Speaking the language of business intelligence with an Australian accent

Sunday, June 24, 2007

PPS M&A - Dashboard Designer Sandbox

One of the things that makes BSM development a little tedious at times is the need to be constantly connected to a Windows Server box with the appropriate BSM web service and SharePoint stuff configured. Bottom line is you can’t build out and test a BSM workspace in a disconnected environment. Unless you run Windows Server 2003 (and SharePoint) on your laptop you’re pretty much stuck with having to find an appropriate server on the network, or work on a virtual image of some sort. This can be a real pain when you need to knock up a quick proof-of-concept or just develop stuff off-line.

PPS M&A changes all that. A fully operational, sandboxed M&A environment can now be set up on an XP or Vista machine. When setting it up the Monitoring Server Configuration Manager figures out that it’s not executing on a Windows Server machine and also sees that SharePoint is not installed. It then goes about setting up all the M&A bits (minus the SharePoint stuff) that are required to:

  • Create workspaces with Dashboard Designer (while connected to data sources)
  • Publish to a local Monitoring web service and have those definitions stored in a local SQL database
  • Connect to data sources (both local or external)
  • Preview and test dashboards using a local ASP.NET preview site

The only thing you can’t do locally (obviously) is export to SharePoint. But that functionality is not really required when you have live Scorecard and Report preview in Dashboard Designer and your own private ASP.NET preview site for dashboards.

I never actually tried loading this on my laptop with CTP2 but I can definitely say that it works a treat with CTP3. Personally this is welcome functionality for me and makes two proof-of-concept projects I am currently working on much simpler. As long as I have the data sources locally I can build out and test a complete dashboard solution on my laptop in isolation. I’ll then get out to the client, connect to their monitoring server and publish the workspace contents. Bloody brilliant!

This kind of functionality now means that anyone can set up a M&A environment on their laptops and play around with the technology with very minimal fuss and effort.

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