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Release Documentation for TimeXtender 6024

Introduction

Welcome to the new cloud-enabled version of TimeXtender! 

The biggest change by far is the introduction of cloud-powered ODX, data warehouse, and semantic model instances and with that, a turn towards a more web-based infrastructure and software-as-a-service business model. Instances are self-contained objects that can be strung together in the software to create the flow of data you need. No more messing with local repositories and projects, everything is managed by TimeXtender to create a more trouble-free experience.

What's new?

The new version of TimeXtender is a major reimagining of the application. All the changes are too many to list, but below is an overview of the major additions and changes. At the end of this article, you'll find links to all the new documentation - including screenshots - if you want to get into the nitty-gritty of the new release.

  • Cloud-powered instances as building blocks of the Data Estate
    As mentioned above, you build your TimeXtender Data Estate with ODX, data warehouse, and semantic model instances. They are created and managed by company admins in the TimeXtender Portal, and available for developers in TimeXtender Desktop when they've signed in. Instances, along with scheduled executions, are also the basis for our new usage-based pricing model.
  • Manage data sources in the Portal
    Admins can set up data sources in the Portal. Data source credentials can be kept confidential while allowing users to use the data source.
  • User management and access control in the Portal
    Users - and what instances they can access - are managed in the Portal.
  • No more hassle with license keys and client secrets
    Sign-in is now required to use TimeXtender Desktop. This means that you no longer need to enter license keys and activate the software. Setting up ODX services also makes use of sign-in to remove the need for messing with client secrets.
  • Full documentation - incl. the ODX
    You can now create documentation of your ODX just like you know it from the data warehouse.
  • Context-sensitive help
    In TimeXtender Desktop, you can click '?' in the title bar or press F1 in the different windows to be redirected to a relevant article on the support site, support.timextender.com. If there's no relevant article to show, you'll be redirected to the front page. We'll continuously improve the list of articles to ensure that there's a relevant article for the windows that spawn the most requests.
  • ODX: Oracle Data Source
    TimeXtender-enhanced data source with date and numeric range conversion and exclusion of system schemas.
  • ODX: Dynamics 365 Business Central data sources
    In the TimeXtender-enhanced data source for Dynamics 365 Business Central, you can select accounts. This saves you the hassled of filtering out tables that belong to accounts you don't need. In addition to that, we have a data source for getting a table with Business Central "option values" that you can use to enrich your data model.
  • ODX: Rollup data files in Azure Data Lake
    If you're using an Azure Data Lake for your ODX storage, each incremental load from the source creates a new set of files with data. To improve performance, you can now set up storage management tasks to rollup - or merge - these files to improve performance when loading from the ODX. The rollup utilizes Azure Data Factory.
  • ODX: Sync data sources through Azure Data Factory
    You no longer need direct access from an ODX to sync a data source that you are transferring data from using Azure Data Factory. You can now use an Azure Data Factory to sync data sources as well.
  • ODX: "Subtraction from value" option for incremental load
    You can now subtract a value or an amount of time from the incremental selection rule when you do incremental load, which is nice for making sure all changes are copied from the data source.
  • MDW: Data profiling
    As a supplement to the plain preview option in TimeXtender, you can run a standard analysis on a table to get an overview of the data profile.
  • MDW: Execute PowerShell Script as 'external step'
    You can execute PowerShell scripts as an 'external step' which provides endless possibilities for interacting with external components.
  • MDW: Lookup transformation
    With a new kind of transformation, you can manage small or trivial lookups in a more effective way compared to conditional lookup fields.
  • MDW: Multiple ODX table mappings based on filters
    You can now map multiple tables into one data warehouse table from the ODX based on filters.
  • MDW: Support for multiple ODXs as sources for one data warehouse
    You can now use data from multiple ODXs in one data warehouse.
  • SSL: Support for Power BI XMLA endpoint
    We've added a new semantic endpoint to semantic models, Power BI Premium, to support the Power BI Premium XMLA Read/Write Endpoint.
  • SSL: Semantic endpoint for CSV files
    We've added a new endpoint to enable export to CSV files. This was previously enabled by Data Export, which we have removed from the semantic layer.

Other changes

In addition to all the new stuff, we have changed or removed a bunch of the existing functionality in TimeXtender. That includes the following:

  • Improved synchronization from MDW->SSL and ODX->MDW
    Synchronization has been improved to give you a better overview of changes with the option to accept or reject changes as well as remapping fields in bulk.
  • ODX: Improvements to table selection
    You can now select tables for copying to the ODX from a list, much the same way as you might be used to from the business unit. This is an addition to the current rule-based system that you use to select what tables to copy from a data source in the ODX can be cumbersome to use when you're only interested in a few specific tables or the data source naming schema is too "chaotic" for rules to make sense.
  • ODX: Improved creation of ADF pipelines for transfer between for data lake and data warehouse
    We've changed the logic for transferring data from an ODX data storage on Azure Data Lake to a data warehouse through Azure Data Factory to use fewer pipelines which improves performance and reduces cost.
  • MDW: Removed SSIS as a transfer option
    The MDW layer has been simplified by removing SSIS as a transfer option.
  • MDW: Goodbye to Business Units
    Using the ODX has long been the preferred way to copy data from data sources. In the new version, it will be the only way, which means a goodbye to the legacy Business Units.
  • SSL: Goodbye to SSAS Multidimensional (OLAP) Cubes, the Qlik modeler, and Data Export
    We've simplified the semantic layer by removing everything that is not semantic models built in the shared semantic layer.
  • Removed deprecated features
    We've removed all previously deprecated features. This includes the following:
    Azure Data Lake Storage Gen1 as ODX data storage, regular expressions in the ODX, 'data aggregations' on data warehouse tables, 'Enable BK hash key' and 'Use left outer join' options on data warehouse tables, 'Force sub select' and 'Use temporary table' options on conditional lookup fields, 'SQL mode->Partition By' option on lookup fields, 'split' and 'concatenate' options on field-to-field data movement, 'time tables' in the data warehouse.

Next steps - planned features

When you build software, you're never truly done and we also have a bunch of stuff planned for the next releases. This includes the following:

  • Improved multiple environments
    Currently, you can copy one instance to another instance as a basic form of multiple environments functionality. However, we plan to implement much more extensive support for multiple environments. It will be available in the web interface and will include updating the relevant connections to save manual work.
  • End-to-end scheduling
    We plan to offer the option to execute and schedule ODX tasks and MDW/SSL execution packages together in one job that can automatically calculate dependencies between the included objects to ensure the correct execution order.
  • Automated migration
    The new TimeXtender contains some big and breaking changes, but we will provide a tool that allows you to migrate projects from previous versions of TimeXtender into the new structure in an automated fashion.
  • Custom(er) Data Sources - (Open Interface Data Source)
    With a new interface, you can create your own data source providers for the ODX.

Learn more about all the new features

Our customer success team has been hard at work documenting all the new stuff. Below you'll find links to the articles they've created - click one and take a deep dive into the latest release of the world's premier data estate builder! 

Getting Started - Setup TimeXtender

Getting Started - Configure Azure Services

Knowledge Base - Connecting to Data

Knowledge Base - TimeXtender Portal

Knowledge Base - Incremental Load, Execution & Scheduling

Knowledge Base - Data Validation, Quality, and Profiling

Knowledge Base - Design, Modelling and Transformations

Knowledge Base - Semantic Models

 

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