Parameterizing Dataflows

The dataflows you create with Centerprise can be ported to any number of target environments that may use different connections to data providers, or other settings specific to the target environment. For example, you can create and test your dataflow in a staging environment, and then deploy it in your production environment. Prior to deploying to your target environment, you may need to update the dataflow’s data connections to make them appropriate for the target environment.  The updating of data connections is made easy by using the Parameter Information Replacement dialog.



To open the Parameter Information Replacement dialog, click the image49.gif icon on the Dataflow toolbar.

The left-hand pane of the Parameter Information Replacement dialog shows the parameter tree with all the objects present in the dataflow. Select an object in the tree, and update its connection in the right-hand pane’s input as necessary.

Objects in the tree can be grouped by category, such as Source, Transformations, etc, or left ungrouped. The grouping is done by means of the two icons image49.gif image49.gif in the top left of the dialog.

Note: In the case of a scheduled dataflow running on a server, a similar functionality is available in the Job Parameters tab of the scheduled job interface in the Scheduler. For more information on Scheduler, see Scheduling and Running Jobs on a Server.


Context Information

In addition to aligning your data connections with a target environment, you might also want to ensure that any context information is suitable for the environment in which your dataflow will run. For example, make sure that the server name variable points to the correct server instead of being hard-coded. This can be achieved by using Context Information parameters. Context Information parameters take their values dynamically at dataflow run time. These parameters include ServerName, JobId, UserName, and DroppedFilePath, among others.

To use context information parameters in your dataflow, drag and drop the Context Information object from the Resources group in the Flow toolbox onto the dataflow.

An example of what a Context Information object might look like is shown below.




The following parameters are available:

Name - name of the dataflow, for example dataflow110.df

JobId - ID of the job assigned by the server

ScheduledJobId - ID of the job associated with a schedule in case of scheduled running on a server

ServerName - name of the server running the dataflow

UserName - user account that runs the dataflow

DroppedFilePath - path to the file being dropped, in case of a scheduled job of type 'when file is dropped'

Note: You can also assign default values to parameters. These values will take effect when no other value is available. To select a default value, open the properties of the Context Information object and enter the default value next to the parameter.



You can also define any number of custom parameters. These custom parameters can be used throughout the dataflow. They can be initially assigned a default value and then their value can change in the course of running your dataflow.

Custom parameters can be configured in the Parameters object. To add a Parameters object, drag it from the Resources group in the Flow toolbox and drop it onto the dataflow.

An example of what a Parameters object might look like is shown below.




To add a new parameter, open the Parameters object properties and enter your new parameter in the grid.  The parameter should be assigned a data type and it can be optionally assigned a default value.

You can also refer to most objects’ property values by using the $ (dollar sign) notation, such as $(object_name.field_name). This functionality is available in any area in the dataflow that accepts $ parameters.

Examples of dataflow areas that accept $ parameters are:

  • SQL Query Source

  • SQL Statement Destination

  • SQL Map

  • Parameter Information Replacement dialog

Below is an example using a $ parameter in an SQL Query Source object:

SELECT [dbo].[Customers].[CustomerID],




FROM [dbo].[Customers]

where CustomerId = '$SQLQuerySource1.CustomerID'


Shared Connections

The database connection you define in a dataflow object can be made visible or ‘shared’ to other objects on the dataflow. This allows you to use the shared connection in any number of objects within the same dataflow, as long as the object provides the capability to load a shared connection. Examples of such objects are: database source or destination objects, SQL Query Source object, SQL Statement Destination object, SQL Statement Map, etc.

Note: A similar functionality is available in the Recently Used dropdown menu, however, shared connections have the advantage of being named. The name of a shared connection is the same as the name of the Shared Connection object, for example, SharedConnection1. As a result there can only be one shared connection per each shared connection object.

To share a connection, add a Shared Connection object to the dataflow. To that end, open the Flow toolbox, expand the Resources group, and drag and drop the Shared Connection object onto the dataflow.

An example of what a Shared Connection object might look like is shown below.




As with any object on the dataflow, double click your Shared Connection object to open its properties.

Using the Database Connection screen, enter the connection details, such as server name, credentials, database name etc.

You can also specify shared connection options for transaction management. These options are available in the Shared Connection Options screen.

To use your shared connection, open the properties of an object whose connection you wish to populate with your shared connection. Simply select the Use Shared Connection option on the Database Connection screen and select a shared connection from the dropdown.

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