Monday, August 17, 2009

SharePoint As An Automation Dashboard

We’ve been doing some heavy experimenting lately, exploiting SharePoint (specifically WSS 3.0) as a dashboard tool for DeltaV. And while we’re messing around with some 3rd party tools specifically developed for accessing real-time data, I also wanted to see what we could do using the out-of-the-box web parts.

SharePoint is SQL based, so it’s SQL aware, almost SQL friendly. And since DeltaV has lots of stuff stored away in SQL (batch data, Syncade data, alarms and events data), this seemed like a good place to start.

First thing though, you’ve got to have Microsoft Office SharePoint Designer. The good news, it’s now free from Microsoft (Bill Gates must have been feeling especially generous one day). Click here to follow the link to the download site. You’ll want to get a good book on Designer and SharePoint (I’m still looking for one).

The specific tool we’ve been experimenting with is the data view web part. So to get a summary of orders from Syncade, you create a data source into the DMI_EBR database, looking at the vOrders view:

Note how sorting and filtering are possible right within creating the data source. You can then check to make sure you’ve set everything up right by looking at the data:

Then it’s just a matter of dropping the data source on a SharePoint web page. You can even link one data view web part to another. For example, selecting a particular Syncade order in the upper web part populates the lower web part of all the work instructions executed during the order:

Is it really just that easy? No way – you’ll need to spend a lot of time with this, but the benefits are huge. Next post I’ll talk about other techniques for unlocking the hidden value of your data.

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