Understanding Bridges

Anne Ramey

What Bridges Are

Bridges are the mechanism the platform uses for connecting systems to the forms for working with and displaying the information. Bridges provide read only access into another system by containing the code for

  • Accessing the system
  • Querying the system
  • Formatting the system response into a standard format

This can be done to any system that allows API access. Bridges actually make the API calls, handling the login, the call, and formatting the results into a standard format regardless of the system being contacted.

Why Bridges Exist

Bridges create a standard and consistent interface for interacting with other systems for the form developers, regardless of what that other system is. They can access an AD bridge in exactly the same way they would access Samba; they can access Remedy exactly the same way they would access ServiceNow. They don't really even need to know what system they are accessing, just what data they want and what data each bridge will provide.

Bridges also prevent form developers and platform admins from having to perform authentication, send the queries, and format the results of the system in question. It does not matter if that system uses a REST API or a SOAP API. That is all handled inside the bridge. The platform admin just has to be able to know the data in the system being connected to well enough to map that data and build the correct query structures. The rest is taken care of already.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Many of the advantages have already been laid out:

  • Simplicity of interaction with searches
  • Consistency in returned data
  • Easy set up for form developers
  • Simplified set up for platform admins

There is one item that tends to qualify as both an advantage AND a disadvantage, depending on the system, search, and individual circumstances:

  • Bridges log in to the recipient system with one login. This allows a user to retrieve any desired data regardless of individual permissions.

Other potential disadvantages:

  • Form developers can only use bridges already configured. They must reach out to platform admins to configure new bridges.
  • It is possible for platform admins to set up bridges with obsure names for attributes, etc, which make bridges difficult to use for form developers. It is important the platform admins keep their audience in mind when setting up bridges and don't just use the names that match the system being searched for the fields. This may not be helpful or useful for the form developers.