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Edit and Search JSON External Objects

Use the API Server to securely provide OData feeds of JSON services to smart devices and cloud-based applications. Use the API Server and Salesforce Connect to create JSON objects that you can access from apps and the dashboard.

The CData API Server, when paired with the ADO.NET Provider for JSON (or any of 200+ other ADO.NET Providers), enables you to access JSON services from cloud-based applications like the Salesforce console and mobile applications like the Salesforce1 Mobile App. In this article, you will use the API Server and Salesforce Connect to access JSON external objects alongside standard Salesforce objects.

Set Up the API Server

Follow the steps below to begin producing secure JSON OData services:

Deploy

The API Server runs on your own server. On Windows, you can deploy using the stand-alone server or IIS. On a Java servlet container, drop in the API Server WAR file. See the help documentation for more information and how-tos. You can find guides to deploying the API Server on Azure, Amazon EC2, and Heroku in the CData KB.

Connect to JSON

After you deploy the API Server and the ADO.NET Provider for JSON, provide authentication values and other connection properties needed to connect to JSON by clicking Settings -> Connection and adding a new connection in the API Server administration console.

See the Getting Started chapter in the data provider documentation to authenticate to your data source: The data provider models JSON APIs as bidirectional database tables and JSON files as read-only views (local files, files stored on popular cloud services, and FTP servers). The major authentication schemes are supported, including HTTP Basic, Digest, NTLM, OAuth, and FTP. See the Getting Started chapter in the data provider documentation for authentication guides.

After setting the URI and providing any authentication values, set DataModel to more closely match the data representation to the structure of your data.

The DataModel property is the controlling property over how your data is represented into tables and toggles the following basic configurations.

  • Document (default): Model a top-level, document view of your JSON data. The data provider returns nested elements as aggregates of data.
  • FlattenedDocuments: Implicitly join nested documents and their parents into a single table.
  • Relational: Return individual, related tables from hierarchical data. The tables contain a primary key and a foreign key that links to the parent document.

See the Modeling JSON Data chapter for more information on configuring the relational representation. You will also find the sample data used in the following examples. The data includes entries for people, the cars they own, and various maintenance services performed on those cars.

You can then choose the JSON entities you want to allow the API Server access to by clicking Settings -> Resources.

Authorize API Server Users

After determining the OData services you want to produce, authorize users by clicking Settings -> Users. The API Server uses authtoken-based authentication and supports the major authentication schemes. Access can also be restricted based on IP address; by default, only connections to the local machine are allowed. You can authenticate as well as encrypt connections with SSL.

Connect to JSON Services as an External Data Source

Follow the steps below to connect to the feed produced by the API Server.

  1. Log into Salesforce and click Setup -> Develop -> External Data Sources.
  2. Click New External Data Source.
  3. Enter values for the following properties:
    • External Data Source: Enter a label to be used in list views and reports.
    • Name: Enter a unique identifier.
    • Type: Select the option "Salesforce Connect: OData 4.0".
    • URL: Enter the URL to the OData endpoint of the API Server. The format of the OData URL is https://your-server:your-port.rsc.

      Note that plain-text is suitable for only testing; for production, use TLS.

  4. Select the Writable External Objects option.
  5. Select JSON in the Format menu.

  6. In the Authentication section, set the following properties:
    • Identity Type: If all members of your organization will use the same credentials to access the API Server, select "Named Principal". If the members of your organization will connect with their own credentials, select "Per User".
    • Authentication Protocol: Select Password Authentication to use basic authentication.
    • Certificate: Enter or browse to the certificate to be used to encrypt and authenticate communications from Salesforce to your server.
    • Username: Enter the username for a user known to the API Server.
    • Password: Enter the user's authtoken.

Synchronize JSON Objects

After you have created the external data source, follow the steps below to create JSON external objects that reflect any changes in the data source. You will synchronize the definitions for the JSON external objects with the definitions for JSON tables.

  1. Click the link for the external data source you created.
  2. Click Validate and Sync.
  3. Select the JSON tables you want to work with as external objects.

Access JSON Services as Salesforce Objects

After adding JSON services as an external data source and syncing JSON tables with JSON external objects, you can use the external objects just as you would standard Salesforce objects.

  • Create a new tab with a filter list view:

  • Display related lists of JSON external objects alongside standard Salesforce objects:

  • Create, read, update, and delete JSON objects from tabs on the Salesforce dashboard:

Troubleshooting

You can use the following checklist to avoid typical connection problems:

  • Ensure that your server has a publicly accessible IP address. Related to this check, but one layer up, at the operating system layer, you will also need to ensure that your firewall has an opening for the port the API Server is running on. At the application layer, ensure that you have added trusted IP addresses on the Settings -> Security tab of the administration console.
  • Ensure that you are using a connection secured by an SSL certificate from a commercial, trusted CA. Salesforce does not currently accept self-signed certificates or internal CAs.
  • Ensure that the server you are hosting the API Server on is using TLS 1.1 or above. If you are using the .NET API Server, you can accomplish this by using the .NET API Server's embedded server.

    If you are using IIS, TLS 1.1 and 1.2 are supported but not enabled by default. To enable these protocols, refer to the how-to on MSDN and the Microsoft technical reference.

    If you are using the Java edition, note that TLS 1.2 is enabled by default in Java 8 but not in Java 6 or 7. If you are using these earlier versions, you can refer to this this Oracle how-to.