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How to use Analytics Canvas Server Automation

Analytics Canvas On-Premise tools include Desktop and Server applications that run on the Windows operating system. Using the same installer, the Server is a licensing add-on that is available to all users of Analytics Canvas Desktop.  

Analytics Canvas Server Automation is the preferred tool for those who want to automate their data tasks within their own environments, due to GDPR compliance, internal policy, or due to the features that the Server application enables. 

Server enables the scheduling of Canvas files to run without manual touch, and enables parameters to be included in batch runs from the command line. 

This article will focus on simply creating and scheduling an automation task.

Preparing your workflows for Server Automation

With Server Automation, the task is run on the licensed machine that is hosted within your workplace or environment.  

This means that you will load your Canvas file, together with a Passwords file containing your credentials, and any reference files that are needed by the .ACC file, to the Server where it will run locally on that machine.  

The servers are not synced with or accessible by your local machine - you are placing your files onto the servers where they will run. As such, your local directory is not accessible, nor can data be written back to your desktop directly (if you are using a separate machine as your server).  Instead, you must connect to your data sources through remote channels, such as APIs to file sharing services, and to remotely available databases that can be reached by the Server (Windows machine) that you are using.  

  • Inputs from databases may use a username and password or NT Login, if available.
  • Any reference files, such as Excel templates or static CSV files, must be included as part of the package and must be manually updated if they change.  Files on the server will remain static. 
  • Output files, such as Text, CSV, Excel,Tableau Data Extracts (TDE), or Tableau Hyper files, must be connected to one of the 4 APIs for file delivery:  Amazon S3, Google Cloud Storage, Dropbox, or Google Drive.  You may also write to a network drive behind your firewall, if your network supports it. 
  • Tableau users have the option of having their files uploaded directly to Tableau Online or Tableau Server.

Creating a Canvas Server Automation Package

Using the Automation Wizard, a batch file will be generated for you.  More advanced users can modify the batch file to enable date parameters, input and output parameters, etc.  Refer to the Command Line Reference Guide for more details. 

It is recommended that you put all the .ACC files that you want to run together, and any data files they need into a single folder on the server.

To begin, click the Server Automation button on the main Canvas toolbar, or click Automation > Server Automation wizard from the main menu.

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Next click the "Add Canvas" button and add one or more Canvas files to the workflow.  Drag them into the order you with them to run. 

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The next step is to enter your credentials. Shown below is the credential manager for Cloud Automation - a similar screen appears for Server Automation.  Once you have tested your credentials, click next. 

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You will be asked about generating a password file.  By default, the passwords file is obfuscated and only readable by Analytics Canvas.  If you need to debug, deselect the 'Hide Passwords' button. 

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Next you will define the batch file functionality.  

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Configuring email notifications by clicking the 'Configure Email Server' options.  Note that your server must be able to transmit email using the SMTP server and the required ports as defined by your email provider and local environment manager. 

Under the Error Handling and Logging tab, you can choose whether to run all canvases even if a canvas fails, or to stop the batch immediately if one canvas fails.  You would stop the batch immediately if there is a dependency in the files that are running together in the batch. 

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Click Save and Finish to generate a batch file. You can then use Windows Scheduler, Visual Cron, or any other tool on your local machine that will schedule tasks. 

For a tutorial on using Windows Scheduler, refer to this PDF document.

Command Line Operation

Using Server Automation, advanced techniques are available.  You can:

  • Run large data tasks in batches
  • Use Canvas files as templates by using Parameters (variables) 
  • Log the details of each run to a database
Review the Command Line Operation Guide here

Troubleshooting and Support

If you run into any issues with Server Automation, contact support@analyticscanvas.com

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