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Windward Solutions: Data Security


When a prospective client approaches us about integrating our solution, often the first question they have is about how we handle data security.

So I want to share with you how Windward works with the vast array of security protocols that exist in today’s world. In this blog post you will learn how we operate in regards to security as well as the reasoning behind our methodologies.

Secured Access

I always like to differentiate the two distinct ways in which the Windward Solution will interact with your data. We consider secured access to come in two variations: the way Windward accesses your files (templates and report output) and the way Windward accesses the storage mediums that house your data.

File-Based Security

When working with the Windward solution, two file types are typically generated:

  1. The template, designed in AutoTag.
  2. The actual report output, which is generated during template execution.

At the end of the day, these are all regular files that reside on a file system or repository. While we do have some clients storing their template and report output files in databases or other storage mediums, they most typically store them on a file system.

Sample log in screen

Because Windward interacts directly with the file system layer, we use the existing security that you have already built in your organization. This means there is no need to use and maintain another security layer to access Windward file components. Whether you have deployed an Active Directory or similar LDAP structure in your environment, Windward will be able to connect and interact with files stored in those mediums through a standard username and password validate or a token-based system.

For Active Directory connections, Windward can authenticate as the currently logged in session user. Or, you can choose to provide a username and password for another user setup on the system.

The same applies for LDAP connections in Unix-based environments. You just need to provide the username and password of the user who has access to the file on your target system.

Data-Based Security

Data storage comes in many different flavors and Windward is always expanding its connectivity to its already large library of data source connectors. Windward even maintains an open source library of our connectors, named Kailua, so that others can benefit from our protocol connectivity development.

(You can see a full list of the data sources that Windward currently provides. We provide a large library of SQL-based, file-based, Web-based and Big Data-based connectors.)

Windward works with your data structure connectivity in much the same way that we work with our file connectivity: we allow you to utilize the existing underlying data security structure you already have in place.

Regarding SQL-based data sources, Windward allows you to use either your current active directory session (if you are using a Microsoft SQL server) or provide a database authenticated username and password combination. The file-based connections work exactly as our file based security is described in the previous section.

When it comes to web-based and big data protocols, it gets a bit more involved as these tend to be implemented as end point services rather than a regular database authentication. OData, XML and JSON streams in particular provides some additional challenges as authentication is typical done before a connection is established and then a serialized token is provided for all communication afterwards.

Windward has recently upgraded its connectivity for these data sources to allow extra protocols to be implemented in each. Some of the protocols that Windward has added are Kerberos, RADIUS, CRAM-MD5, CHAP (MSCHAP), EAP, PAP, PEAP and PANA. These protocols can be initialed once during the initial connection and they can also be customized to allows users to extend them for transactional-based authentication by inserting custom tokens, specifically for the case of using OAUTH with OData.

Windward has also added multi-tenancy authentication for multiple-user sessions authenticating to a single end point resource.

In addition, Windward offers generic ODBC/JDBC and OleDB connections. For these connections, you often have to build the connection string yourself. We refer our clients to a very helpful website, ConnectionStrings.com, in order to assist them in gathering the proper server, communications port, database name, username and password to build the connection string for a successful connection.

A connection string will also need to be used in order to write the code to connect the Windward Engine (both .NET or Java) to your datasource. This can be easily generated in AutoTag by using our Generate Code utility in order to build a connection string from your already working connection in AutoTag.

In summary, Windward can easily integrate with your existing security structure, allowing for easier maintenance. You can start working with Windward without additional security setup. Know more about the best SaaS security practices in our latest blog.

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Tags Start & End

Tags Can Start & End Anywhere

Appendix B

.NET code for multi-page image output

Appendix A

Java code for multi-page image output

Data Bin Search

The Data Bin can now be searched to find a table, column, node or other piece of data without scrolling through it all.

Shrink to Fit

This will shrink the contents of a cell until it fits the defined cell size.

Time Zone Conversion

A new Windward macro has been added to help with converting dates and times from UTC time to the local time zone.

Image Output Format

New image output formats added.

PostScript Output Format

PostScript, commonly used with printers and printing companies, has been added as an additional output format.

New and Improved Datasets (Designer, Java Engine, .NET Engine)

Datasets have been re-written from scratch to be more powerful and easier to use.

Stored Procedure Wizard (Designer)

This works for all tag types that are connected to a SQL-based data source (Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle, MySQL, or DB2).

Boolean Conditional Wizard (Designer)

Before, conditional statements could only be written manually. Now they can also be built using our intuitive Wizard interface.

Reorganized Ribbon

The ribbon menus have been re-organized and consolidated to improve the report design workflow.

XPath 2.0 as Data Source

Adds various capabilities such as inequalities,descending sort, joins, and other functions.

SQL Select Debugger

SQL Select  Debugger

  • The look and feel was improved
  • Stored Procedure Wizard
  • Improved Exceptions pane

Tag Editor/Tag Selector

Added a Query tab as a field for typing or pasting in a select statement

  • Color Coding of Keywords
  • TypeAhead
  • Evaluate is now "Preview"

Rename a Datasource

All tags using that Data source will be automatically updated with that name.

Connecting to a Data Source

New single interface to replace 2 separate dialog boxes

Tag Tree

Displays of all the tags in the template, structured as they are placed in the template. This provides a simple & intuitive way to see the structure of your template. Also provides the capability to go to any tag and/or see the properties of any tag.

Added Javelin into the RESTful Engine

Support for Google Application Engine Integration

The ability to integrate the Windward Engine into Google’s cloud computing platform for developing and hosting web applications dubbed Google Applications Engine (GAE).

Additional Refinement for HTML Output

  • Improved indentation for ordered and unordered lists
  • Better handling of template header and footer images
  • Better handling for background images and colors

Redesigned PDF Output Support

This new  integration will allow for processing of complex scripts and bi-directional  text such as Arabic.  Your PDF output  will be much tighter and more closely match your template, and we’ll be able  to respond rapidly to PDF requests and fixes.

PowerPoint Support

Includes support for new ForEach and slide break handling, table header row repeat across slide breaks, and native Microsoft support for charts and images.

Tags are Color Coded

Tags are color coded in the template by type, making it easy to visually identify them.

Increased Performance

Version 13’s core code has been reworked and optimized to offer a reduced memory footprint, faster PDF generation and full documentation of supported features and limitations in the specifications for DOCX, XLSX and PPTX.

Advanced Image Properties

Documents can include advanced Word image properties such as shadows, borders, and styles.

Improved HTML Output

Windward has updated HTML output to reflect changing HTML standards.

Version 13 New Data Sources

Windward now works with a slew of new datasources: MongoDB, JSON, Cassandra, OData, Salesforce.com

Generate Code

The Generate Code tool in the designer allows you to open an existing template and, with a click of a button, automatically create a window with the code needed to run your current template with all data sources and variables. Simply copy this code and paste into your application's code in the appropriate place. You now have Windward integrated into your application.

You only need to do this once. You do not do this for each template. Instead, where it has explicit files for the template and output, change that to parameters you pass to this code. Same for the parameters passed to Windward. This example uses explicit values to show you what to substitute in where.

Pivot Tables Adjusted in Output

Any pivot tables in an XLSX template are carried over to the XLSX output. The ranges in the pivot ranges are adjusted to match the generated output. So your final XLSX will have pivot tables set as expected in the generated file.

This makes creating an XLSX workbook with pivot tables trivial.

Imported Template Can be Set to Match the Parent Styles

In an imported sub-template, if its properties for a style (ex. Normal) differ from the parent template's properties for the style, the use in the sub-template can be set to either use the properties in the sub-template, or the properties in the parent.

You set to retain when you don't want the child template's styling to change when imported. You set to use the parent when you want the styling of the imported template to match the styling in the parent.

Any explicit styling is always retained. This only impacts styling set by styles.

Tags can be Placed in Text Boxes

Tags can be placed in text boxes. Including linked text boxes. This gives you the ability to set the text in a textbox from your data.

Tags can be Placed in Shapes & Smart Art

Tags can be placed in shapes & smart art. This gives you the ability to set the text in a shape from your data.

HTML Output Supports Embedded Images

When generating HTML output, the engine can either write bitmaps as distinct files the generate HTML references, or it can embed the images in the HTML providing a single file for the output.

Footnotes & Endnotes can Have Tags

You can place tags in pretty much any part of a template, including in footnotes & endnotes.

Document Locking Supported in DOCX & XLSX

Any parts of a DOCX or XLSX (PowerPoint does not support this) file that are locked in the template, will be locked the same in the output.

Specify Font Substitution

If a font used in the template does not exist on the server generating a report, the font to substitute can be specified.
In addition, if a glyph to be rendered does not exist in the font specified, you can specify the replacement font. This can be set distinctly for European, Bi-Directional, and Far East fonts.

Process Multiple Datasources Simultaneously

If you need this - it's essential. And if you don't need it, it's irrelevant.

Windward enables you to build a document by applying multiple datasources to the template simultaneously. When Windward is merging the data into a template, it processes the template by handling each tag in order, and each tag pulls from different datasources. (As opposed to processing all of one datasource, then processing the next.)

This allows the select tag to use data from another datasource in its select. For example, if you are pulling customer information from one data source, you can then pull data from the sales datasource using the customer ID of the customer presently processing to pull the sales information for that customer. If you're interested in patching together your data from multiple datasources, read this post on our blog.

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