The Truth About Things: Connectors – A ThingWorx Building Block
In a recent post, I gave an overview of the types of Building Blocks that are available with the ThingWorx Platform. As a reminder, Building Blocks are a collection of entities packaged together for modular software development. They are intended to be reusable, repeatable, and scalable, and they are the fastest way to either build your own solution or customize a pre-made PTC solution, like ThingWorxDigital Performance Management. There are four types of Building Blocks we will talk about for the development of IIoT applications and solutions on the ThingWorx platform: Connectors, Domain Models, Business Logic, and UI. In this post, we are going to do a deep dive on Connectors, which improve application performance and the transfer of data from disparate devices and systems.
What does a Connector look like in ThingWorx?
All ThingWorx Building Blocks follow the same naming convention of CompanyName.BuildingBlockName, so any PTC-created Connectors will appear as PTC.Connector. Connectors in ThingWorx are external integrations that can come in through an industrial system, like an MES that could be connected to with ThingWorx Kepware, or business system, like a CRM that could be connected to via ThingWorx Flow or REST APIs. It could also be a connection to an external database. These are your data connections, so their structure will be somewhat dependent upon your database and assets.
What does a Connector look like in use in a PTC Solution?
If we use the example of Digital Performance Management (DPM), one of the connectors we use is a Database Manager(ptc.DBConnection.Manager). It pulls information from the database that is being used from the implementation of DPM. If you think of Building Blocks like bricks, Connectors are the foundation. In this case, the Database Manager sits at the bottom layer of bricks to connect the asset data to the next layer of bricks (Domain Models, which I will cover in the next post) and allows you to pull any information you need.
How can you use a Connector in your solutions?
As mentioned above, a Connector is the foundation building block for most solutions. It is what aggregates and transfers your solution-related data into the ThingWorx platform for use. The Connectors we currently have available on the ThingWorx platform will “talk” to your database and the other building blocks you use in your solutions, so for your own solutions, a Connector will be the entry point of your data into your solution.
How can you adapt a Connector for your own solutions?
The ThingWorx PM team is here to listen to your thoughts and feedback, so tell us: What questions do you have about Connectors and how they can improve your experience building solutions in the ThingWorx platform? Or, if you are waiting for the full deep dive into Building Blocks, keep an eye out for our next post on Domain Models, where we will cover the next “layer up” of the types of Building Blocks for use in ThingWorx.