Data & connectivity

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Open Document/Program

This action provides an interface with an external application and opens it using a command-line.

External applications can execute additional processing and provide result back to the NiceLabel 10. This action allows it to bind with any 3rd party software that can execute some additional data processing, or acquire data. External software can provide data response by saving it to file, from where you can read it into variables.

You can feed the value of variable(s) to the program by listing them in the command-line in square brackets.

C:\Applications\Processing.exe [variable1] [variable2]
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Note

If you use this action in NiceLabel 10 solutions, it allows you to open web pages or create email messages directly from your forms. See section Creating hyperlinks and sending emails on form in NiceLabel 10 user guide.

File group defines the file to be opened.

  • File name: location and file name of the file or application to be opened.

    The selected file name can be hard-coded, and the same file is going to be used every time. If only a file name without path is defined, the folder with NiceLabel Automation configuration file (.MISX) is used. You can use a relative reference to the file name, in which the folder with .MISX file is used as the root folder.

    Data source: enables variable file name. Select a variable that contains the path and/or file name or combine several variables that create the file name. For more information see section Using Compound Values in NiceLabel Automation User Guide.

    Note

    Use UNC syntax for network resources. For more information, see section Access to Network Shared Resources in NiceLabel Automation User Guide.

Execution Options group sets program opening details.

  • Hide window: renders the window of the opened program invisible. Because NiceLabel 10 is run as a service application within its own session, it cannot interact with desktop, even if it runs with the privileges of the currently logged user. Microsoft has prevented this interaction in Windows Vista and newer operating systems for security reasons.

  • Wait for completion: specifies for action execution to wait for this action to be completed before continuing with the next scheduled action.

    Tip

    Enable this option if the action that follows depends on the result of the external application.

Save Data to File

Product level info

Automation Builder features require NiceLabel LMS Enterprise or NiceLabel LMS Pro.

This action saves variable value or other data streams (such as binary data) in a selected file. The NiceLabel Automation service must have write access to the defined folder.

File group defines the file to be opened.

  • File name: location of the file to be opened within this action.

    Path and file name can be hard-coded, and the same file is going to be used every time. If only a file name without path is defined, the folder with NiceLabel Automation configuration file (.MISX) is used. You can use a relative reference to the file name, in which the folder with .MISX file is used as the root folder.

    Data source: enables variable file name. Select a variable that contains the path and/or file name or combine several variables that create the file name. For more information, see section Using Compound Values in NiceLabel Automation User Guide.

If file exists group handles options in case of an already existing file.

  • Overwrite the file: overwrites existing data with new data. The old content is lost.

  • Append data to the file: appends variable values to the existing data files.

Content group defines which data is going to be written in the specified file.

  • Use data received by the trigger: original data as received by the trigger is going to be saved in the file. Effectively, this option makes a copy of the incoming data.

  • Custom: saves content as provided in the text area. Fixed values, variable values and special characters are permitted. To enter variables and special characters, click the arrow button to the right of the text area. For more information, see section Combining Values in an Object in NiceLabel Automation User Guide.

  • Encoding: encoding type for the sent data. Auto defines the encoding automatically. If needed, select the preferred encoding type from the drop-down list.

Read Data from File

Product level info

The described feature is available in NiceLabel LMS Enterprise and NiceLabel LMS Pro.

This action reads content of the provided file name and saves it in a variable. Content of any file type, including binary data can be read.

Usually, Automation Builder module receives data for label printing using a trigger. E.g. if a file trigger is used, the content of trigger file is automatically read and can be parsed by filters. However, you might want to bypass filters to obtain some external data. Once you execute this action and have the data stored in a variable, you can use any of the available actions to use the data.

This action is useful:

  • If you must combine data received by the trigger with data stored in a file.

Warning

If you load data from binary files (such as bitmap image or print file), make sure the variable to store the read content is defined as a binary variable.

  • When you want to exchange data between triggers. One triggers prepares data and saves it to file (using the Save Data to File action), the other trigger reads the data.

File group defines the file to read the content from.

  • File name: location of the file to be read within this action.

    Path and file name can be hard-coded, and the same file is going to be used every time. If only a file name without path is defined, the folder with NiceLabel Automation configuration file (.MISX) is used. You can use a relative reference to the file name, in which the folder with .MISX file is used as the root folder.

    Data source: enables variable file name. Select a variable that contains the path and/or file name or combine several variables that create the file name. For more information see section Using Compound Values in NiceLabel Automation User Guide.

    Note

    Use UNC syntax for network resources. For more information, see section Access to Network Shared Resources in NiceLabel Automation User Guide.

Content group sets file content related details.

  • Variable: variable that stores the file content. At least one variable (existing or newly created) should be defined.

  • Encoding: encoding type for the sent data. Auto defines the encoding automatically. If needed, select the preferred encoding type from the drop-down list.

    Note

    Encoding cannot be selected if the data is read from a binary variable. In this case, the variable contains the data as-is.

Retry on Failure group defines how the action execution should continue if the specified file becomes inaccessible.

Tip

Automation Builder module might become unable to access the file, because it is locked by another application. If an application still writes data to the selected file and keeps it locked in exclusive mode, no other application can open it at the same time, not even for reading. Other possible causes for action retries are: file doesn't exist (yet), folder does not exist (yet), or the service user doesn't have the privileges to access the file.

  • Retry attempts: defines the number of retry attempts for accessing the file. If the value is set to 0, no retries are made.

  • Retry interval: time interval between individual retries in milliseconds.

Delete File

Product level info

The described feature is available in NiceLabel LMS Enterprise and NiceLabel LMS Pro.

This action deletes a selected file from a drive.

NiceLabel Automation module runs as service under a defined Windows user account. Make sure that account has the permissions to delete the file in a specified folder.

File group sets the file related details.

  • File name: the name of the file to be deleted. File name can be hard-coded. Data source dynamically defines the File name using an existing or newly created variable.

    Path and file name can be hard-coded, and the same file is going to be used every time. If only a file name without path is defined, the folder with NiceLabel Automation configuration file (.MISX) is used. You can use a relative reference to the file name, in which the folder with .MISX file is used as the root folder.

    Data source option enables variable file name. Select or create a variable that contains the path and/or file name or combine several variables that create the file name. For more information see section Using Compound Values in NiceLabel Automation User Guide.

    Note

    Use UNC syntax for network resources. For more information, see section Access to Network Shared Resources in NiceLabel Automation User Guide.

Execute SQL Statement

Product level info

Automation Builder features require NiceLabel LMS Enterprise or NiceLabel LMS Pro.

This action sends SQL commands to a connected SQL server and collects results. Use commands SELECT, INSERT, UPDATE, and DELETE.

Use Execute SQL Statement action to achieve these two goals:

  • Obtain additional data from a database: In Automation Builder module, a trigger receives data for label printing, but not all of the required values. For example, a trigger receives values for Product ID and Description, but not for Price. We have to look up the value for Price in the SQL database.

    SQL code example:

    SELECT Price FROM Products
    WHERE ID = :(Product ID)

    The ID is field in the database, Product ID is a variable defined in the trigger.

  • Update or delete records in a database: After a label is printed, update the database record and send a signal to the system that the particular record has already been processed.

    SQL code example:

    Set the table field AlreadyPrinted value to True for the currently processed record.

    UPDATE Products
    SET AlreadyPrinted = True
    WHERE ID = :(Product ID)

    Or delete the current record from a database, because it's not needed anymore.

    DELETE FROM Products
    WHERE ID = :(Product ID)

    The ID is field in the database, Product ID is a variable defined in the trigger.

Note

To use values of variables inside SQL statements, insert colon (:) in front of variable names. This signals that a variable name follows.

Important

When you create your solution with a database connection, use prompt variables on your labels instead of database fields.

Use the same names for prompt variables as are defined for database fields, for example:

Database field: food_products_1c.ProdCode

Prompt variable on your label: ProdCode

NiceLabel then automatically maps corresponding variables with database fields.

Database Connection group defines the database connection that is used for the statement.

Tip

Before you can send an SQL sentence to a database, set up the database connection. Click the Define button and follow the on-screen instructions. You can connect to a data source that can be controlled using SQL commands, so you cannot use text (CSV) or Excel files.

SQL Statement group defines an SQL statement or query to be executed.

Tip

Statements from Data Manipulation Language (DML) are allowed to execute queries upon existing database tables.

Use standard SQL statements, such as SELECT, INSERT, DELETE and UPDATE, including joins, function and keywords. The statements in DDL language that are used to create databases and tables (CREATE DATABASE, CREATE TABLE), or to delete them (DROP TABLE) are not permitted.

  • Test: opens Data Preview section. Simulate execution (selected by default) tests the execution of SQL statements. Click Execute to run the simulation.

    Tip

    Data Preview section allows you to test the execution of your SQL statement upon a live set of data. To protect the data from accidental updates, make sure the option Simulate execution is enabled. The statements INSERT, DELETE and UPDATE will execute. This enables you to gain feedback on how many records will be affected, then all of the transactions will be reversed.

    If you use trigger variables in the SQL statement, you will be able to enter their values for the test execution.

  • Insert data source: inserts predefined or newly created variables into an SQL statement.

  • Export/Import: enables exporting and importing SQL statements to/from an external file.

  • Execution mode: specifies the explicit mode of SQL statement execution.

    Tip

    In cases of complex SQL queries, it becomes increasingly difficult to automatically determine what is the supposed action. If the built-in logic has troubles identifying your intent, manually select the main action.

    • Automatic: determines the action automatically.

    • Returns set of records (SELECT): receives the data set with records.

    • Does not return set of records (INSERT, DELETE, UPDATE): use this option if executing a query that does not return the records. Either insert new records, delete or update the existing records. The result is a status response reporting the number of rows that were affected by your query.

  • Execution timeout: allows you to define the time delay for sending your commands to the SQL server. Use the execution timeout if you are sending multiple consecutive SQL commands that require longer processing time.

    Type the requested timeout duration in seconds. By default, the execution timeout duration is 60 s. If you want your database provider to define the timeout, type in 0 s.

Result group allows you to set how the SQL statement result should be stored, and to define action iteration.

  • Save Data to Variable: selects or creates a variable to store the SQL statement result. This option depends on the selected Execution mode.

    • Result of SELECT statement. After you execute a SELECT statement, it results in a data set of records. You receive a CSV-formatted text content. The first line contains field names returned in a result. The next lines contain records.

      Note

      To extract the values from the returned data set and to use them in other actions, define and execute the action Use Data Filter upon the contents of this variable (this action is available in Automation Builder).

    • Result of INSERT, DELETE and UPDATE statements. If you use INSERT, DELETE and UPDATE statements, the result is a number indicating the number of records affected in the table.

  • Iterate for Every Record. If enabled, NiceLabel automatically adds a new action For Every Record. See more about this action in a dedicated topic.

    Note

    Automatic database field mapping is enabled. Prompt variables on your label automatically connect to your database fields with the same names. For example:

    Database field: food_products_1c.ProdCode

    Prompt variable on your label: ProdCode

Retry on failure group allows you to configure the action to continually retry establishing the connection to a database server in case the first attempt is unsuccessful. If the action fails to connect within the defined number of attempts, an error is raised.

  • Retry attempts: specifies the number of tries to connect to the database server.

  • Retry interval: specifies the duration of time between individual retry attempts.

Example 65. Example

You would like to print labels with data from your food_products_1c database but only records with predefined field value UseBy.

You define UseBy value with variable ProdUser. In this case, ProdUser value is "3".

After each label is printed, NiceLabel writes database values in a text file on your disc. Use the following actions:

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UUID-bb85b16f-5c88-d990-f2c4-31e95428959a.png

Only labels where UseBy value equals "3" are printed and values are written in a text file:

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Send Data to TCP/IP Port

This action sends data to any external device which accepts TCP/IP connection on a predefined port number.

Send Data to TCP/IP Port establishes connection with a device, sends the data and terminates the connection. The connection and communication is governed by the client – server handshake that occurs when initiating or terminating the TCP connection.

Connection Settings group sets connection details.

  • Reply to sender: Enables direct reply to the socket from which the trigger data originates. Use this option to provide feedback about the printing process.

    Note

    This option is available in NiceLabel Automation.

    Prerequisites for Reply to sender setting are:

    • Remote party does not close the communication channel, once the message gets delivered.

    • Send Data to TCP/IP Port action is used within the TCP/IP Server trigger.

    • Do not configure the Execution Event in the TCP/IP Server trigger as On client disconnect.

  • Destination (IP address:port): destination address and port of the TCP/IP server. Hard-code the connection parameters and use fixed host name or IP address or use variable connection parameters by clicking the right arrow and selecting a predefined variable. For more information, see section Combining Values in an Object in NiceLabel Automation user guide.

    Example 67. Example

    If the variable hostname provides the TCP/IP server name and the variable port provides the port number, enter the following parameter for the destination:

    [hostname]:[port]


  • Disconnect delay: prolongs the connection with the target socket for the defined time intervals after the data has been delivered. Certain devices require more time to process the data. Insert the delay value manually or click the arrows to increase or decrease it.

  • Save data reply in a variable: selects or creates a variable that stores the server reply. Any data received from the TCP/IP server after passing the "disconnect delay" is stored in this variable.

Content group defines the content to be sent to a TCP/IP server.

Tip

Use fixed content, mix of fixed and variable content, or variable content alone. To enter variable content, click the button with arrow to the right of data area and insert a variable from the list. For more information, see section Combining Values in an Object in NiceLabel Automation user guide.

  • Data: content to be sent outbound.

  • Encoding: encoding type for the sent data. Auto defines the encoding automatically. If needed, select the preferred encoding type from the drop-down list.

Send Data to Serial Port

This action sends data to a serial port. Use it to communicate with external serial-port devices.

Tip

Make sure the port settings match on both ends – in the configured action and on the serial-port device. Serial port can be used by a single application in the machine. To successfully use the port from this action, no other application may use the port at the same time, not even any printer driver.

Port group defines the serial port.

  • Port name: name of the port to which the external device connects to. This can either be a hardware COM port or a virtual COM port.

Port Settings group defines additional port connection settings.

  • Bits per second: speed rate used by the external device to communicate with the PC. The usual alias used with the setting is "baud rate". Select the value from the drop-down menu.

  • Data bits: number of data bits in each character. 8 data bits are almost universally used in newer devices. Select the value from the drop-down menu.

  • Parity: method of detecting errors in a transmission. The most common parity setting, is "none", with error detection handled by a communication protocol (flow control). Select the value from the drop-down menu.

  • Stop bits: halts the bits sent at the end of every character allowing the receiving signal hardware to detect the end of a character and to resynchronize with the character stream. Electronic devices usually use a single stop bit. Select the value from the drop-down menu.

  • Flow control: serial port may use interface signals to pause and resume the data transmission.

Content group defines the content to be sent to serial port.

Tip

Fixed content, mix of fixed and variable content, or variable content alone are permitted. To enter variable content, click the button with arrow to the right of data area and insert a variable from the list. For more information, see section Combining Values in an Object in NiceLabel Automation user guide.

  • Data: content to be sent outbound.

Read Data from Serial Port

This action collects data received via serial port (RS-232) and saves it in a selected variable. Use this action to communicate with external serial port devices.

Port group defines the serial port.

  • Port name: name of the port to which an external device connects to. This can either be a hardware COM port or a virtual COM port.

Port Settings group defines additional port connection settings.

  • Bits per second: speed rate used by the an external device to communicate with the PC. The usual alias used with the setting is "baud rate".

  • Data bits: specifies the number of data bits in each character. 8 data bits are almost universally used in newer devices.

  • Parity: specifies the method of detecting errors in a transmission. The most common parity setting, is "none", with error detection handled by a communication protocol (flow control).

  • Stop bits: halts the bits sent at the end of every character allowing the receiving signal hardware to detect the end of a character and to resynchronize with the character stream. Electronic devices usually use a single stop bit.

  • Flow control: serial port may use interface signals to pause and resume the data transmission.

Example 70. Example

A slow device might need to handshake with the serial port to indicate that data should be paused while the device processes received data.


Options group includes the following settings:

  • Read delay: optional delay when reading data from serial port. After the delay, the entire content of the serial port buffer is read. Enter the delay manually or click the arrows to increase or decrease the value.

  • Send initialization data: specifies the string that is sent to the selected serial port before the data is read. This option enables the action to initialize the device to be able to provide the data. The option can also be used for sending a specific question to the device, and to receive a specific answer. Click the arrow button to enter special characters.

Data Extraction group defines how the defined parts of received data are extracted.

  • Start position: starting position for data extraction.

  • End position: ending position for data extraction.

Result group defines a variable for data storing.

  • Save data to variable: select or create a variable to store the received data.

Send Data to Printer

This action sends data to a selected printer. Use it to send pre-generated printer streams to any available printer.

NiceLabel Automation module uses the installed printer driver in pass-through mode just to be able to send data to the target port, such as LPT, COM, TCP/IP or USB port, to which the printer is connected.

Note

Possible scenario. Data received by the trigger must be printed out on the same network printer, but on different label templates (.NLBL label files). The printer can accept data from various workstations and will usually print the jobs in the received order. Automation Builder module will send each label template in a separate print job, making it possible for another workstation to insert its job between the jobs created in our own Automation Builder module. Instead of sending each job separately to the printer, merge all label jobs (using the action Redirect Printing to File) and send a single "big" print job to the printer.

Printer group selects the printer.

  • Printer name: name of the printer to send the data to. Select the printer from the drop-down list of locally installed printer drivers, enter a custom printer name, or define it dynamically using an existing or newly created variable.

Data Source group defines the content to be sent to printer.

  • Use data received by the trigger: trigger-received data it used. In this case, you want the received printer stream to be used as an input to the filter. Your goal is to redirect it to a printer without any modification. The same result can be achieved by enabling the internal variable DataFileName and using the contents of the file it refers to. For more information, see section Using Compound Values in NiceLabel Automation user guide.

  • File name: path and file name of the file containing a printer stream. Content of the specified file is sent to a printer. Select Data source to define the file name dynamically using a variable value.

  • Variable: variable (existing or new) that contains the printer stream.

  • Custom: defines custom content to be sent to a printer. Fixed content, mix of fixed and variable content, or variable content alone are permitted. To enter variable content, click the button with arrow to the right of data area and insert a variable from the list. For more information, see section Combining Values in an Object in NiceLabel 10 user guide.

HTTP Request

Product level info

Automation Builder features require LMS Enterprise.

This action sends data to the destination Web server using the selected HTTP method. HTTP and HTTPS URI schemes are allowed.

HTTP works as a request-response protocol in client-server computing model. In this action, NiceLabel 10 acts as a client that communicates with a remote server. This action submits a selected HTTP request message to a server. The server returns a response message, which can contain completion status information about the request and may also contain requested content in its body.

Connection Settings group sets connection parameters.

Note

This action supports Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6).

  • Destination: address, port and destination (path) of the Web server.

    Tip

    If a Web server runs on default port 80, skip the port number. Hard-code the connection parameters and use a fixed host name or IP address. Use a variable value to define this option dynamically. For more information, see section Using Compound Values in NiceLabel Automation user guide.

    Example 73. Example

    If the variable hostname provides the Web server name and the variable port provides the port number, you can enter the following for the destination:

    [hostname]:[port]


  • Request method: available request methods.

  • Timeout: timeout duration (in ms) during which the server connection should be established and response received.

  • Save status reply in a variable: variable to store the status code received from the server.

    Tip

    Status code in range 2XX is a success code. Common "OK" response is code 200. Codes 5XX are server errors.

  • Save data reply in a variable: variable to store the data received from the server.

Authentication group enables you to secure the Web server connection.

  • Enable basic authentication: allows you to enter the required credentials to connect to the Web server. User name and password can either be fixed or provided using a variable.

Note

HTTP Basic authentication (BA) uses static standard HTTP headers. The BA mechanism provides no confidentiality protection for the transmitted credentials. They are merely encoded with Base64 in transit, but are not encrypted or hashed in any way. Basic Authentication should be used over HTTPS.

  • Show password: unmasks the password characters.

Content group defines the contents to be sent to a Web server.

  • Data: content to be sent outbound. Fixed content, mix of fixed and variable content, or variable content alone are permitted. To enter variable content, click the button with arrow to the right of data area and insert variable from the list. For more information, see section Combining Values in an Object in NiceLabel 10 user guide.

  • Encoding: encoding type for the sent data.

    Tip

    Auto defines the encoding automatically. If needed, select the preferred encoding type from the drop-down list.

  • Type: Content-Type property of the HTTP message. If no type is selected, the default application/x-www-form-urlencoded is used. If an appropriate type is not listed, define a custom one or set a variable that would define it dynamically.

Additional HTTP Headers are requested by certain HTTP servers (especially for REST services).

  • Additional headers: hard coded headers or headers obtained from variable values. To access the variables, click the small arrow button to the right hand side of the text area. For more information, see section Combining Values in an Object in NiceLabel 10 user guide.

    Certain HTTP servers (especially for REST services) require custom HTTP headers to be included in the message. This section allows you to provide the required HTTP header.

    HTTP headers must be entered using the following syntax:

    header field name: header field value

    For example, to use the header field names Accept, User-Agent and Content-Type, you could use the following syntax:

    Accept: application/json; charset=utf-8
    User-Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 6.3; WOW64) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/31.0.1650.63 Safari/537.36
    Content-Type: application/json; charset=UTF-8

    You can hard code the header field names, or you can obtain their values from trigger variables. Use as many custom header fields as you want, just make sure that each header field is placed in a new line.

    Note

    The entered HTTP headers override the already defined headers elsewhere in the action properties, such as Content-Type.

Web Service

Product level info

Automation Builder features require LMS Enterprise.

Web Service is a method of communication between two electronic devices or software instances. Web Service is defined as a data exchange standard. It uses XML format to tag the data, SOAP protocol is used to transfer the data, and WSDL language is used to describe the available services.

This action connects to a remote Web service and executes the methods on it. Methods can be described as actions that are published on the Web Service. The action sends inbound values to the selected method in the remote Web service, collects the result and saves it in selected variables.

After importing the WSDL and adding a reference to the Web Service, its methods are listed in the Method combo box.

Note

You can transfer simple types over the Web Service, such as string, integer, boolean, but not the complex types. The WSDL must contain single binding only.

Note

You plan to print product labels. Your trigger would receive only a segment of the required data. E.g. the trigger receives the value for Product ID and Description variables, but not the Price. The price information is available in a separate database, which is accessible over Web service call. Web service defines the function using a WSDL definition. For example, function input is Product ID and its output is Price. The Web Service action sends Product ID to the Web service. It executes and makes an internal look up in its database and provide the matching Price as the result. The action saves the result in a variable, which can be used on the label.

Web Service Definition group includes the following settings:

Note

This action supports Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6).

  • WSDL: location of WSDL definition.

    WSDL is usually provided by the Web service. Typically, you would enter the link to WSDL and click Import to read the definition. If facing troubles while retrieving the WSDL from online resource, save the WSDL to a file and enter the path with file name to load the methods from it. NiceLabel 10 automatically detects if the remote Web Service uses a document or RPC syntax, and whether it communicates appropriately or not.

  • Address: address at which the Web Service is published.

    Initially, this information is retrieved from the WSDL, but can be updated before the action is executed. This is helpful for split development / test / production environments, where the same list of actions is used, but with different names of servers on which the Web Services run.

    Fixed content, mix of fixed and variable content, or variable content alone are permitted. To enter variable content, click the button with arrow to the right hand side of data area and insert variable from the list. For more information, see section Combining Values in an Object in NiceLabel 10 user guide.

  • Method: methods (functions) that are available for the selected Web service. The list is automatically populated by the WSDL definition.

  • Parameters: input and output variables for the selected method (function).

    Inbound parameters expect an input. For testing and troubleshooting reasons, you can enter a fixed value and see the preview result on-screen. Typically, you would select a variable for inbound parameter. Value of that variable will be used as input parameter. The outbound parameter provides the result from the function. You must select the variable that will store the result.

  • Timeout: timeout after which the connection to a server is established.

Authentication enables basic user authentication. This option defines user credentials that are necessary to establish an outbound call to a remote web service.

  • Enable basic authentication: enables defining the Username and Password that can be entered manually or defined by variable values. Select Data sources to select or create the variables.

  • Show password: uncovers the masked Username and Password characters.

    Details about security concerns, are available in section Securing Access to your Triggers in NiceLabel Automation user guide.

Data Preview field allows you to perform a test Web service execution.

  • Execute button executes a Web service call.

    It sends values of inbound parameters to the Web service and provides the result in the outbound parameter. Use this functionality to test the execution of a Web service. You can enter values for inbound parameters and see the result on-screen. When satisfied with execution, replace the entered fixed value for inbound parameter with a variable from the list.