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REST Assured: Your System Will Interface with Master Terminal!

By: / Wed Nov 11 15:13:29 GMT 2020

Last year, we reviewed the API strategy for Master Terminal and now we are part of the Navis family. We are excited to be able to extend this even further by becoming part of the Navis Smart Ecosystem!

With the constantly evolving landscape of terminal operating systems and their role within wider supply chain management, along with the growing expectations of data visibility and transfer, it is important that any API offering supports easy and cost-effective integration with third-party systems as well as excellent performance at scale.

The increase in demand for agile application development — providing applications which can be built quickly to explore new ideas, ways of working and growth opportunities — paves the way for an integration strategy that provides clear, concise APIs that require little system knowledge, have a low maintenance burden, are easily extendable and simple to interact with.

EDI continues to be a staple of the logistics industry and Master Terminal’s existing capabilities in this area are an important aspect of the TOS solution. As well as FTP and SFTP drop and upload support, Master Terminal supports EDI data transfer via a SOAP web service. This mechanism works well for this type of data transfer and is already a standalone web service endpoint that does not require frequent definition updates, and as such requires little support beyond the initial integration development. Between its support for standard EDIFACT formats, and Master Terminal’s ability to process customer-defined EDI formats, this is still the go-to for file-based data transfer.

Master Terminal already has an extensive User Interface SOAP web service, which will continue to be supported and used by both Master Terminal applications and third parties for interacting with Master Terminal. However, in the future new integrations will be supported by REST web services.

The Master Terminal REST API suite is designed with the single responsibility principle at its heart; specific interfaces are responsible for single functions, producing loosely-coupled modular systems with scope for extension without impacting existing services. This reduces the maintenance burden and provides an uninterrupted API service for third parties, removing barriers to upgrade.

The Master Terminal REST API suite supports both JSON and XML data output enabling easy integration. In keeping with the separation of concerns principle, only the object data relating to a specific interface is transferred. This reduces the size of data transmitted as well as providing a clear and concise interface. Whereas SOAP web service data objects are tightly coupled to the Master Terminal implementation, this is decoupled in the REST APIs, providing a user-friendly interface that requires less system knowledge to integrate.

With Master Terminal, Port operators have the flexibility to choose the third-party applications that work best for their business, while still being able to easily integrate these systems with their TOS. 

The Master Terminal REST API suite is getting built out as needs arise, but already the Port Systems API, designed for use by systems or applications included within the wider Port Ecosystem, is being used to great effect for a customer with a bespoke application which uses the API to complete Gate operations within Master Terminal. This automatically creates the required road jobs, removing the need for a manual process enabling the terminal to focus on other areas of quality customer service.

Providing easy to use APIs supports Master Terminal customers in building third party applications specific to their unique workflows and handling procedures that seamlessly integrate in real-time to their TOS system, maintaining Master Terminal as the central information source while providing flexibility to our customers.

We are currently working with one of Master Terminal’s customers who are developing a Covid friendly check-in web app so drivers can complete their Security check-in process online once they get close to the terminal, reducing the face to face contact required when they arrive.  To enable this, a Security Check-in will be added to the Port Systems API to perform the security gate action.

The Master Terminal REST API suite will include generic interfaces for commonly required functions, and with monthly upgrades, all of our customers have the opportunity to utilize these as new functions are added.

If a customer-specific interface is needed, this can be developed with little overhead that simply extends the generic interfaces.

We have another project underway integrating with a TMS system. To provide a seamless system solution, Master Terminal is both consuming a REST API provided by the TMS as well as providing an API to synchronize data. Once this is in the Master Terminal Product, there are opportunities for our other terminals who are also using this TMS to leverage these integrations for their purposes.

As well as the Port Systems API, we also have an API designed for applications used within the terminal. This Handheld API provides calls for completing single functions within a TOS such as moving cargo, adding Tasks, updating Grades and Marks. This is being used by one of our customers for a bespoke application that operates within the terminal but has a very unique workflow and uses data from multiple systems.

In addition to all of this, Master Terminal is well on its way to integrating with Navis Smart!

We are currently putting the finishing touches on the Navis Reefer API for Master Terminal which means the Native Reefer App can be used with Master Terminal systems and we expect this to be out December 2020.

The team here has also been busy implementing a producer so that Master Terminal data can get pushed through to Ops View. We already have the Waterside Container Dataset populated so Vessel Target Reports can now be used with Master Terminal data. Road and Yard Datasets will be coming to a Master Terminal Ops View early next year.

And then there is the Navis Smart Platform (NSP) specifically designed to alleviate any performance concerns when retrieving high volumes of data from queries that are particularly complex, or a particularly high number of requests for data from multiple applications. Master Terminal will, in the future, also push its data to the Navis Smart Platform, providing customers with a consistent, TOS agnostic interface which will also support aggregation of data from multiple TOS instances regardless of the particular product.

Integration of multiple systems from both a data and workflow perspective is growing in importance, with different flavors of integration suiting different endeavors, but between Master Terminal and the Navis Smart suite, we have a plan to cater to all of it.

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