Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Playing with PI Web Parts

I've spent some free time at work setting up a basic SharePoint 2010 Server in order to test the functionality of OSISoft's PI Web Parts .

This is my first experience with SharePoint and PI Web Parts, and I'm not very impressed up to now.

Here are my thoughts:

SharePoint is terribly slow

Sharepoint is unbelievably slow. Granted, I have a small VM, but I'm using the default configuration, no bells and whistles. Usability suffers from extreme sluggishness, and I wouldn't want to design pages in SharePoint full-time as my objective in life is to keep a shred of sanity. When I use Web 2.0 apps, I expect Web 2.0 speed. Not cgi-bin-like responsiveness.

Web Parts rely on SVG (and, soon, MS Silverlight)

The "interesting" graphical Web Parts rely on SVG to generate graphics, like the PI Trend Web Part pictured above. Using SVG is not a problem per se, as it is a lightweight format which gives very usable results -- the trend graphics are live, and you can hover over parts of the graphic to get more info dynamically.

However, Internet Explorer is notorious for not supporting SVG natively. Furthermore, there is no alternative to configure these web parts to make static image files... so if you have a locked-down desktop with IE8 (or, even worse, IE6) and have no SVG viewer, you're fucked. The only solution consists of installing an old viewer from Adobe that has not been updated since 2005, and has been unsupported since 2009. Unacceptable in an enterprise environment. Calling the Man to install such a viewer on my laptop would result in the Man saying "no" and laughing his way back to the bank.

What further exacerbates me is OSISoft's commitment to migrate to Silverlight in the future. Deploying Silverlight will be another complex task in a locked-down enterprise environment. Of course, Microsoft already knows how to deal with this: I think they can't bundle Sliverlight with Windows 7 due to antitrust issues, but they will find a way to attach it into the next version of MS Office. So when the Man will decide it's time to upgrade the desktops from Office 1981 to Office 2030, we might get Silverlight as a bonus and be able to see some PI Web Parts. Woo!

In a world where many intranet sites are hardwired to IE6, and nobody wants to risk updating anyone to IE8 (let alone IE9), SVG and Silverlight are critical points that need to be taken care of.


1 comment:

Rashid.A.V said...

Hi Oliver,

i am having a requirement of showing the OSI-Pi tag search web part within an page inside an web application. i could see whole alot of samples for this in sharepoint. Can we do the same in wep app too? can you share your thoughts to

your valuable time and comments are appreciated.

Invensys - Bangalore - India