So we went on a mission to see if we could build our first Rich Internet Application for BI and EPM and here is what we did and what we found out.
We used Silverlight for our first try. We selected Silverlight over other RIA technologies because; one we knew C# and two there is a pretty good beta available for Silverlight. We are considering other technologies but wanted to start with what we could use and get running the fastest.
We started with lots of research and came up with two projects. The first project consisted of building what we called a Provider DLL (thanks Mike) that talked HTTP and XML to the existing Smart View back-end. This gave us access to the Planning and FM repositories (Forms, Business Rules and Calculations) and access to Essbase (Data and Calculations). The second project was the UI, this was done with a mix of Expression Blend and Visual Studio. This turned out pretty awesome and was very easy but we did find that there is not a whole lot out there as far as controls go for BI and EPM. We had to build all of our own controls. Here are some screen shots.
The really cool part about the application is the async nature of RIA’s. Basically everything is async and this really makes for a rich and crisp UI experience… No browser lockups, fast operations, run multiple operations at once, etc. Overall RIA’s seem to have a place in more than just consumer applications and we will continue to explore the possibilities of applying this technology to BI and EPM. Stay tuned for more on this topic.