Nintex and Extensibility
One of the most valuable things about the Nintex Workflow Platform is that it's extensible. We don't just make it easy for customers and partners to create sophisticated workflows; we also provide multiple ways for enterprises to connect their workflows to their critical applications, services, data stores, and systems of record.
One way is our pre-built connectors, which can be used to link our workflows to dozens of widely used enterprise solutions such as Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Box, and Dropbox. We also provide extensibility through things like the highly configurable "Call a web service" action, the "query JSON" action, and External Start, which lets you kick off a workflow from an event outside your Nintex environment.
Now we're providing a new type of extensibility: the Nintex Xtensions Framework, which enables developers and technology partners to create custom connectors and custom actions that plug seamlessly into the Nintex Workflow Platform to connect it to bespoke and third-party platforms. Nintex Xtensions currently works on top of your Nintex Workflow Cloud tenant and will grow to encompass more Nintex products in the future. Our intent with Xtensions is that developers will be able to code and deploy connectors for workflow designers, who can then design workflows without writing code (just like the entire Nintex Workflow Platform). We are currently developing the ability to create custom start events; custom form controls are also on our road map. Ultimately, the Xtensions framework will feature a gallery for customers and partners to share their custom connectors and form controls.
The Nintex Xtensions portal in Nintex Workflow Cloud
How do I create a custom connector using Nintex Xtensions™?
The process of creating a custom connector starts by defining the API you want to integrate with, and then importing and configuring that definition in the Xtensions page of your Nintex Workflow Cloud tenant. Your definition is then available as an action in the workflow design canvas and available to use in your workflow designs.
Nintex Xtensions uses the industry standard in API definition
Custom actions are defined by creating a description of the target API service in an OpenAPI Specification (OAS), formerly known as the Swagger specification. We have chosen JSON and OpenAPI as a standard for the Xtensions framework for a number of reasons:
- It has a wide range of tooling support covering major frameworks such as .NET, NodeJS and Java.
- OpenAPI Specification is rapidly being adopted as the industry standard for API description, gaining traction with the likes of Microsoft, Google, and Atlassian.
- JSON is easily readable by both humans and software, and this makes it easy to edit.
Another benefit of using the OpenAPI specification is that the definition is open, reusable and language-agnostic. Adhering to open standards means it is fast and simple to integrate apps, services and data sources into Nintex.
OpenAPI specification supports four authentication templates: no authentication, basic authentication (username & password), API Key authentication and OAuth2. On top of these base templates, Nintex Xtensions has added variations on OAuth2 definitions specifically for Azure Active Directory, Microsoft Graph, Google, and SharePoint Online.
Configuring the security settings during the custom connector import process.
Extending the OpenAPI Specification
Nintex Xtensions leverages OAS Specification Extensions to describe and define extra functionality that is not covered by the standard specification. Specification Extensions allows Nintex to control operations like the user interface in the action configuration panel, and to chain API calls together to configure complex operations.
Nintex Xtensions has a comprehensive SDK and developer documentation that steps users through the basics of API calls and writing basic custom actions through to advanced topics such as leveraging Nintex Specification Extensions to create dynamically driven custom actions.
The Nintex Xtensions SDK
In addition, the SDK has great example custom connectors and case studies to explore, including creating tasks with a Google Tasks connector, automating a customer suggestion box with PurgoMalum, assessing business proposals with the knowledge computation engine Wolfram Alpha, and a case study using the project management software Asana that creates a task to review a file.
Look out for more posts on Nintex Xtensions in the coming weeks!
As always, we look forward to your feedback and input on how you use Nintex Xtensions.