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Informatica PowerCenter Tips & Tricks

(Read the previous trick, Rolling Sums & Averages Grouped By Key)

Informatica provides both a Web Service Consumer transformation and an

HTTP transformation that can access a remote webpage and return the
information provided (these days, usually in the form of JSON files). When the
web service requires input parameters, Informatica passes them through with
standard GET method (e.g. ““).

Unfortunately, RESTful web services do not use standard GET parameters.

Instead, a RESTful web service has a URI, i.e. a regular URL followed by a
URN that identifies a particular resource, and which acts as an input
parameter of sorts (e.g. “”). Informatica currently has no way of assembling
the URI on the fly; however, this limitation can be overcome. This will explain

The Challenge
In a recent Smartbridge project, this issue arose when our client wanted to
obtain information about their business from an external independent source
that offered the information through a RESTful web service. The URN had two
parts: a start date and an end date (plus a few other identifiers not relevant to
this post).

Due to business requirements and the nature of the data being served, it was
decided that we wanted the ETL to fully refresh the last week’s worth of data
daily, and perform a check for new records (but not perform updates) for the
entirety of the last month. This being JSON files, we would have to feed the
output from the web service into a Java transformation for processing, and
therefore the Java memory stack was also a concern (but that is a blog post
for another day). Bottom line, we wanted to make sure we could slice and dice
the dates depending on the circumstances.

The PowerCenter Approach

Ultimately, the best approach is to use the HTTP GET transformation with
a $$VariableURL already crafted for the variable values needed. You will be
required to provide at least one parameter, but if you feed it a NULL value, the
resulting URL will be valid. Remember that PowerCenter does not update
mapping variables’ values until session end, so the $$VariableURL needs to
be set to the needed value before the session in invoked – therefore, it must
be a Workflow variable, or a parameter file variable. We decided on a
Workflow variable, but the approach will work with a mapping parameter file
generated by a previous session of the workflow.

The Set-Up
1. Create a $$VariableURL_wf workflow variable. You can give it an initial
value if you want, but it will not be used. We placed the base URL there for
3. In the workflow, precede each session that will use the web service with an
Assignment Task that generates the correct URL for that session and assigns
it to $$VariableURL_wf. As mentioned above, in our case the variability of the
URI was exclusively time-dependent. If your case relies instead on values
read from a data source, I strongly recommend using a parameter file instead.
The resulting variable will be something like:

4. Assign the $$VariableURL_wf to $$VariableURL_m in the session, so that

it is available in the mapping
5. In the mapping(s), have the HTTP transformation use the

The Solution
By controlling the variable at the workflow level, this approach does lose much
of the flexibility you would get from a regular HTTP GET transformation
(where you can alter the variable at mapping runtime), but will nevertheless
get the job done. It is possible that Informatica will soon patch the HTTP
transformation to account for RESTful web services, but if so, it is likely at this
point it will only happen in version 10.

On the other hand, giving each variable value its own mapping creates an
enforced parallelism to the HTTP calls that can (and in our case definitely did)
increase the throughput. It was so successful, in fact, we parallelized several
other, more traditional, HTTP GET calls, and saw a significant increase in our
overall workflow speed.

While I wish Informatica would have a dedicated transformation for every
scenario I encounter, the bottom line is that web services and their protocols
are undergoing a very fast evolution at this time, and it seems new methods
are constantly on the rise. Informatica’s HTTP transformation has, so far,
always been able to access every web service we have encountered, even if
at times it has needed a bit of outside hel