How to gain insights from any data source with plugins

Today, we have access to data in so many places. Databases, local files, but it doesn’t end there. What about the rise of thousands of online services? Think of your CRM, accounting software, social media accounts, and so on. They contain tons of interesting data inside the application itself. But how to combine all these fragmented data into a single source? Meet your savior: Cumul.io plugins!

Why are plugins useful?

Most BI tools offer an easy connection to a number of databases and online services like Salesforce, Google Analytics, SQL Server,… However, you could be using an online service that isn’t available by default in any existing BI tool. This is where Cumul.io plugins step in!

Plugins offer a number of benefits to connect easily to new data sources:

  1. Build integrations to any data source. Even if you’re using a very niche online service or a custom database, you’ll be able to connect to it with a plugin.
  2. Quick & easy to build. We made plugins as easy as possible to build. Typically, you’ll need less than 100 lines of code in total. After set-up, you’ll be able to connect whenever, wherever, without any further coding.
  3. Build as many plugins as you like. Connect to 1 data source? 20 data sources? You can build a plugin for each single one of them. Keep that data richness growing!

How do plugins work?

So first, what is a plugin? It’s a flexible ‘data adapter’ between Cumul.io on the one hand, and the data source of your choice on the other hand. It’s an easy way to let data flow from 1 source into Cumul.io in real-time, without wasting hours on custom development, but with great data security.

And now, how to connect to a source? You’ll only need some help from a developer to build the plugin. But thanks to the flexible plugin structure and documentation, this is very easy to build in less than 100 lines of code. Once you’ve built the plugin, you can connect to the data source just like any other default one in Cumul.io. Data will always be up-to-date.

Citybik.es: an example plugin

To give you a better idea of how plugins work, we’ve created an example plugin with Citybik.es. This open data initiative gathers data of bike sharing systems worldwide. Data is available through a public API, to which we connect through a Cumul.io plugin.

Easily edit a plugin in Cumul.io

The reference code for the Citybik.es plugin is available on GitHub, together with a couple of other reference implementations. Check it out to get started with your own plugin, together with our API documentation. After writing the code for the plugin, you can edit the settings to your needs when registering the plugin in Cumul.io:

  • Public or private plugin?
    Citybikes is publically available (go look for it in your account!) since the data is useful to anyone. However, the general settings in Cumul.io will publish your plugin privately, for internal use only. Easily switch between options.
  • Does the user need to authenticate to access the data source? Choose between the following:
    1. No authentication (for open data such as Citybik.es)
    2. Key/token (enter credentials to connect to your account)
    3. OAuth2 (for web services: delegate access to your account on a 3rd party service)
  • Name, description, thumbnail,…

Data privacy & authentication is secured as you wish. Additionally, no data will be stored in Cumul.io when using the plugin structure. It will only work as a means to let the data flow through.

Citybikes plugin in Cumul.io

Connect to Citybik.es just like you would connect to Teamleader or Google Analytics. Pick a city, and start visualizing the data! Get inspired to build your own data plugin!

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