FTP Support for Integrations

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Applies to: Pro, Plus, & Enterprise Plans

Introduction

This article describes our FTP support for various types of integrations, most commonly for scheduled data imports and exports. If you are looking for information on uploading course content or other files to your Absorb LMS portal, please see our Files help desk article. Please note that FTP access is not available for general file upload to the LMS.

Contents:

Scheduled Data Imports

Main Article: Data Imports

Scheduled data imports (sometimes called HRIS integrations or CSV Syncs) allow various objects such as Departments or Users to be automatically added to Absorb from an external source on a scheduled basis. For example you may have a list of users exported from your HRIS application nightly, and imported into the LMS automatically so as to keep your user-base up to date. This is accomplished by exporting a CSV file from the external application, in a predetermined format (see our Data Imports article), to an FTP site where it is then automatically processed by Absorb.

FTP Configurations

The following FTP configurations are supported for this type of integration:

  • Absorb-hosted FTPS: Absorb hosts the files. Credentials are provided to the external application so that it can connect and transfer files. This is the most common option. Please note that this option uses FTPS only (not SFTP).
    • Supported Protocol: FTPS
        • Supported Authentication: User/PW
        •  Supported File Encryption: (Optional) PGP
  • External-hosted FTPS/SFTP: An external system hosts the files. In this configuration, the files are originally dropped on the FTP by either an initial separate FTP file transfer or some kind of local file transfer on the external system. Credentials are provided to Absorb so that it can ultimately connect and pick up the files for processing. 
    • Supported Protocol: SFTP
        • Supported Authentication: User/PW
        • Supported File Encryption: (Optional) PGP
    • Supported Protocol: FTPS
        • Supported Authentication: User/PW or x509 certificate authentication
        • Supported File Encryption: (Optional) PGP

The choice of FTP configuration is usually made as part of implementing a new scheduled data import. Please make your Client Success Manager aware of your preference. Credentials will be exchanged securely once accounts are setup. Not sure which option to use? Absorb-hosted FTPS is the default and usually the easiest. 

Encryption

If you require your import files to be encrypted prior to transferring them to Absorb, you must request Absorb's public PGP key from your Client Success Manager. Use this public key to encrypt your files using your chosen PGP encryption tool.

Folders & File Management

Scheduled data imports usually employ the following folder and file management standards:

Absorb Hosted FTPS:

  • Files to be processed are dropped off in the root of the FTP.

    Alternatively, there can be multiple imports/exports using the same FTPS account. In this case each import/export would have its own folder off root, which can be considered the root for that import/export. Keep in mind that having multiple imports/exports on the same FTPS means that anyone with access to the account will have access to multiple integrations.

  • Files matching the naming convention are processed oldest to newest in order by last edited date.
  • Processed files are moved to the /Archive folder, with a separate sub-folder for each calendar day. e.g. /Archive/2017-04-17/Company_Users_20170417.csv
    Note: Archive files are only kept up up to 90 days after processing.

  • Unprocessed files (completely unprocessed, usually due to some exception or file issue) are moved to the /Unprocessed folder, with a separate sub-folder for each calendar day. e.g. /Unprocessed/2017-04-17/Company_Users_20170417.csv

Client Hosted FTPS/SFTP:

  • Files matching the naming convention will be pulled from provided host using provided authentication credentials.

  • Files are processed oldest to newest in order by last edited date.

  • After the files are retrieved and processed:
     • Option 1 - Read Only: It is up to the client to move/archive, delete, rename, etc as necessary after processing. Absorb will not delete, move, or rename files on your server. Keep in mind that files may need to be moved out of the processing directory before the next scheduled run to avoid processing the same file twice.
     • Option 2 - Archive: Absorb will attempt to move the file to an Archive directory on your server. If one doesn't exist we will attempt to create one, though preferably it already exists. Please ensure the FTP credentials provided for the integration have appropriate permissions for this option.

Scheduled Data Exports

Scheduled data exports (sometimes called Custom Reports, CSV Exports, or CSV Extracts) allow for customized data inclusion, formatting, and delivery schedules beyond the standard reports built into Absorb. Exports are generated in CSV file format and delivered by email, FTP, or both. Some integrations are achieved by setting up an automated processing of these files once exported. 

FTP Configurations

The following FTP configurations are supported for this type of export.

  • Absorb-hosted FTPS: Absorb hosts the files. Credentials are provided to the client or external application so that files can be picked up after generation. Please note that this option uses FTPS only (not SFTP).
    • Supported Protocol: FTPS
        • Supported Authentication: User/PW
        • Supported File Encryption: (Optional) PGP
  • External-hosted FTPS/SFTP: An external system hosts the files. Credentials are provided to Absorb so that we can connect and drop off the files.
    • Supported Protocol: FTPS
        • Supported Authentication: User/PW or x509 certificate authentication
        • Supported File Encryption: (Optional) PGP

    • Supported Protocol: SFTP
        • Supported Authentication: User/PW
        • Supported File Encryption: (Optional) PGP

The choice of FTP configuration is usually made as part of implementing a new export. Please make your Client Success Manager aware of your preference. Credentials will be exchanged securely once accounts are setup. Not sure which option to use? Please consult with us, as the best option is somewhat dependent on what the export is being used for.

Encryption

If required Absorb can encrypt generated reports using the PGP encryption method. To have your files encrypted, you will need to provide your PGP public key to Absorb.

Folders & File Management

Scheduled data exports usually employ the following folder and file management standards:

Absorb Hosted FTPS:

  • Each export will have its own folder off of the FTP root e.g. /Users_Export/.

  • The most recent export file will be dropped in the above mentioned export folder e.g. /Users_Export/Client_Users_20170417.csv

  • Each export folder will also have an Archive folder containing sub-folders per calendar day.
    e.g. /Users_Export/Archive/2017-03-24/Client_Users_20170324.csv
    Note: Files are only kept up up to 90 days after generation.

Client Hosted FTPS/SFTP:

  • Files are dropped in whatever directory is specified by the client.
    e.g. <client specified path>/2017-04-17/MyExport_20170417.csv

How can I access my files?

You may find it necessary to manually access these files for various reasons. For example a scheduled data export may be automated on the Absorb side, but then manually picked up manipulated by your admins. There are many FTP-client applications, many of them free, that can be used to connect and download files from an FTP server. We're fond of Filezilla (free) ourselves.

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