Build Dashboards with USPS Data in DBxtra

Create dynamic dashboards and perform analytics based on USPS data in DBxtra.

The CData ODBC Driver for USPS enables access to live data from USPS under the ODBC standard, allowing you work with USPS data in a wide variety of BI, reporting, and ETL tools and directly, using familiar SQL queries. This article shows how to connect to USPS data as a generic ODBC Data Provider and create charts, reports, and dashboards based on USPS data in DBxtra.

Connect to USPS Data

  1. If you have not already done so, provide values for the required connection properties in the data source name (DSN). You can configure the DSN using the built-in Microsoft ODBC Data Source Administrator. This is also the last step of the driver installation. See the "Getting Started" chapter in the Help documentation for a guide to using the Microsoft ODBC Data Source Administrator to create and configure a DSN.

    To authenticate with USPS, set the following connection properties.

    • PostageProvider: The postage provider to use to process requests. Available options are ENDICIA and STAMPS. If unspecified, this property will default to ENDICIA.
    • UseSandbox: This controls whether live or test requests are sent to the production or sandbox servers. If set to true, the Password, AccountNumber, and StampsUserId properties are ignored.
    • StampsUserId: This value is used for logging into authentication to the Stamps servers. This value is not applicable for Endicia and is optional if UseSandbox is true.
    • Password: This value is used for logging into Endicia and Stamps servers. If the postage provider is Endicia, this will be the pass phrase associated with your postage account. It is optional if UseSandbox is true.
    • AccountNumber: The shipper's account number. It is optional if UseSandbox is true.
    • PrintLabelLocation: This property is required to use the GenerateLabels or GenerateReturnLabels stored procedures. This should be set to the folder location where generated labels should be stored.

    The Cache Database

    Many of the useful task available from USPS require a lot of data. To ensure this data is easy to input and recall later, utilize a cache database to make requests. Set the cache connection properties in order to use the cache:

    • CacheLocation: The path to the cache location, for which a connection will be configured with the default cache provider. For example, C:\users\username\documents\uspscache

    As an alternative to CacheLocation, set the combination of CacheConnection and CacheProvider to configure a cache connection using a provider separate from the default.

    When you configure the DSN, you may also want to set the Max Rows connection property. This will limit the number of rows returned, which is especially helpful for improving performance when designing reports and visualizations.

  2. Open the DBxtra application and in the New menu click Project and name the Project.
  3. Select ODBC Connection as the Data Connection Type.
  4. Click the browse option () for the Data Source.
  5. In the Data Link Properties window, select Microsoft OLE DB Provider for ODBC Drivers on the Provider tab.
  6. On the Connection tab, select the Data Source Name and the initial catalog to use (CData).
  7. Name the Connection and select the appropriate User Groups.
  8. Double-click the Connection from within the Project to connect to the data.

Create a Dashboard with USPS Data

You are now ready to create a dashboard with USPS data.

  1. Right-click Report Objects under the Project and select New Report Object.
  2. In the new Report Object, click the link to create the Query.
  3. In the Select Data Connection window, select the newly created data connection.
  4. On the Query tab, expand the connection objects and select the Tables, Views, and specific columns you wish to include in your dashboard. You can specify search requirements and even create complex queries which include JOINs and aggregations.
  5. On the Dashboard tab, select the visualizations and features for your dashboard. Assign the data values from the query to the appropriate fields for the Dashboards items (Values, Series, etc.)

With a new Dashboard created, you are ready to begin analysis of USPS data. Thanks to the ODBC Driver for USPS, you can refresh the Dashboard and immediately see any changes made at the source. In the same way, you can create and view Reports with live, up-to-date USPS data.