What is NI DataFinder Server Edition

Publish Date: Jul 07, 2017 | 1 Ratings | 3.00 out of 5 | Print

Overview

NI DataFinder Server Edition (DFSE) is a centralized data management software which allows scientists and engineers collaborating in companies and workgroups to find and retrieve information based on their data files. DataFinder works out-of-the-box by indexing data files in specified folders on computers or on a network without extended IT support or database specific knowledge. The data index builds, maintains and scales automatically as your test files change.

Table of Contents

  1. How do I Know if DataFinder Server Edition is Right For Me?
  2. File-Based Data Indexing
  3. Find and Retrieve Only the Data You Want to Analyze
  4. Managing and Maintaining the Index
  5. ASAM ODS Server
  6. DataFinder Federation
  7. DataFinder Clients

1. How do I Know if DataFinder Server Edition is Right For Me?

You can use DFSE to index any kind of measurement data stored in files and make it available for further data mining requests. Consider investigating a solution based of DFSE if you need to share your data between the members of your group or across your organization. DataFinder scales from small groups using only a few concurrent connections up to organizations, which bundle several DataFinder servers to a federation.

DataFinder hides away the complexity of the individual tasks and allows you to define these tasks with a few simple clicks. You do not need to become a database expert to optimize your indexed data for searching or work intensively with IT to set up your flexible data management solution. DataFinder focuses on ease-of-use and integration into your existing tool chain. Some of the benefits of using DFSE are outlined below.

 

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2. File-Based Data Indexing

DataFinder is designed to index data files in specified folders on computers or on a network.  You specify the folders by defining a search area pointing to the location of the data. DataFinder can handle an unlimited number of search areas. The data files stored within these search areas are indexed automatically on file changes or triggered by a software program, process or at a scheduled indexing time.

The individual data files get indexed with the help of a DataPlugin . A DataPlugin scans the content of a data file and maps it to the TDM data model. The TDM model defines a three tired hierarchy of a single root and an arbitrary number of groups and channels. Each of those objects can carry a list of custom properties.

DataFinder indexes the meta data of all files according to the TDM data model into a centralized index and allows you to search and find the information you are looking for using client software.

 

Figure 1.  DataPlugins can map any data file to the TDM data model and then creates a relational database based off the metadata. You can then use clients to search through the data. 

 

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3. Find and Retrieve Only the Data You Want to Analyze

After the data is indexed, DataFinder helps you find the information you are looking for by providing full-text and parametric search options.

The full-text search allows you to combine textual search terms to describe the information you are looking for. Use the full-text search when you need to perform basic queries to find the location of the data on your computer or on the network. However, keep in mind that the full-text search is unspecific regarding the place the information is stored within the data file; for instance if you are searching for “Watt” you may receive files containing channels measured in the physical unit or files measured by a test engineer with “Watt” being the last name.

Use the advanced search if you need to be more specific to describe the information you are looking for. In the advanced search you can define one or more search terms such as Operator_LastName = “Watt” or Unit = “Watt”. You can also create conditional queries to find when certain channels exceed a certain threshold such as Maximum > 50 and return data at the file, group or channel levels.

Figure 2. Using client software, such as DIAdem, the results of a parametric query that returns channels of data. 

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4. Managing and Maintaining the Index

You can interactively set up a DataFinder server using DataFinder Manager. With the DataFinder Manager you can define the search areas for your data files, the indexing schedule, or limit the access to certain users among other things.

After you have setup your DataFinder server, DataFinder keeps the content of the index up-to-date by indexing your data files either automatically on file changes, triggered by a software application or by a scheduled indexing task.

To preserve DataFinder’s responsiveness over time, the index has to be defragmented on a regular basis. This repetitive defragmentation task is activated for every DataFinder server you create and can be configured according to your individual needs.

You can restrict the access to your DataFinder server to certain users and groups. The restriction is either per DataFinder or per search area. You can make use of users and groups already defined by your company’s Active Directory/LDAP.

 

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5. ASAM ODS Server

ASAM  ODS stands for “Association for the Standardization of Automation and Measuring Systems” and ODS for “Open Data Services”. The ASAM ODS standard was created to simplify the universal interpretation of data acquired from testing, evaluation, and simulation applications. The popularity of the standard today can be attributed to the foundation it provides as a stable yet adaptable and extensible model applicable to a wide array of test and measurement applications with varying requirements.

 

ASAM ODS defines the storage of the data, for instance, in an Oracle or mixed-mode server and a Corba-based API for data access. The major benefit is the specification of a so-called base data model which adds semantic (meta-) information to the data. The benefit for using DFSE is that you don’t need to have expert knowledge in setting up or maintaining an ASAM server or creating your custom data models. All it takes is 12 steps to set up your own ASAM server, and working through a configuration based window to set up your custom data model after your data has been indexed. There is no new technology to learn because the DataFinder still works in the same exact way. You notify DataFinder where the data is located and allow it to index and use DataPlugins to map files to the TDM model. In addition to using DIAdem and LabVIEW as clients, you can use any ASAM ODS client to connect to the DataFinder ASAM ODS server.

 

Because the foundation of ASAM ODS is to create an extensible data model, you can change the view of the data so that it makes the most sense to you. Use metadata categories that have already been indexed to set up your new data views. For instance, if you have engine test data, you may be interested in seeing the location of the tests followed by the specific engine data. Or you may want to know who took the test and what engine types they tested. In the screenshot below you have the exact same data set shown with two different data models so that you can make decisions faster.

Figure 3 Reorganize the view of your data so that you can extract value faster. 

 

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6. DataFinder Federation

Consider you need to slice and dice your data over several DataFinder servers to solve your Big Analog DataTM problem or consider the data of your organization is spread over different regional locations. With DataFinder Server Edition 2014, you now have the option to create a federation of DataFinder servers, regardless of their locations. Sending a query to the DataFinder federation server will aggregate the results from all member servers giving you detailed insight into your data.

You can have up to 100 member servers connected to a single federation and you use a configuration-based dialog box to set up the federation hierarchy. The DataFinder federation makes the data available through the ASAM ODS Corba Interface which means that you can define a custom hierarchy on top of the overall indexed data to create a different navigation experience as explained previously.

Figure 4 With DataFinder federation, you can connect DataFinder servers across various locations. 

 

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7. DataFinder Clients

To extract value from the large amounts of data that you collect, you need client software.

To set up client software you need to export a client configuration of your DataFinder server, copy it to the client computer and double-click on it. Now you have now registered the information needed to connect to that specific DataFinder server, so that clients can address that server by its given name.

NI recommends that you use either NI DIAdem or LabVIEW with the DataFinder Toolkit to act as your client software to mine and analyze the indexed data. DIAdem provides an interactive user interface to browse the indexed data, interactively define search expressions and list the search results. You can also use a programmatic API in DIAdem of the LabVIEW DataFinder Toolkit that will allow you to automate your process or create a tailored interactive user interface.

If you use DataFinder as an ASAM ODS server or a DataFinder federation, allows not only DIAdem or the DataFinder Toolkit, but any ASAM ODS savvy software to connect to a DataFinder server.

 

Additional Resources

Learn more about DataFinder Server Edition

Download a 30 day evaluation of DFSE

Learn about Clients for DFSE

                  NI DIAdem

                  NI LabVIEW DataFinder Toolkit

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