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DriveWorks provides excellent functionality for collecting information and performing the calculations, lookups and logic that our designs require. There are some situations, however, where tools outside of DriveWorks are still employed. This may be due to the fact that a legacy system already exists that is serving its purpose well, that the program is required by other processes within the company or supply chain, or that performs calculations in a black box of mystery that is not only unknown, but inaccessible.

On several occasions, Razorleaf has been called upon to bring this type of information into DriveWorks and create DriveWorks specifications, output documents like BOMs and quotes, and to generate SOLIDWORKS models and drawings. Depending upon the sources, DriveWorks provides a host of functions and tasks that Razorleaf has combined, with a few additions, into the best methods to handle outside data.

The easiest data to work with is database information. Many outside systems, including ERP, web interfaces, and common code calculators, can be set up to populate a database table with their outputs. DriveWorks Autopilot connectors can be set to watch for database table additions, but these require specially formatted tables. Internal functions (QueryData, QueryDataValues, DbExecute, DbQuery) allow DriveWorks to access this information which can populate a user interface or can be used silently to populate controls or constants using specification tasks. Database information is easily brought into DriveWorks as lists and tables/arrays which open the door to a slew of new functions.

The popularity of XML files has resulted in many systems, even home-grown systems, to store or export their data as XML. The DriveWorks Specification Power Pack (SPP) provides a task to “Import Data From an XML File into Constants and Controls”. This again, along with the Autopilot XML connector and the Import Specifications button, all require XML files formed in a very particular schema. Razorleaf has developed a specification task that will read the entire contents of a file into a constant that can allow you to bring XML from a file into DriveWorks. To handle larger data files, Razorleaf developed a second specification task that allows you to import XML data from a file using XPath expressions. XPath is easy to use and well documented on the web. A simple table, a handful of constants and a looping macro can be used to parse only the data that you need from an XML file.

The Razorleaf import tool can also be used to import the contents of a text file. This was built alongside the tasks provided in the SPP for importing data from a text file into constants and controls or into a simple table. These, along with the Autopilot file connector, all require a specific structure to your text file. DriveWorks provides a wealth of text manipulation tools, including IsMatch which allows for the use of Regular Expressions to parse data. Razorleaf will soon release a companion to its XML XPath task that allows users to extract information from text files using regular expressions.

So whether your information is coming from an old, legacy home-grown system, a very specialized calculator to perform code calculations, or a program required by a vendor or client, DriveWorks can handle this external information. A combination of specification tasks, functions and connectors are available to help you import, parse and utilize this data. If a few small specialized tools are required to interact with your files, those may be available in the Specification Power Pack or from Razorleaf. Contact us today.

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