in Technical; Originally Posted by glennda Just a quick question - Groupcall Xporter is essentially Command Reporter with a management console? Running ...
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    Quote Originally Posted by glennda View Post
    Just a quick question - Groupcall Xporter is essentially Command Reporter with a management console? Running a Sims report as the user specified?
    I thought not, I understood it actually took the data out of SQL without any need for a report, but this thread has made me doubt that altogether.

    I also thought Xporter was a SIF product regardless, I didn't realise there was an "Xporter SIF" version too.

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    Quote Originally Posted by superfletch View Post
    I thought not, I understood it actually took the data out of SQL without any need for a report, but this thread has made me doubt that altogether.

    I also thought Xporter was a SIF product regardless, I didn't realise there was an "Xporter SIF" version too.
    No it may be different with the Sif add on but Exporter uses reports in Sims

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    Quote Originally Posted by glennda View Post
    Just a quick question - Groupcall Xporter is essentially Command Reporter with a management console? Running a Sims report as the user specified?
    Apologies if i've confused things. i have Emerge and i think it's the Xporter that is running to do the data sync. This is reliant on a load of reports in SIMS. They are tagged in a category so you can find them. I've looked at them and spotted improvements that could be made, which has now led to changes to the app itself and how it shows data.

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    Quote Originally Posted by vikpaw View Post
    Groupcall basically just runs pre-defined reports in SIMS, i think it's the exporter that we're running for Emerge. My issue is that the reports are limited and don't always work very well.

    Softlink recently asked me to install Exporter again so they could sync SIMS with Oliver, but again it was basically going to use just use reports, and they wanted a SIMS user with extremely high privileges.

    I thought SIF would be like an interface, so if Capita was SIF enabled / compliant, it would generate whatever data we wanted in a common format, and then Oliver would be able to receive that. Right?

    At the moment Softlink, just wants a CSV with the data which can be imported on a schedule. I've just done that manually, and saved myself a load of cash and install fees. I need to do a more complex Excel report that manipulates some fields then makes the CSV, but that's not too bad.

    Anyhow, i'd be interested to know how SIF can help me here and what the difference is.

    In theory to answer the original question, anything that stores data / needs to interface would benefit from being SIF enabled. We currently need to sych, AD/MIS/Library/ID card system/Sharepoint/Moodle/VLE . Usually it's the MIS which is the main source.
    A SIF agent currently exists for Softlink Oliver 5. It can currently create/update records in Oliver and will match exiting users if they have use the any unique it that you have is in the MIS ie UPN or admission number.

    SIF agent also exist for AD and Moodle. And external siytem with a decent api is straight forward to sif enable.

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    I think I have talked about SIF more in the last 3 days than the rest of my professional life put together!

    My comment on SIF in the other thread is just as valid here too... well most of it

    [Development] An Open Source Parent Gateway

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    Quote Originally Posted by vikpaw View Post
    Apologies if i've confused things. i have Emerge and i think it's the Xporter that is running to do the data sync. This is reliant on a load of reports in SIMS. They are tagged in a category so you can find them. I've looked at them and spotted improvements that could be made, which has now led to changes to the app itself and how it shows data.
    It is the xporter which does the data sync (I've got emerge too) - but it still uses normal reports based inside Sims.net the write back is different.

    The Reports are just in Sims and start with GCX_Emerge or GCX_Biostore depending on the application the extraction is for.

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    So do i need SIF, i'm thinking i do. Do i have to pay for it? Or should the suppliers offer it?

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    Quote Originally Posted by vikpaw View Post
    So do i need SIF, i'm thinking i do. Do i have to pay for it? Or should the suppliers offer it?
    Schools should be asking there supplier to support SIF. There is a cost involved whether connecting to a MIS directly or by SIF. SIF is cheaper to suppliers by reducing the number of APIs they need to support and better for schools by allowing better choice and avoiding vendor lock in.
    SIF support should be bundled with the application not offered as an add on.

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    Quote Originally Posted by penfold_99 View Post
    SIF support should be bundled with the application not offered as an add on.
    Given that one of the goals of SIF is to allow interoperability of data between systems, it could be monopolistic for a company offer SIF as a (paid for add-on) thereby ensuring vendor lock-in. Is this the current state of affairs? I figured api's would be free in 2012?

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    @CyberNerd - that's what i was thinking - imagine it's slow uptake, because saying you support it is good, actually supporting it - not good for business. I wouldn't mind if they just added it into the cost of what you buy, so long as they all did it.

    Really, it should be enforced, certainly for education / government funded areas (what does that mean these days ??). I wonder if it's part of the recent framework released Something to keep an eye on from DfE

    Surely a massive factor in changing a MIS/VLE will be the transfer of data and associated cost. It would be silly if the best value is obliterated by cost to move. I think mostly the receiving company bears the onus of moving data, but how much do they say they can move. The criteria for companies being on that list should have been contingent on SIF compliance and availability. @penfold_99 do you know if SIF was in the loop?

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    Quote Originally Posted by CyberNerd View Post
    Given that one of the goals of SIF is to allow interoperability of data between systems, it could be monopolistic for a company offer SIF as a (paid for add-on) thereby ensuring vendor lock-in. Is this the current state of affairs? I figured api's would be free in 2012?
    The DfE framework allows schools to have free access to data but didn't cover updating information. This is still where the monopoly lies in the cost a supplier charges to write data back.

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    Quote Originally Posted by vikpaw View Post
    @CyberNerd - that's what i was thinking - imagine it's slow uptake, because saying you support it is good, actually supporting it - not good for business.
    The only supplier that this would be affect is capita as its the only one to charge for writing data back. As SIF would allow multiple suppliers to write back but capita could only charge a fee once.

    Quote Originally Posted by vikpaw View Post
    Really, it should be enforced, certainly for education / government funded areas (what does that mean these days ??). I wonder if it's part of the recent framework released Something to keep an eye on from DfE

    Surely a massive factor in changing a MIS/VLE will be the transfer of data and associated cost. It would be silly if the best value is obliterated by cost to move. I think mostly the receiving company bears the onus of moving data, but how much do they say they can move. The criteria for companies being on that list should have been contingent on SIF compliance and availability.
    AS part of the framework suppliers had to agree to supporting the ISB standards even though they have not been released. SIF is working with the ISB about the practical application of these standards. In an upcoming release of SIF specification it will allow for multiple data models to be transferred between systems. SIF could adopted the ISB data model and use its transport layer to move it between systems.

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    SIF sounds good according to the specification and I was particularly interested when I looked at the Abstract:

    An alternative SOAP-based transport and corresponding set of WSDL files which allow web services to
    fully participate in these interactions;


    But was disappointed when I got to page 283 which stated:

    To do so and to meet the final requirement of a Web Service per [WSARCH], the use of SOAP messages, would require redefinition of much of SIF using SOAP messages. The SIF Association's Web Services Task Force has determined that this exercise has little value currently, given SIF's precisely defined transport layer and installed base. The task force has left it as a future task how to best leverage Web Services in the future of SIF's infrastructure, if at all.

    To not support SOAP and WSDL is probably going to limit the takeup of SIF as there are no tools to create interfaces for the programming language being used. Each vendor would have to start from scratch from the specification. Is there any possibility of web services via SOAP? It is a standard, whereas SIF, although well thought out, does not help its uptake by being just another xml based protocol to get ones head around in terms of programming from the bottom up. Currently I've gone my own way using SOAP to interface between SIMS and Moodle. To use SIF via SOAP and WSDL would be ideal but until that's available I'll stick to what I've got. Next part to do, SIMS to AD via SOAP using C#! I already run CommandReporter.exe via web services and SOAP so it's just the AD client part to do, the WSDL is already generated.

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    @bantonia - man, you're keen to have read 283 pages!

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    Skipped a few pages in between as I wanted to get to the SOAP and WSDL like the specification was teasing!

    Overall I agree with the ideals it sounds good but as a programmer I don't particularly want to start from scratch having to interpret accurately most of the 283 pages before I got to the disappointing statement. Currently there are, as far as I know, no open source libraries, certified or otherwise in any programming language to create SIF messages. I tried to install OpenZIS yesterday as a test site and eventually came to a brick wall. There were also comments on GitHub that OpenZIS is no longer developed, how accurate that is I personally do not know, I may be passing on mis-information. I would be very happy to be stand corrected. So with ZIT server not working so nothing to test against, I am reluctant to spend the time and effort to move away from something I already have working via SOAP albeit not to the same ideals as SIF. As for other vendors, everyone seems to be keeping their own developments regarding SIF very close to their chests as it is a commercially viable product. Open specification is one thing but open source is quite another factor which needs to be addressed to enable the proliferation in use of the specification.



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