Big value in "Littleware"

Blog Post created by mmiller on Oct 10, 2009

Many OSIsoft customers get frustrated by the fact that we do not provide vertical applications.  We talk about all the great thigs that can be done with PI, like Condition-based monitoring and predictive metrics, with little more than slideware from those who have done it and all the money they made or saved.  These applications provide lots of value off the shelf and we rely on our partners and customers to produce and deliver these applications.  vCampus was designed to be the way we help you deliver on these challenges.  But what about smaller applications?  What about the projects that are easy to build on top of PI that could do some neat things for PI users?


One of our close friends at OSIsoft, Phil Ryder used to talk about "littleware".  I like the idea of Littleware.  Littleware are software applications that were more than snipets and functions, but not really full scale "applications".  These are the numerous programs that get written to extend the vlaue of PI in everyday use.  I bet you have some.  Many of these were bantered about over the years and eventually updated and posted on DEVNET.  DEVNET was pretty useful in its day and promoted some ideas that are now standard features (like playback in ProcessBook). But there were problems with it too.  Without a supporting mechanism these "littleware" applications became out of date and did not use the ever advancing capabilities of the PI system.  The support and management of it became significant.  Mostly it didn't address the real issue of providing assistance and guidence to  those who needed to develop on PI.  But the idea of littleware still exists and it is as important as ever.


Most of us would like the idea of a PI littleware share.  Having lead many development teams I see a problem with lttleware sharing between non-developers.  It has to do with relationship between users and devlopers.  For littleware to be valueable you need to use it as part of a work process.  Although generic littleware can be used, integrating it can provide profound value.  The problem I see is, how do users get this integration?  Or any changes for that matter?  Users are accustomed to presenting these changes back to developers.  In a lttleware share the users and developer most likely work for different companies with different ideas about its use.  Code share between developers relieves this becuase the relationship is different.  As a pier developers can modify for thier own use and repost for other users.  Several versions could then be selected for best fit and rated.  That's what communities do righ?


 So, my question is, should the vCampus Community become involved in a PI Littleware Share?  This seems like something that would benefit the users we all serve and this community.  I think we could do it if we keep the code share within vCmapus, i.e.  developer to developer.  Any user suggestions would be posed to the community who could accomodate the changes for thier benefit and the benefit of others and repost. The vCampus team would be available, as always, to provide guidance and direction for completing these gems.