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What are you doing?

July 12, 2009

To start this off, thought I’d begin with answering the above question that you get posed every time you log into Twitter, and give you a run down on my current project.

In house we use BMC Service Desk Express for incident tracking, service level management and asset management. SDE is essentially a database-oriented application with a browser based user interface. Our installation has a SQL backend, but some use Oracle.

What’s really great about SDE is it’s ability to integrate with other applications via the inbuilt Integration Engine. The Integration Engine has some nice out of the box web services to help achieve this, and a wizard-like interface for customising your own web services. The plan is to use these web services to allow external clients to view and update their current incidents, as well as create new incidents, and to deliver this via a Microsoft Office Sharepoint front end.

Creating the webservice to select, insert or update the data is as easy as:

  1. select your web server
  2. create the required parameters (in the case of viewing incidents, this will be ClientID)
  3. choose the database fields from SDE you want the web service to return
  4. specify the required security settings
  5. deploy the webservice with a single click

You can then validate the webservice is working correctly by clicking the validate button then entering your parameters. What you will be presented with are the query results, in XML format. This is where Sharepoint, with it’s lovely out-of-the-box web parts, comes in. Using MS Office Sharepoint Designer, with another wizard-like interface, you can connect to your shiny new webservice and insert the results into an aspx page as a data view, which renders it so that a human can read it.

I have created a bunch of webservices that connect to my data in SDE, which is in a kind of tree-like structure. Starting at the top of the tree, you can drill down through the data (across different pages), getting more detail as you go. In order to do this, the web parts (i.e. the data views created from my web service connections) on each page are connected together, passing parameters along as you go from page to page. Connecting the web parts together was relatively straightforward – did I mention how great Sharepoint Designer 2007 is with all it’s wizardy goodness?

So what I have at this point is set of pages, in a Sharepoint site, where clients will be able to view their current incidents. It is very preliminary, but it illustrates what can be achieved when you get two powerful platforms talking to each other. I have a wee way to go yet, but I am having a lot of fun learning about Sharepoint (this is my first time touching it) and enjoying the challenges as I go.

Try fitting that into 140 characters…

So what are you doing? I’d love to find out, so send me a Tweet, or leave a comment below – and remember, geek is good!

One Comment leave one →
  1. drboo permalink
    July 13, 2009 12:34 am

    True geekness indeed!

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