Choose a Record Type Data Source

This page provides guidance on which data source option to select based on where your source data lives and how to configure the data source when you first create a record type.

Overview

Using data modeling concepts and a guided experience, the record type object makes it easy for you to bring in the data you need to create an application that simplifies and streamlines your business processes.

Create a Record Data Model

The Configure Data Source dialog displays four card options that allow you to select the right data source for your record type based on where your source data lives. You can choose one of the following source types:

When you select a database, Salesforce, or a web service as the source your record type, you have the option to enable data sync.

When you enable data sync, your source is cached in Appian. Keeping this data synced, and close by in Appian, means Appian can execute queries against your data much faster. As a result, Appian can leverage this increased performance to not only give you more responsive queries and reports, but also enable a host of powerful features, like relationships and custom record fields.

Database

A record type that uses a database as the source is the easiest and the most common to configure.

If your data lives in a relational database or a database table, the record type can access your source data through a data store entity (DSE) or from a cached copy of your database table if you sync your data in Appian. Learn more about data sync and when to use it.

Use a database table with sync enabled

To use a database table with sync enabled as the source of your record type, you'll use the Configure Data Source guided experience.

In this wizard, you will:

Choose a source type

The first step of the Configure Data Source guided experience is to select a source type.

  1. In your application, create a new record type object.
  2. On the Data Model page, click TELL US ABOUT YOUR DATA. The Configure Data Source dialog opens.
  3. For Choose Source Type, select Database.

    /Create Record Type/create a record data source module

  4. Click NEXT.
  5. For Data Sync, keep the default option Build Apps Faster with Sync.

    /Create Record Type/sync-dialog

  6. Click NEXT.
  7. For Choose Database Table, select a database table for your record type.
  8. Click NEXT.

Define source filters

After you select the source type, you will be prompted to configure source filters.

Source filters allow you to determine which rows from your data source are synced in Appian based on the conditions you specify. By applying source filters, you can sync data from large sources that exceed the 1,000,000 row limit on synced data, and focus your data so your record type only has data relevant to your business process.

If you expect the source to meet or exceed the row limit, consider applying one or more source filters to avoid reaching the 1,000,000 row limit or disable data sync.

You do not have to add source filters during configuration. You can add source filters anytime after configuration by clicking ADD FILTERS on the Data Model page of the record type. For more information, see Filter the Record Type Source Data.

To define source filters:

  1. Click Add Filter.
  2. From the Field picker, select the source field you want to filter the data. Only source types that can be converted to Appian types appear in the dropdown.
  3. From the Condition list, select the operator to apply to the filter.
  4. Use the context menu next to the Value field to select how you want to pass the value into the filter. The options in this menu change based on the data type of the field selected. You can enter a value directly or using an expression.
  5. Click Test Filter to validate your filter conditions.
  6. If you have more than one filter, use the up and down arrows to change the order in which the filters are applied. You can also delete a filter by clicking X.
  7. Click NEXT.

If you need more advanced filters or wish to use OR logic instead of AND when applying the filters, select Expression to create your filters manually.

For additional information on specifying filters as an expression, see a!queryFilter() or a!queryLogicalExpression(). For example of a source filter created in expression mode, see Filter the Record Type Source Data

Select and configure record fields

Once you’ve selected the source type and set your source filters, the last step is to select and configure the record fields in your record type.

By default, Appian creates a mapping between the source schema and the record type schema. As a result, the names of your record fields will match the source field names, and the types of your record fields will be the Appian data types that correspond with the source field types.

To select and configure the record fields:

  1. In Select and Configure Fields to Include, use the checkbox next to a Source Field Name to add or remove a field from your record type. You can have up to 100 fields.
  2. In Record Field Name, enter the name for the record field. This is the name that will be used to reference the field in Appian.
  3. In Record Field Type, use the dropdown to select the record field type. You can change text and integer record field types to type User or Group.
  4. Use the up and down arrows to change the order in which the record fields are displayed.
  5. Click FINISH.
  6. Click SAVE CHANGES to sync your data.

If a change is made to the source schema, you will need to update the record type with the corresponding change, otherwise the record type will fail to sync.

To update or modify the record fields mapped to source fields, click CONFIGURE FIELDS on the Data Model page of the record type.

Use a data store entity

To use a data store entity as the source of your record type:

  1. In your application, create a new record type object.
  2. On the Data Model page, click TELL US ABOUT YOUR DATA. The Configure Data Source dialog opens.
  3. For Choose Source Type, select Database.

    /Create Record Type/create a record data source module

  4. Click NEXT.
  5. For Data Sync, choose Disable sync and related features.
  6. Click NEXT.
  7. For Choose Data Store and Entity, select a data store for your record type.
  8. Select an entity from the selected data store.

    The CDT that connects to the DSE must have a primary key.

  9. Click FINISH.

See the Records Tutorial for detailed guidance on configuring a record type that uses a data store entity as the data source.

Process model

You can use any process model as the data source for a record type. Each running instance of that process model will be treated as an individual record of your record type. This type of record is less common, and can be a little more challenging to configure.

To create a record type from a process model:

  1. In your application, create a new record type object.
  2. On the Data Model page, click TELL US ABOUT YOUR DATA. The Configure Data Source dialog opens.
  3. For Choose Source Type, select Process.

    /Create Record Type/processmodel entity

  4. Click NEXT.
  5. For Choose Process Model, select a process model.
  6. Click FINISH.

Now, each active (unarchived) process instance will appear as a record.

Salesforce object

You may have external data in Salesforce that you want to use as your data source for your record type. Appian allows you to bring that data in through a Salesforce connected system and use it as the data source of your record type.

You can either select an existing Salesforce connected system or configure a new one, if none exist. When configuring a record type to use a Salesforce object, you have the option to enable data sync. By syncing your Salesforce data in Appian, you'll experience faster queries and better performance. Learn more about data sync and when to use it.

Use a Salesforce object with sync enabled

To use a Salesforce object with sync enabled as the source of your record type, you'll use the Configure Data Source guided experience.

In this wizard, you will:

Syncing 1,000 rows of data requires a single API call, so ensure the API limit on your Salesforce instance is large enough to support all Salesforce-backed record types with data sync enabled. Learn more about the row limit for record types with sync enabled.

Choose a source type

The first step of the Configure Data Source guided experience is to select a source type.

  1. In your application, create a new record type object.
  2. On the Data Model page, click TELL US ABOUT YOUR DATA. The Configure Data Source dialog opens.
  3. For Choose Source Type, select Salesforce.

    /Create Record Type/salesforce data model select

  4. Click NEXT.
  5. For Data Sync, keep the default option Build Apps Faster with Sync.

    /Create Record Type/sync-dialog

  6. Click NEXT.
  7. For Choose Salesforce Object, select a Salesforce connected system for your record type.
  8. Click NEXT.

Define source filters

After you select the source type, you will be prompted to configure source filters.

Source filters allow you to determine which rows from your data source are synced in Appian based on the conditions you specify. By applying source filters, you can sync data from large sources that exceed the 1,000,000 row limit on synced data, and focus your data so your record type only has data relevant to your business process.

If you expect the source to meet or exceed the row limit, consider applying one or more source filters to avoid reaching the 1,000,000 row limit or disable data sync.

You do not have to add source filters during configuration. You can add source filters anytime after configuration by clicking ADD FILTERS on the Data Model page of the record type. For more information, see Filter the Record Type Source Data.

To define source filters:

  1. Click Add Filter.
  2. From the Field picker, select the source field you want to filter the data. Only source types that can be converted to Appian types appear in the dropdown.
  3. From the Condition list, select the operator to apply to the filter.
  4. Use the context menu next to the Value field to select how you want to pass the value into the filter. The options in this menu change based on the data type of the field selected. You can enter a value directly or using an expression.
  5. Click Test Filter to validate your filter conditions.
  6. If you have more than one filter, use the up and down arrows to change the order in which the filters are applied. You can also delete a filter by clicking X.
  7. Click NEXT.

If you need more advanced filters or wish to use OR logic instead of AND when applying the filters, select Expression to create your filters manually.

For additional information on specifying filters as an expression, see a!queryFilter() or a!queryLogicalExpression(). For example of a source filter created in expression mode, see Filter the Record Type Source Data

Select and configure record fields

Once you’ve selected the source type and set your source filters, the last step is to select and configure the record fields in your record type.

By default, Appian creates a mapping between the source schema and the record type schema. As a result, the names of your record fields will match the source field names, and the types of your record fields will be the Appian data types that correspond with the source field types.

To select and configure the record fields:

  1. In Select and Configure Fields to Include, use the checkbox next to a Source Field Name to add or remove a field from your record type. You can have up to 100 fields.
  2. In Record Field Name, enter the name for the record field. This is the name that will be used to reference the field in Appian.
  3. In Record Field Type, use the dropdown to select the record field type. You can change text and integer record field types to type User or Group.
  4. Use the up and down arrows to change the order in which the record fields are displayed.
  5. Click FINISH.
  6. Click SAVE CHANGES to sync your data.

If a change is made to the source schema, you will need to update the record type with the corresponding change, otherwise the record type will fail to sync.

To update or modify the record fields mapped to source fields, click CONFIGURE FIELDS on the Data Model page of the record type.

Use a Salesforce object

To create a record type that uses a Salesforce object:

  1. In your application, create a new record type object.
  2. On the Data Model page, click TELL US ABOUT YOUR DATA. The Configure Data Source dialog opens.
  3. For Choose Source Type, select Salesforce.

    /Create Record Type/salesforce data model select

  4. Click NEXT.
  5. For Data Sync, choose Disable sync and related features.
  6. Click NEXT.
  7. For Choose Salesforce Object, select a Salesforce connected system for your record type.
  8. For Data Type, select a custom data type. This custom data type must match the output of the integration's expected response.
  9. Click FINISH.

Your enterprise data may be spread across a number of different systems. With the power of Appian integrations, you can use a web service as the data source for a record type.

When configuring a record type to use a web service, you have the option to enable data sync. By syncing your external data in Appian, you'll experience faster queries and better performance. Learn more about data sync and when to use it.

Use a web service with sync enabled

To use a web service with sync enabled as the source of your record type:

  1. In your application, create a new record type object.
  2. On the Data Model page, click TELL US ABOUT YOUR DATA. The Configure Data Source dialog opens.
  3. For Choose Source Type SOURCE TYPE, select Web Service.

    /Create Record Type/expression backed record with pickers

  4. Click NEXT.
  5. For Data Sync, keep the default option Build Apps Faster with Sync.

    /Create Record Type/sync-dialog

  6. Click NEXT.

Record data source (sync enabled)

After selecting a web service as your source type, the next part of the configuration is to use the rule picker for Record Data Source.

The Record Data Source is an expression rule that calls an integration and returns record data from the response body. This data needs to cast to a List of Map. This means you can return a List of Dictionary or a List of CDT as well. This will need to have at least one field that's non-null for every entry, to act as the primary key for the record.

/record_type_object_sxbr_1__configure_data_source

You can either select an existing expression rule, or create a new one by clicking the Create Record Data Source link to launch a guided experience that helps you easily create and configure the objects you'll need.

If you've chosen to allow more than 1,000 records by enabling syncing in batches, then you will need to apply the rule input to the underlying integration.

/record type object sxbr 3 test record data source

Once you've selected or created your Record Data Source, if the expression rule returns something that casts to a List of Map (such as a List of Dictionary), then you will see the first three rows of data in the Preview grid.

When you choose Web Service as the source type with sync enabled, the data is intended to come from a web service. For this reason, the Record Data Source cannot use plugins, query rules, or any of the following functions: query, queryEntity, queryProcessAnalytics, queryRecordType.

Syncing in batches

When the Record Data Source has no rule input, syncing in batches is not enabled. This means that your record type will be limited to 1,000 records.

If the Record Data Source has more than one rule input or the rule input is any type other than Number (Integer), then it is invalid. You will need to update the expression rule to proceed.

When the Record Data Source has exactly one rule input of type Number (Integer), syncing in batches is enabled. Although your record type is still limited to 1,000 records per batch, the expression rule will be executed multiple times to pull back multiple batches, allowing you to sync more than 1,000 records. With syncing in batches enabled, you can sync just as many records from a web service as you can from a Database Table or Salesforce.

It's important that you modify the underlying integration to apply this rule input in order to implement syncing in batches. Otherwise, sequential calls will just pull back the same data and the sync will fail. The expression rule will be executed multiple times, with sequential values {1,2,3…} being passed to the rule input. The expression will continue to execute until an empty set or null is returned.

If the underlying API requires a Start Index, you can calculate it with the formula 1 + ((batchNumber - 1) * batchSize) = startIndex. For an example of how this works with a batch size of 1000, see the table below:

Batch Number Start Index
1 1 + ((1 - 1) * 1000) = 1
2 1 + ((2 - 1) * 1000) = 1001
3 1 + ((3 - 1) * 1000) = 2001
4 1 + ((4 - 1) * 1000) = 3001

An error will appear if the Record Data Source returns anything other than an empty set, a null, or something that casts to a List of Map (e.g. a List of Dictionary). An error will also appear if the same primary key shows up in a single batch more than once.

Note that, while the example above uses a batch size of 1,000, Appian also supports fewer records per batch. For example, you could use a batch size of 100 if that's the largest number the web service can return in a single response.

When syncing data from a web service, Appian will repeatedly make requests to the web service until it returns all of the data. This can result in many requests in a short amount of time to the source system, and some systems may start to reject requests if too many arrive within a certain interval. To prevent overloading the web service, you can configure a rate limit to determine the maximum frequency of requests during a sync. The following rate limits are available:

  • 25 requests per second
  • 10 requests per second
  • 5 requests per second
  • 2 requests per second
  • 1 request per second
  • 1 request every 2 seconds
  • 1 request every 5 seconds
  • 1 request every 10 seconds

To configure a rate limit:

  1. Select the Data Sync tab.
  2. In the Rate Limit section at the top of the page, click Edit.
  3. Select the toggle to Enable Rate Limits in the dialog window and use the dropdown to choose the appropriate frequency.

    /rate limit dialog

  4. Click OK and save the record type. The next sync will apply the rate limit.

Other considerations when using the rate limit:

  • The rate limit determines the maximum number of requests in the given time period. The actual rate could be slower, especially if additional formatting or manipulation of the data is necessary after the request is made.
  • The rate limit is only applied to the sync. If other requests are made to the web service at the same time as the sync occurs, the total number of requests could still exceed the rate limit, so we recommend including a buffer. For example, if the web service allows up to 10 requests per second, it's safer to choose 5 requests per second for the sync rate limit to account for other simultaneous requests.

Use a web service

To use a web service without sync enabled as the source of your record type:

  1. In your application, create a new record type object.
  2. On the Data Model page, click TELL US ABOUT YOUR DATA. The Configure Data Source dialog opens.
  3. For Choose Source Type, select Web Service.

    /Create Record Type/expression backed record with pickers

  4. Click NEXT.
  5. For Data Sync, choose Disable sync and related features.
  6. Click NEXT.
  7. For Choose Record Data Source, select an expression that returns a list of records.

    See Service-Backed Records Tutorial to walk through how to configure a record type that uses a web service as the data source.

  8. Click NEXT.
  9. For Data Type, select a custom data type. This custom data type must match the output of the integration's expected response.
  10. Click FINISH.

Record data source (sync not enabled)

After selecting a web service as your source type, the next part of the configuration is to use the rule picker for Record Data Source. This is where you'll configure the data for your record type.

The Record Data Source configuration section is where you'll configure the data for your record type. This allows you to configure the integration that pulls in your external data source, the expression rule that calls your integration, and the rule inputs that define your paging, searching, and filtering parameters. Learn how to create user filters for a web service.

For a full walkthrough, see the Service-Backed Record Tutorial.

You can either select an existing expression rule, or create a new one by clicking the Create Record Data Source link to launch a guided experience that helps you easily create and configure the objects you'll need.

wizard rds connected system create

Single record source

The Single Record Source configuration section is where you'll configure the data for a single record view. This allows you to configure an integration that pulls in the data for a single record, the expression rule that calls in the integration, and the rule input that defines the record identifier for the record view that returns when the integration is called.

wizard srs integration create

Enable paging, search, and filtering

After configuring your record type to use a web service, you can enable paging and search for your record list by adding appropriate rule inputs to the record data source expression rule.

Add a rule input of type PagingInfo to the record data source expression rule to enable paging and sorting. Then, select the rule input from the Paging Info dropdown.

Similarly, to configure searching on your record, you must add a rule input of type Text and select the rule input from the Search Text dropdown in the record type.

/Create Record Type/Paging and Search Dropdowns

To enable filtering on the record list, you must add a rule input for each user filter to the integration for your connected system and the Record Data Source expression rule for the record type.

Each rule input should correspond to the type that will be returned by the associated user filter dropdown. The selected value will then be passed to the Record Data Source expression rule, where the developer can apply it to the integration.

To learn more, see User Filters for Service-Backed Record Types.

Test the record type

After configuring the expression rules that call the integrations for your record type, you can use the Test Record Source box to verify that the data results returned for your Record Data Source expression and Single Record Data expression are correct.

Simply select the view for the source expression you want to verify and click the TEST button.

record type test pane

The results of your record data source expression will be cast to the data type you selected for your record type, and displayed in a grid.

record type test pane source view

Although this view may look similar to the record list view you configured, it is not the same. Rather than showing your configured columns, the Test Record Source view will show you all of the fields on the data type that correspond to the record type. These record type fields can be used as inputs when configuring your record list. Note that in the record list you must use fv!row to reference the record fields values, not rv!.

You can also use this view to evaluate your rule inputs for paging, searching, and filtering. The rule inputs for these parameters apply to your record list view so you'll want to ensure they're working as expected.

When you select Single Record Source view, you will see the expression output cast to your selected data type. This displays all of the fields and values available for a single record. You can also choose how you want these record fields and values displayed in the view.

record type test pane single record

The Test Record Source pane displays the first 100 records of the DataSubset only.

See the Service-Backed Record Tutorial for detailed guidance on configuring the record data source and single record source. This tutorial also demonstrates how to use the Test Record Source pane to verify your record type views.

See the Appian 20.1 documentation for more information about service-backed record types, formerly called expression-backed record types, created with Appian 20.1 or earlier.

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