It’s this week !!
It’s this week !!
PSC Labs was founded in 2015 to provide unbiased, vendor-agnostic technology insights. Our mission is to ensure client
delivery excellence and new solution offerings through the adoption of emerging technologies.
For more information check us out at https://labs.psclistens.com
PSC Labs undertook a wide-variety of projects in 2018. From Robot Process Automation to Event Driven Architecture seven projects were undertaken to improve our understanding of these technologies/capabilities.
The team looked into how Blockchain worked and then on a more practical level looked specifically into Ethereum and the ability to incorporate Smart Contracts into the chain. We looked at the services provided by various cloud vendors and found that at the time, the examples for implementations were on a very large scale.
Blockchain is not difficult to understand technically, but the broad questions about scalability, long term viability and adoption though are still quite open ended.
Custom Vision API
The team looked at the newly released Azure Cognitive Services Image process capabilities and built a custom app capable of recognizing every day images. The application built on top of a Xamarin iOS mobile app provides a user with the ability to take a number of pictures of an object, from different angles, and store them within the application.
The Azure Cognitive Services are used to generate a Machine Learning model which can then be downloaded back to the device. The application is then capable of using the camera to identify objects with a predicted level of accuracy.
|Grouping Models||Training The Model||Running Locally|
The investigation team successfully demonstrated the ability to build a real-world application around the Azure Cognitive Service.
The team investigated the IoT services available in Azure and AWS. To build on the previous work the Labs had done with GE’s Predix platform, these investigation teams were focused on using the available abstraction services from the cloud vendors and not on the low level device/data interaction.
We discovered that both platforms were very good at easily setting up the ability to handle data ingestion from devices. The ease of setup on the device to allow for secure authenticated transmission of data was simple and easy to understand in both cases.
The Azure platform service stood out however with their Azure IoT Suite and Remote Monitoring. Once the data ingestion was set up, the IoT Suite enabled us to create a monitoring dashboard and set controls for performance monitoring. The ability to configure limits for data and automate notifications based on those limits promise considerable potential.
The Azure IoT Suite highlighted how far IoT as a service has come in a short period of time and is a viable solution to any company seeking to set up and start to take advantage of the burgeoning IoT landscape.
The investigation team looked at the intriguing concept of a programmable CDN and the promise of being able to enhance website performance without having to change any of the code on the site directly. An example of this capability would be the adding of a watermark to an image. The Fly.io server would proxy in between the image server and programmatically add the watermark. The watermarked version of the image would then be cached for the next user, at the CDN closer to the user than the original image on the server.
The team found that the implementation of Fly.io as a developer was not complex and the examples provided were easy to set up and run. But overall the team found that this capability feels more like a solution waiting for a problem.
Event Driven Architecture
At the start of 2018, as part of their 10 technologies to watch Gartner declared “Event Driven Architectures” as something to pay attention to. The Labs team looked into Kafka specifically although there are others (Azure Event Hub being one) with this in mind. Kafka was originally a project created by LinkedIn to handle their massive data volume and was subsequently open sourced through the Apache foundation.
The team created a demo application which ingested data from an HR application managing people and their records. From the input of the data multiple complex processes were initiated and executed by the event driven architecture. The response of the application, even running locally was very impressive.
Robot Process Automation
While Robot Process Automation (RPA) is not a new technology, it’s coming to the forefront of business rapidly. With VC funding for major RPA vendors more prevalent (AutomationAnywhere, UIPath), it demonstrates the capacity for the market to absorb this new technology quickly.
RPA as an industry is all about the automation of repetitive mundane tasks, such as manual data entry into multiple systems. Many companies have long established manual business processes, mainly due to the cost to automate the process. RPA can help address this problem by accurately and repeatedly following the same steps a person would.
We looked at UIPath as a vendor for RPA and looked into the more advanced capabilities of the platform. We created an ability for a code check-in process within AzureDevOps, to trigger a build process chain and instruct the RPA robot to automate a UI test through a browser. If the robot found a failure it created a bug within AzureDevOps related to the failing test.
RPA is mature and already being used across many industries, there is significant opportunity for cost effective savings for companies to use RPA.
GraphQL is a technology created by Facebook in response to a problem they found themselves when facing a growth model based on a service-based architecture. As Facebook pages grew in complexity and functionality, the number of services being called increased and caused various performance issues. The PSC labs team set up to investigate whether or not GraphQL would be applicable to the projects we were planning to work on in the future.
The investigation team took an existing mobile application where the load time was in excess of 10 seconds and was able, using GraphQL, to reduce the load time of the page by over 50%. In a case where the user was on a mobile network with high latency the loading speed was increased by over 65%.
GraphQL has many advantages for a developer and project team when considering a services architecture, from the creation of a standard endpoint, to the reduction in network calls and speed of time to page load, it proved itself very valuable.
PSC Labs had another successful year investigating many broad technology innovations. As in previous years, some of the projects show great promise and we will be working on new iterations of them in 2019.
If you want to find out more about PSC Labs and/or have an interesting project you would like us to share with you please contact
firstname.lastname@example.org for more information
As always the NWCJS meetups will be held in the PSC Office in Schaumburg – everyone is welcome 🙂
Fixing Memory Problems in Single Page Apps
by Mike Labriola
This months meeting is Wednesday Jan 9th – 8am PST
You can sign up for the Office DEveloper community calls here – https://aka.ms/OfficeDevCalls
If you’d like to submit questions before the call, please use this form – https://aka.ms/officeaddinsform
Join the call here – https://aka.ms/officeaddinscall
During this PSC Tech Talk, Mark Roden gave a precursory run-through presentation for his SharePointFest Chicago 2018 presentation on the automation of build and deployment for SharePoint Framework widgets.
What is AzureDevops
Mark briefly walked through why AzureDevOps is PSC’s tool of choice for managing Agile projects. During an Agile project we build and deploy projects every two weeks so that progress can be demonstrated to clients and to ensure that the process is tested and working. Azure DevOps allows us to manage the whole process from:
Having a transparent, visible to a client, Quality control process generates trust. Not only in the development process but also in the process for deployment. PSC uses AzureDevOps capabilities to run unit tests and where appropriate load testing of projects in development. SharePoint Framework is no exception. We want to make sure that anything being developed does not break existing code or the user interface. Traditionally testing would be done at the end of the project. In an Agile project it is done every two weeks.
What is SharePoint Framework?
Traditionally SharePoint on premises allowed an organization to customize the functionality using a “trusted-code” model whereby they were in complete control of the code going into their environment. When SharePoint online came out though this model was not available. Because of the shared-tenant model and because of a lack of access to modify SharePoint in a similar manner than on prem, Microsoft create the front-end-based SharePoint Framework model.
Mark’s presentation used the Hello World example provided by Microsoft as a simple demonstration of how to build and deploy an SPFx widget locally. Mark then walked through the process of adding the widget manually to his SharePoint on line development tenant. Manually this process takes a couple of hours to set up and then about 10-15 minutes for every successful deployment.
Mark walked through the “build” and “deployment” processes provided by Microsoft in the AzureDevOps tool. The Build process manager has the ability to create separate tasks which simulate the manual process of creating the deployable code as explained in the Hello World example. The build process is triggered by checking the code into the Master branch.
The deployment process is similar and automates the process of taking the code and moving it out to the SharePoint tenant. The deployment is triggered on the completion of a successful “build”.
The Build and deployment process takes approximately 5 minutes and Mark showed the ability to track progress and see the console logging provided. Mark’s example also provided code coverage reports and testing dashboards.
When working on agile projects PSC recommends using AzureDevOps as the management tool of choice and as Mark demonstrated in this Tech Talk, building, testing and deploying SharePoint Framework widgets can automated.
I am very lucky enough to have been accepted to speak at SharePointFest Chicago for the third year running now. The subject is Automated Build and deploy of SharePoint Framework webparts.
One of the really fascinating things about working in a modern large development team is the outstanding benefits for automated testing, automated build, and automated deployment. Even for something which might not on the surface seem to be a “big deal” such as SPFx webpart development, has many advantages to be gained by using a professional automated development environment.
Since I submitted and was accepted to speak, VSTS has been renamed to Azure DevOps, so this might be difficult to pull off as a topic – but i think we will be ok 😉
SharePointFest is always alot of fun with a good crowd of speakers and attendees. I am excited to attend and excited to speak 🙂
DEV304 – Using VSTS to automate build and deployment tasks for SharePoint Framework webparts
Working on your own and building SharePoint Framework webparts is one thing, but when you have to work in a team on a larger project, the team approach to development has to be more structured and automated.
Modern team web development practices demand the use of unit tests, load testing and automated build and deploy methodologies. Why should developing for the Sharepoint framework be any different?
In this presentation Mark will highlight the advantages to using VSTS to create and manage and continuous build and deploy process for working with the Sharepoint Framework. Come and see how modern team development techniques can be applied to SPFx.
S106A Fri 2:20 PM – 3:30 pm
Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) is a serious and stressful disease to manage. When you have T1D, your pancreas stops producing insulin—a hormone essential to turning food into energy. This means you must constantly monitor your blood-sugar level, administer insulin, and carefully balance these insulin doses with your eating and activity just to stay alive. JDRF is the only global diabetes foundation with a strategic plan to end T1D. One of the main fundraisers for JDRF is in the form of the “Walk for the Cure” held all over the country these walks are often attended by thousands of people, all walking to help raise money to find a cure for T1D.
Just over a year ago we found out that my youngest daughter Paige has Type 1 Diabetes. JDRF has been amazing in helping us initially cope with the disease, but also being there in support of us when we needed it and providing community support for families in our situation.
Last year my company PSC Group sponsored The Odd Socks walk team as part of the work done through the Philanthropic Committee. We raised over $5,000 as a team and we were incredibly proud of what we achieved in our first year.
We are doing the Walk in Schaumburg Illinois again this year September 30th.
Please consider donating your time and or fundraising for the team so that we may find a cure for T1D. You can do both from the link to the team page below.
You can join the team any time until the day of the walk itself but we need to know before Saturday 22nd if you want one of the new improved TYE-DYE t-shirts for 2018.