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Release of PathFinder 6.1

PathFinder 6.1

Last Friday we released the latest version of our PathFinder product. Both the tools and server distributions are now available on our extranet for download.

The upgrade to 6.1 is a significant upgrade involving changes to many tables in the PathFinder database, and therefore should be planned carefully to ensure that business dataflows are not interrupted. We have always suggested that while service packs can easily be installed by PathFinder users, full upgrades are best handled remotely or on site by Orion consultants, who can also provide demonstrations of the new features at the same time.

6.1 – the API release

More and more data transfers to internal systems, particularly those that are cloud-based, are being handled using a web services API of some type, usually RESTful in nature and sometimes involving SOAP. PathFinder has always handled a number of these, but additional functionality in 6.1 will greatly increase its abilities to handle APIs.

Authentication using OAUTH2 and the AssumeRole mechanism used for APIs hosted at AWS is now built in as standard, meaning that users can concentrate on the actual API work without having to spend time in authentication. Recent applications of this at our customers include use of Microsoft Dynamics and the Xero cloud accounting system, as well as bespoke APIs hosted at AWS.

Our JSON support, introduced in 6.0, continues to grow in parallel with the new API functionality, as many such APIs prefer to use JSON for both sending data in using POST and retrieving using GET. Additional options on the HTTP route allow easier identification and processing of files retrieved from an API, as many such JSON files do not contain sufficient fields to be self-identifying.

6.1 and organisations

For our bigger customers, PathFinder is often used by a number of business units each with their own set of trading partners. PathFinder now allows these to be categorised into organisations, and allows users to be set up to only access a particular organisation. That simplifies what a given user sees at the same time as providing security and separation from an administration point of view.

6.1 and platforms

We continue to ensure that PathFinder server will continue to run on the most convenient platforms for our customers. Having added RHEL8/CentOS8 during the course of the lifespan of 6.0, we are also now adding the current long-term support version of Ubuntu (20.04) and Amazon Linux 2 (particularly useful to those hosting at AWS). As support for RHEL6 is no longer available, this has been removed from our list of platforms.

Sunset time

We previously warned that we would be sunsetting PathFinder version 5.1 by the end of 2019. Due to the additional work caused to the IT teams working at our customers due to COVID, we haven’t wanted to enforce that, but we will now need to ensure that our users are on a current version that we can support properly. Consequently, we will be sunsetting version 5.1 finally at the end of June 2021, and users still on that version should make arrangements to start their upgrade process to ensure continued product support.

The end for 32-bit

PathFinder Server has only run on 64-bit hardware for some years now, but as of PathFinder 6.1 we will also no longer be supporting the PathFinder toolset on 32-bit Windows workstations. It is some time since we’ve come across a 32-bit workstation or had our customers mention one, so we don’t believe this will cause anyone any issues – if you are running PathFinder tools or the monitor on a particularly old PC, you may need to look at upgrading that machine.

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Orion was chosen as the EDI system supplier for these projects as PathFinder provides all the connectivity required to communicate with our suppliers and customers with all the required EDI formats - out of the box. Orion have also listened to us and incorporated our requirements into subsequent releases of the PathFinder product.

The Orion team at all stages of the decision making, development and deployment of the PathFinder product instilled us with the necessary confidence that they knew their subject matter and were able to help guide and advise us to make the correct strategic decisions.

Darren Yull, Director – Integration and Web Services, Exertis UK & Ireland