The most important data source of a company is its ERP system. Or it is the CRM system. Or maybe is it the Intranet? Or those tons of files stored locally or on a departmental fileserver’s share?
Regardless which is correct ARIS MashZone will read them all and gives you a layer of abstraction which enables you to concentrate on your core competences: Combining, presenting and investigating all those precious data. But how does MashZone actually deal with all these files? As Markus explained during userDay09 MashZone does not copy data but reads it on demand. Whenever dashboards are viewed or data is analyzed the data sources are re-read and the feeds involved are reevaluated.
So where does the data come from? In fact there are two important ways MashZone accesses data: Either via http or by file system. The file system I will elaborate on today. First it is important to understand that MashZone consists of a server and client component. The MashZone server is responsible for reading data sources and evaluating data feeds. In contrast the MashZone client – this Adobe Flash applet in your browser – just presents the results within a MashApp and handles user interaction. So it is the server which reads data sources; this distinction becomes important if it runs on a different machine than your browser-client does.
When you add a data source operator like the one for Excel within the feed editor you select where the data comes from. The select source dialog offers three choices: URL, directory on MashZone server or upload. The most important difference between option two and three is how updates are handled. The default option enables MashZone to receive updates. In most cases you want exactly this. On the other hand this way MashZone might also receive structural updates – somebody deleted columns or the entire file. If you do not care about updates since the data is statically anyway you may choose upload from client. After selecting the file on your machine (this time where the browser-client is) a copy is sent right into the MashZone server where it is stored and never changes.
Finally you might notice the different file chooser dialogs when selecting files stored on the MashZone server or when uploading. If you wonder what does this name resources means on the left hand side, please take a look at Administration – Server settings – Resource directories. Here paths are listed the MashZone server currently knows about. It is up to you to add further locations, e.g. a UNC path referring to the network storage of your department or any other path accessible to MashZone server.
So now everybody should be able to insert any data stored in files into MashZone either by reference to take advantage of updates or by copy to avoid problems after structural changes. Of course this applies to all the different formats, it is clearly not limited to Excel.