Saturday, 8 October 2016

First foray into the lair of the Mule...

Around a year ago I started a new job in the motor insurance industry, with a company that is part of the Lloyds Insurance syndicate who only do business through insurance brokers. These brokers send in details of new business, mid-term adjustmment, renewals & cancellations, claims.  Then this is complicated further by us providing breakdown cover too.

Now, you might think that this doesn't sound too complicated, give them a schema and ask them to send files to match that schema, or provide them with an API that they can hook into... nope!


The company is trying to put a schema in place for submission of data, but it's not quite there yet, we receive all-sorts of formats CSV, tab delimited files, XML, XSL, XSLX & what we call EDI (really it is closer to Tradacoms).  Not only do we get a variety of types of files, those files themselves don't necessarily follow the same schema, some of the EDI files contain CRLF characters, others don't for example.

The point is, we receive disparate data which we need to reformat into something coherent to our internal systems and route through to the correct endpoint, enter the Mule (couldn't find a decent image of a kung fu mule to put here).

Mulesoft provide a Java based platform that allows us to collect all this disparate data from our multiple sources, translate it into a single format, in this case XML messages, then pass them through to the correct endpoint i.e. the correct ActiveMQ JMS queues.

Anyway, now you know the back story, this is where I come in... the bulk of my experience before this was on the Microsoft stack, .Net development, so my knowledge of Java was fairly low, so I did have a few apprehensions about working with Mule ESB.

The first thing I did was download Anypoint studio (their IDE) and watch a few YouTube videos, there are loads out there, but Gary Liu has a few simple ones to follow on his channel. Then I noticed through the Mulesoft site, that they have some free self-study courses through which you can become a certified Mulesoft developer, so I thought why not.

The coursework was easy to follow & well laid out & it didn't take long to lay to rest my initial concerns about me not being a Java developer, I did pick up some Java along the way & now I am a bit more confident using the language, the courses give you a lot of experience with their IDE and various connectors & I actually started to become rather impressed with the things I could do with relative ease & very little coding.

So, TLDR: I am a Mule ESB convert, still a lot more experienced as a .Net developer, but also an enthusiastic certified Mulesoft developer always looking for ways to automate & speed things up things using the ESB. I am the proud owner of 2 Mulesoft t-shirts, a notepad, a Max the mule squishy and a Mulesoft sticker on my laptop & am looking forward to the Mulesoft summit in London on the 19th of October.

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