Introduction to Channels

What is a Channel?

Iguana manages the transfer and transformation of incoming and outgoing data using something called “Channels”. Channels act like pipelines that direct the flow of your data from one location to another.

Channels are created by combining “components”. Similar to the two ends of a pipe, most channels have a Source and a Destination component. The Source component pulls data into the channel and the Destination component pushes data out of the channel.

Imagine that, inside the pipe, there are valves and filters that can control and change the flow of information as it passes through. Well, channels work the same way! The “Filter” component executes scripts to change the data as it passes through the channel. Using a filter, you can impose instructions that will result in things like parsing, filtering, transformations and translations.

Did you know that the source and destination components can also do some of the heavy lifting? If you assign either the source or the destination as a “Translator” component, you can impose instructions upon them as well. These scripts can execute changes related to where your data is coming from or where your data is going. This can ease some of the burden on the Filter component, and is a great way to streamline data processing into smaller, more manageable chunks.

For More Information

Adding a New Channel [top]

To add a new channel:

  1. Click the Add Channel button found in the bottom right-hand corner of the Dashboard:
  2. Pick the Source and Destination components and click Start Configuring alternatively you can Import a Channel:
    • It is important to choose the correct components as they cannot be changed after the Channel is created, see Choosing Channel Components (below:
      Note: If you do make a mistake it is very simple to delete and recreate the Channel
    • For processing HL7 messages use the default of LLP Listener Source and To Translator Destination
  3. Enter a Channel Name (you can change it later), and click Add Channel:

Choosing Channel Components [top]

You need to define where incoming messages are coming from, and where you want the channel to send them. For processing HL7 messages you would usually choose LLP Listener Source and To Translator Destination.

Use the following tables to help make the appropriate decision:

Recommended Components

Source Component Definition
LLP Listener Listens on the specified port for HL7 messages using the LLP protocol
From File For reading files and FTP operations
From HTTPS Receive input from a HTTP web service
From Channel Used for routing; receives input from other channel(s)
From Translator The most useful component; incredibly powerful when used with Lua and the API Reference Guide.
Destination Component Definition
LLP Client Sends out HL7 messages via sockets using the LLP protocol
To Translator The most useful component; incredibly powerful when used with Lua and the API Reference Guide
To File Output to files and FTP destinations
To Channel Used for routing; sends output to other channel(s)

Note: The From/To Translator components can use the built-in Lua io library for File operations and the net API for FTP. This is more flexible than using the From/To File components.

Legacy Components

We do not recommend using these for new projects. Use the alternative components that are recommended below:

Source Component Recommended Alternative
From Plugin Use web services instead of plugins
From Database Use the db module functions with a From Translator component
Destination Component Recommended Alternative
To Plugin Use web services instead of plugins
To Database Use the db module functions with a To Translator component
To HTTPS Use the net module functions with a To Translator component

Once you have selected your channel components, click the Configure Channel button. This provides access to all the channel configuration settings you will need to define before Iguana can finish creating your channel.

Configuring a Channel [top]

When you first add a new channel, the Configure New Channel screen appears:

This screen includes the following tabs:

  • The Channel tab, in which you supply the configuration details for the channel itself
  • The Source tab, in which you configure the source component of the channel
  • The Filter tab, in which you can specify a script or VMD file to filter incoming messages
  • The Destination tab, in which you configure the destination component of the channel
  • The Tables tab, in which you specify the database information. This section only appears if you’ve chosen From Database as the source component or To Database as the destination component

Note: The exact contents of the Configure Channel screen and each of its tabs depend on the source and destination components that you selected when you first created your channel.

To configure basic channel details:

  1. If it is not already displayed, click the Channel tab to access basic channel details.
  2. In the Channel name field, type the channel name. This is the name that will identify the channel on the dashboard and in the logs.
  3. In the Description field, you can type a brief description of this channel. This description can include information such as the client facility, purpose, organization name, site name or CRM number.
  4. Select the Start automatically check box if you want this channel to be started when the Iguana service is started. If you have previously created a channel, the Start automatically check box will be selected by default if it was selected in the previous channel definition. Start automatically will be unselected by default if it was unselected in the previous channel definition.
  5. From the Logging level list box, select the logging level for this channel:
    Logging level Log Messages Displayed
    Normal Messages, acknowledgement messages, informational log messages and errors
    Errors only Errors only
    Debug Everything that the Normal logging level displays, and Debug log messages. Debug log messages can be used to debug a specific problem with a channel.
  6. From the Groups list box, select one or more channel groups to which you want this channel to belong. As you select each channel group, it is displayed on the screen.

    Note: If you want to remove the channel from a channel group, locate the channel group on the screen and click Remove.

Once you have finished setting up your channel’s basic details, you can proceed with completing the other Configure New Channel tabs. For more information on these settings, see our comprehensive Channel Settings section.

Editing/Removing a Channel [top]

If you are a member of a role that has Edit permissions, you can edit or remove an existing channel.

Click the Dashboard tab to display the Dashboard, and ensure that the channel you wish to edit is not currently running:

Editing a Channel

  1. In the Channel Name column, click the name of the channel that you wish to edit:
  2. The Channel Configuration screen appears, click Edit Channel and edit each of the tabs as necessary:
  3. When you are done, click Save Changes to apply your changes to update the channel.

For more information about the contents of each tab, see our comprehensive Channel Settings section.

Removing a Channel

  1. In the Channel Name column, click the name of the channel that you wish to remove.
  2. Click the Remove Channel button in the Control Panel:
  3. At the confirmation dialog, click OK to complete the deletion.

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