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Connectors & instances introduction

Introduction

Understanding the relationship between connectors and instances is key when you are working with process flows. In short:
  • A connector is a generic integration of a third-party business system/application - it contains everything needed 'under the hood' (for example, endpoints, authentication methods, etc.) to sync data from/to the associated application.
  • An instance of a connector is unique to your company, personalised with your own credentials and settings. Any instances that you add are available for use in process flows when you add a connection shape.
These relationships are illustrated below:

Connectors

The chances are that your business uses a range of third-party applications - for example, you might take sales orders in Shopify, manage customer data in Voyado, and handle financial accounts in NetSuite.
In Patchworks, a connector is an integration of a third-party business system/application that you can install if you need to sync data from/to the associated application. A curated library of prebuilt connectors can be found in the Patchworks marketplace.
If you need to integrate a third-party application that doesn't have a prebuilt connector in the Patchworks marketplace - and if you have technical knowledge of APIs and working with data structures - you can use the connector builder to integrate any application with a REST API.
When you install a connector, you are installing a package of generic configuration and setup that's required to integrate the associated third-party application in Patchworks. You only need to install a given connector once. After that, you can add as many instances of it as you need for use in your process flows.
Similarly, if you update an installed connector, that update is applied to all associated instances automatically.
The Patchworks development team maintains all prebuilt connectors in the marketplace. If you have installed a connector, you may find that updates become available in the marketplace - you can decide if/when you apply these updates.

Instances

An instance is the mechanism used to configure a connector for your own use in process flows.
Instances are added to process flows via the connection shape.
Every instance requires authentication credentials that allow you to access the associated third-party application. Typically, you'll create one instance for each set of credentials that you have for a given connector that you want to use in process flows. The examples below show how this might work in practice.
Example 1: simple
In the simplest scenario, you might have one UK Shopify store which needs to sync orders to NetSuite. In this case, you would:
  • Install the Shopify connector (once)
  • Add one instance of your Shopify connector
  • Install the NetSuite connector (once)
  • Add one instance of your NetSuite connector
This is illustrated below:
Example 2: complex
For a more complex scenario, let's say you have three Shopify stores - UK, EU and US (each with its authentication credentials) which need to sync orders to NetSuite. In this case, you would:
  • Install the Shopify connector (once)
  • Add three instances of your Shopify connector - one for each store
  • Install the NetSuite connector (once)
  • Add one instance of your NetSuite connector
This is illustrated below: