Bridging on chain & off chain with Integration Studio

The SettleMint Integration Studio is a no-code solution for connecting existing enterprise systems to blockchain applications. It enables any developer to move from blockchain development to production in less time, and at lower cost.

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What is Integration Studio?

Integration Studio is an open-source tool for low-code development. The main goal of Integration Studio is to make it easier for developers to connect different systems together. SettleMint’s additions to Integration Studio – which take the form of a “gateway node” - empower the tool to seamlessly connect blockchain applications to existing enterprise systems by simply “dragging and dropping” within the Studio.

Why Integration Studio is important for your blockchain application

For your blockchain application to be useful, it’s crucial that it has the capacity to easily and correctly register real-world business processes and events. For example, in the context of a supply chain, we need a way to register on the blockchain that an item has been received at the warehouse. Most businesses already have systems in place that allow them to track the movement of items in and out their warehouse. They typically use Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software systems like those offered by Oracle and SAP. The challenge, then, is to integrate data from existing systems directly into your blockchain application. If you can do that, existing ERP systems will effectively be writing to your blockchain application automatically, meaning you won’t have to do any extra work. Integration Studio is your tool for getting this done quickly and easily.

Connecting systems without Integration Studio

Without the SettleMint Integration Studio, if you want to integrate your existing systems to your blockchain application (which you’ll need to do if you want your blockchain application to be useful), you’re going to need to start coding. Critically, the coding language you use will need to be one that works well with every system involved. Since most organizations use a variety of systems to manage their business processes - from simple email all the way up to Oracle databases - manual integration is therefore a costly and time-consuming proposition.

SettleMint Integration Studio

How SettleMint uses Integration Studio

Integration Studio can interact with blockchain applications thanks to SettleMint’s augmentation. SettleMint adds an extra “node” to Integration Studio that enables interaction with all smart contracts through their exposed REST APIs.

NOTE: “Nodes” in the context of Integration Studio have nothing to do with nodes as we think of them in the blockchain world (we know, it’s confusing!). 

When we speak of nodes in Integration Studio, it’s simply a reference to flow-based programming, where processes are illustrated like a flow-chart. The nodes in this context are boxes that are connected by arrows, so the “node” that SettleMint adds to Integration Studio is a new box in the flow-chart that can execute functions. As such, it is a crucial gateway from existing business systems to any blockchain application. Without SettleMint’s gateway node, Integration Studio alone won’t actually help you integrate your existing systems to your blockchain application!

Using SettleMint’s “gateway node” with Integration Studio:

  • all functions of every smart contract can be executed
  • wallet information can be obtained
  • all Ethereum events can be displayed
  • all configurations can be shown

Where Integration Studio fits in to the wider blockchain application development process

The SettleMint platform already offers tools to help overcome complexities and barriers when developing your blockchain application. For the process of smart contract development, we have a fully-fledged Integrated Development Environment (IDE) that’s based on Visual Studio Code. The IDE comes with a comprehensive smart contract library that acts as the foundation for your blockchain application, offering a huge development head start.

When development is done, smart contract “migration” (another word for installing a contract on a blockchain) is completed with a single click. Meanwhile, REST APIs are automatically generated, together with a swagger interface, providing a user-friendly set of developer docs. The Integration Studio is the next step. It allows you to automate processes towards integrating your business systems directly with your blockchain application.

How does Integration Studio work?

As mentioned, Integration Studio utilises flow-based programming. The Integration Studio project is based entirely on Node-RED, which is a browser-based editor that enables visual programming and allows functions to be executed directly from within the editor.

Integration Studio contains a long list of “nodes,” each one capable of executing a different function. Nodes in Integration Studio thus represent functions. To draw your flow, you will need to drag and drop different nodes/functions. There exist a multitude of nodes that can be used. Some of them are already installed for you in the SettleMint Integration Studio (such as OCR Tesseract functionalities, spreadsheets manipulations functionalities, and more). The 60 pre-installed nodes in 12 Modules that are included out-of-the-box with Integration Studio are enough to move a process from design to production. Yet this is a very small number compared to what is available in the entire Palette Library, which contains a further 2858 Modules for more complex integration scenarios. Those Modules include support for:

  • Azure IoT Hub
  • Oracle Databases
  • Salesforce
  • SAP
  • CISCO Webex.

 All the APIs provided by the SettleMint platform are also directly available on one of the Integration Studio nodes. With those, you can connect to your chain and send or read information from your smart contracts and network. When you finish drawing a flow, you should be able to find a way to call this flow from the outside world. This is done not by clicking a button in the Integration Studio, but by automating the process for when a certain action/event occurs. To do so, you have a module that allows you to create an endpoint on top of your flow. This ensures that you have an API that is available if you want to call the flow from the outside.

Conclusion

The SettleMint Integration Studio makes it possible to connect existing enterprise systems to blockchain applications by simply “dragging and dropping” within the tool. The SettleMint Integration Studio is thus an important tool for simplifying blockchain deployment.

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