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We are trying to setup an external app (as a footer item) in Service Console. Upon clicking of this, the external app would be opened in a new window and SFDC would pass the member ID and do a search and render the member details page. I've seen where they have used canvas to embed an external app, but didn't find anything where I can pass data from SFDC and make the external app do an action using the passed in data and render results which is what we'd like to do.

I'm new to Canvas integration and would appreciate your guidance in this regards.

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I suspect you are looking for the canvas app parameters. See What's the parameters attribute in apex:canvasApp used for?

The target app will receive a signed request that should include the CanvasRequest. It will include the environment parameters with the details from the parameters attribute.

The external app can then perform whatever actions are required.

{
    "context":
    {
        "application": 
        {
            "applicationId":"06Px000000003ed", 
            /* ... */
        },
        "user":
        {
            /* ... */
        }, 
        "environment": 
        { 
            "parameters":
            {
                "complex":
                {
                    "key1":"value1",
                    "key2":"value2"
                },
                "integer":10,
                "simple":"This is a simple string.",
                "boolean":true
            },
            "dimensions": 
            { 
              /* ... */
            }
        }
    }
}

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