A DropPoint is a Windows Service that is installed on to a Windows server or workstation in order to enable Flowgear to access data sources that are not exposed to the Internet.

Overview

DropPoints facilitate communication of data between disparate data sources by creating an outbound connection into the Flowgear cloud. Because of this, it is usually not necessary to change firewall policy.


System Requirements

Supported Operating Systems:

  • Windows Server 2008 (not recommended)
  • Windows Server 2012 or later
  • Windows 8 or later


Installation and Registration

Warning: Before upgrading a DropPoint in production use, ensure the appropriate .NET framework version is installed on the server. Although the DropPoint installer will handle installation of the required .NET framework version, it is recommended that any .NET framework installation is done outside of business hours to ensure there is no disruption should a server restart be required. The current .NET framework version required by the DropPoint is 4.5.1

Download the DropPoint using the links provided in the DropPoints Pane in the Console. After installation, launch the Flowgear DropPoint shortcut which is created in the Start Menu. Sign in using your Flowgear credentials, then select the Site you wish to register the DropPoint against. This is the only way a DropPoint can be registered. To de-register a DropPoint, select it in the DropPoints Pane and click the Deregister button.


Cloned Virtual Machines

The DropPoint identity is retained in a file on the machine it's installed on. When a virtual machine is cloned, the DropPoint on both the original and the clone will identify as the same DropPoint which will cause transactions to route unpredictably. To prevent this problem, follow these steps:

  • Stop and disable the DropPoint service on the original machine
  • After cloning the machine, re-enable and start the DropPoint service on the original machine
  • On the cloned machine, delete the config.xml file in %ProgramData%\Flowgear\FlowgearDropPoint or %ProgramData%Flowgear\FlowgearDropPoint (x86)
  • Re-enable the DropPoint service
  • Launch the Flowgear DropPoint and register a new DropPoint (a new config.xml file will be generated)


32bit version

A 32bit version of the DropPoint is available to support integration with applications that run in a 32bit environment (eg. SYSPRO). In all other scenarios, the 64bit version should be used.

When to use a DropPoint

  • The data source (such as an SQL database) is not exposed through the company firewall to the Internet
  • The Node being used requires a DropPoint
  • The API for the service or product being integrated is not a web API (eg. COM)
  • The required data source is exposed to the Internet but not in a secured manner (eg. exposed as HTTP and not HTTPS).


Troubleshooting Connectivity

Flowgear DropPoints require access to Flowgear's REST API at https://api.flowgear.net.

Depending on where the DropPoint and Site are registered, other API endpoints may be accessed. To determine the endpoint needed for your Site, sign in to Flowgear and click on your Site name in the left-hand panel, then Edit this Site. Under the Pod label, look at the Pod number shown. For example, if you see Community (Pod 2), then the DropPoint needs to be able to connect to https://api.flowgear.net and https://api2.flowgear.net.

If the DropPoint is unable to connect to Flowgear, first check whether you are able to access one of these URL's in a browser from the same machine. Next, review the log file (located in %ProgramFiles%\Flowgear\Flowgear DropPoint or %ProgramFiles(x86)%\Flowgear\Flowgear DropPoint) to determine whether there is a connectivity issue.

If you are able to access the endpoint in a browser but the DropPoint is not able to, try running the DropPoint under a named user account. If this resolves the problem, consider whether a firewall could be blocking access based on user account.

DropPoint Protocol

As of V4, Flowgear DropPoints use WebSockets for communication and is secured over HTTPS. Additionally, all data is compressed and application-level transaction chunking and acknowledgement is applied enabling recovery of data when Internet connectivity has been disrupted.

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