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And that's it.

Posted by spilon Dec 21, 2012

It's a bit ironic that my last blog post was about the fact I passed the 10 year mark at OSIsoft, because my post today is to let you know this is my last day at OSIsoft. Indeed, I recently had to take a tough professional decision and as a result will be leaving OSIsoft to pursue a great opportunity with the family business.


While I look forward to the upcoming challenge, this is a heartbreaking decision because I leave nothing but positive behind me: I love the company, the product, the people I’ve worked for/with, this community, and the future was holding even more exciting stuff to work on. This has been a truly exciting and fun 10-year journey: Field Services, Training, Tech Support, vCampus and Product Management… I have learned so much and met so many wonderful people.


As you may know, I have been pretty involved with vCampus since its very inception, and I must say you are truly a great bunch of people. You guys are brilliant, innovative, collaborative and funny, and I will certainly miss you.


I hope to stay in touch with many of you and that our paths will cross again in the future, but in the meantime keep up the good work and long live the PI Geeks!



Yesterday marked my 10th year anniversary working at OSIsoft and I thought I'd take a minute to write a note to thank everybody who made this last decade a great deal of learning and fun! Thanks to so many people inside and outside OSIsoft, I wouldn't want to trade the last 10 years of my work life for anything in the world

I am very pleased to announce the immediate availability of PI OLEDB Enterprise 2012 Beta! I know a lot of you guys have been waiting for this release to take advantage of PI Event Frames capabilities in your reporting and BI type activities, as well as in your custom applications. Well, we are one (big) step closer to it and I invite you to go download the Beta from the "Pre-Release" area of the vCampus Download Center and give it a good try!


***BEFORE YOU INSTALL: make sure you upgrade your AF Server toBeta 3, which is now also available in the "Pre-Release" area of the vCampus Download Center. This is necessary for the event frame functionality to work...


This Beta is a great opportunity to get familiar with the new functionality early on and provide us with feedback (i.e. if you find bugs or have enhancement requests you would like to submit). Of course we strongly encourage you to try it out and provide feedback as soon as you possibly can... the sooner you provide your feedback, the more likely it is that we have time to react in time for the actual release [;]


The main additions in this version are:

  • Event Frame tables have been added to a new EventFrame schema (read-only, as for the rest of PI OLEDB Enterprise)
  • Export/Import capability for custom database objects (e.g. Views, Transpose Functions) has been added to PI SQL Commander, which will come in handy when comes time to move from one AF Database to another (e.g. Stage to Production) - credits to Sergey for raising the issue over here!
  • Added a GetPIPoint Table-Valued Function, which is particularly useful if you are using a mix of the classic PI OLEDB Provider and PI OLEDB Enterprise, and you need to de-reference an Element Attribute or Event Frame Attribute and get its underlying PI Point.
  • The Asset.ElementReference table has been added. It complements the Asset.vElementReference table and simplifies queries in certain cases.

To help you with the new Event Frame tables, we added material to the PI SQL Query Compendium, available through the PI SQL Commander: first load the Event Frames contained in NuGreen_EventFrame.xml (using PI System Explorer) and then walk through and exercise the queries contained in EventFrame.sql:






Please see the User Guide and the Release Notes for more information on these new additions.


Aside from a few performance enhancements and (hopefully not too many) bug fixes, the only change you can expect between this Beta version and the final release, is the addition of the Transpose Function Wizard for Event Frame Templates (it's currently available for Element Templates only).


Keep in mind this is a pre-release version and as such, shouldn't be used in a Production environment - please refer to the OSIsoft vCampus End-User License Agreement for more details about CTP-specific licensing terms.


The PI OLEDB Enterprise product team looks forward to hearing from you! Please submit your feedback on the discussion forum or privately to

If you don't mind my accent...

Posted by spilon Jul 31, 2012

Indeed if you don't mind my French-Canadian accent, you can consider registering for the next vCampus-exclusive webinar: PI Data Access 2012 – Event [Frames] Integration 


With my colleagues Todd Brown and Chris Nelson, we'll be showing how the PI Data Access 2012 family is embracing the event framing concepts and delivers PI Event Frames functionality. Whether you want to develop a custom application (in an object-oriented, SQL, or service-oriented fashion) or integrate the PI System with other Line-of-Business systems, chances are you'll want to leverage one or more of the PI Data Access components... and ideally leverage significant events that occurred and were recorded in the PI System, as opposed to having to deal with individual and unrelated timestamps all the time.


Register now!

To all PI Web Services users,
we are pleased to announce the immediate availability of the Community Technology Preview (CTP) of PI Web Services 2012!


This CTP is designed to give technical users a preview of PI Web Services 2012, providing you an opportunity to get acquainted with the new features, plan ahead for deployments, and share feedback around how to enhance the upcoming release. This version brings some significant new features that this community has been asking for:

  • Search for PI Asset Framework (PI AF) Elements and associated Attributes, leveraging your comprehensive asset model to improve the access to time-series data. This includes searches by name, template, location, Attribute names and values, etc.
  • Search for PI AF Element Templates
  • Search for PI Event Frames, including the ability to navigate to referenced elements and their Attributes to obtain time-series data

Please consult the User Manual (PDF or CHM) for more information on the new methods, objects, etc. You can also access the document in HTML format on your PI Web Services server, by browsing to http://yourServer/PIWebServices/Help (if you installed the IIS Edition, not the Standalone Edition).


As you would expect with a pre-release version, there are a few limitations and pieces of functionality that are missing - so here is a list of the enhancements that we expect to bring in the actual PI Web Services 2012 release:

  • Ability to write values to AF Attribute paths (the InsertPIData method currently only supports writing to PI Point paths)
  • Retrieval of PI Event Frames statistics, such as the total time covered, average/minimum/maximum length, and the count
  • [Ability to retrieve time-series data for PI Event Frame Attributes directly (the CTP only supports retrieving time-series data for Attributes belonging to AFEelements referenced by PI Event Frames)
    ***UPDATE: in fact this is possible with the CTP version. See the first and third entries in the comments below, for more details.***
  • Search for AF Element Attributes directly, without going through their parent Element
  • Ability to use the GetPIArchiveData method to request interpolated time-series data by time interval (StartTime, EndTime, TimeStep), in addition to requesting it by number of interpolations (StartTime, EndTime, NumInterval)
  • PIEventFrame.Duration, returned by the FindPIEventFrames method, will return the elapsed time at the time of the query for Event Frames that are still running (the CTP version returns null)
  • Consolidation of the PI Event Frames types in a single XML namespace: (some objects are in at this point)

Keep in mind this is a pre-release version and as such, shouldn't be used in a Production environment - please refer to the OSIsoft vCampus End-User License Agreement for more details about CTP-specific licensing terms.


The PI Web Services product team looks forward to hearing from you! Please submit your feedback on the discussion forum or privately to

Alrighty! It's released! As you might have seen from the release announcement that just went out from the Tech Support website, we just (re-)released PI OLEDB Enterprise 2010 R3! You can now download it from the vCampus Download Center, under the "PI Data Access" category.


As you may remember, this release was part of the overall PI Data Access 2010 R3 wave of releases and we had to pull PI OLEDB Enterprise to fix a defect that may have affected you. We thank you for your patience as we were ensuring a higher-quality release, and we sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.


We are looking forward to getting your feedback on this release and read the questions you may have! I did blog about these releases and the new features some time ago, but please consider registering for the upcoming webinar: All you want to know about the PI Data Access 2010 R3 releases.


Happy SQL'ing!

PI Data Access 2010 R3 Releases

Posted by spilon Feb 21, 2012

Dear vCampus Community,


We are pleased to announce the PI Data Access 2010 R3 wave of releases, the last piece of the greater PI Server 2010 R3 release! Indeed, we just released the 2010 R3 version of PI OLEDB Enterprise, PI JDBC and PI Web Services, which complete the family portrait with the release of the classic PI OLEDB Provider 2010 R3 back in early January. These releases focus on performance improvements and provide several other enhancements and bug fixes:

  • PI OLEDB Enterprise
    • Support for AF attribute searches and AF attribute value searches anywhere in the asset structure, without the need to traverse and reference AF elements from the hierarchy
    • Support for the LEFT OUTER JOIN statements, which is very useful for more sophisticated queries that combine asset metadata and time series data.
    • Significant performance enhancements for both time series data access and asset metadata access
    • Reduced memory consumption
    • Ability to configure error handling options (Embed Errors, Ignore Errors) globally, via the Connection String
    • Ability to change the Catalog in use dynamically ("USE <catalog name>" statement)
  • Classic PI OLEDB Provider
    • This release includes an important performance enhancement, specifically around archive queries that involve many tags but few values per tag
    • Bug fixes, including Punchlist Item (PLI) #22196OSI8
    • This version comes bundled with PI SDK 2010 R2 which enables Client-Side Buffering (buffered data writes and writing to High Availability PI Server)
    • Benefits from all enhancements made to PI OLEDB Enterprise and the classic PI OLEDB Provider, as listed above
    • Support for the Java Runtime Environment (JRE) version 7
  • PI Web Services
    • Performance enhancements
    • Support for "data by exception" for PI tags (commonly referred to as "signup for updates")
    • Improved installation experience
    • Support for additional data insertion modes
    • Support for hosting PI Web Services in Windows without Microsoft Internet Information Services (IIS)
    • This version comes bundled with PI SDK 2010 R2 which enables Client-Side Buffering (buffered data writes and writing to High Availability PI Server)

Of course you can consult individual product Release Notes for a more detailed listing of changes/fixes.


While I certainly hope the user manuals provide all the information you need on the new functionality, we will be hosting a webinar to discuss the PI Data Access 2010 R3 wave of releases, show performance numbers and go through the new functionality. More details to come.


I look forward to reading about how the improved performance and the new features of these products are helping you bring projects to fruition! Please do not hesitate to share snippets of your projects (e.g. screenshots) with me, as I love to hear how you make use of our products, what problems you solve, as well as what you would like to see next. Of course you can contact me directly at if you don't want to provide this kind of feedback publicly, on the forums


Now what? You can look forward to the PI Data Access 2012 releases, whose main purpose will be to deliver PI Event Frames capabilities! Please reach out to me if you are interested in being an early adopter for these!

Like Ahmad and a few other OSI'ers, I am in Anaheim this week to attend Microsoft's //BUILD/ conference. This conference is centered around Windows development and in case you were disconnected from the blogosphere in the last few days, they unveiled Windows 8. It is a re-imagined Windows (as the Softies say) and it is meant to embrace new form factors and touch-centric devices (including those powered by ARM processors). They also announced Windows Server 8 which has a lot of impressive enhancements, although less "cool" than it's client counterpart :)


They released the "Developer Preview" of both these operating systems, as well as the developer preview of Visual Studio 11 Express, for developers to start cutting code on these. As Ahmad pointed out in his blog post, they gave all 5000 attendees a Samsung tablet device running Windows 8 Developer Preview, which came preloaded with Visual Studio 11 and a bunch of Win8 Apps to illustrate some of the new concepts.


(interesting to note is that most of these apps were written by summer interns... man I wish I had that cool of an internship myself, back then!!)


I am writing this blog post to reflect on some of the new paradigms they introduced.


2 Operating Systems in 1


First, Windows 8 (not Windows Server 8) can run in 2 main modes:

  • the touch-centric one, which expands on the Windows Phone 7 interface with a collection of dynamic "tiles" (i.e. icons on steroids)
  • the "classic" Windows mode, almost identical to Windows 7

In the classic mode, the "Start Menu" brings you back to the touch-centric Start page.


APIs for all!


As you can see in the second screenshot Ahmad posted here, Microsoft added a entire new framework for developers to use and develop "Metro Style Apps" which run in the touch-centric mode I described above. This is in addition to all the existing APIs you are familiar with today, which can still be used to develop regular "Desktop Apps" which run in the classic mode I described above. This second option will most likely fade out over the next coming years, as touch-centric apps gain popularity.


This new set of APIs is called the Windows Runtime (WinRT for short) and is being surfaced in a seamless manner in C, C++, C#, VB.NET as well as JavaScript (!!!). These APIs abstract out the internals of the OS and provide very rich access to various components, including the UI aspect of it in most cases. For example if you invoke the File Picker in your app, it's going to bring the user in a standard file picking environment that makes the file selection process consistent and very enjoyable. This environment reaches out to various areas of your file system, online locations like SkyDrive, as well locations being exposed by other apps (e.g. Facebook of Flickr, if you are looking for a picture).


As far as the UI, you need to use XAML when you develop in C, C++, C# or VB.NET (just like when you build Silverlight or WPF applications), or HTML5 when you work in conjunctino with JavaScript.


Note, you can develop WinRT components (akin to a .NET Assembly) in one language, which can then be referenced and used by apps written in any other language.


Layouts and Orientations


Because of the vast array of form factors and devices this is meant to run on, you can imagine that app developers will have to accomodate for various resolutions, aspect ratios, as well as the fact that a number of these devices can actually rotate (from portrait to landscape and vice-versa).


In addition to that, Microsoft introduced a new layout paradigm that every app needs to support: apps can be either of 3 modes:

  1. Full-screen: every single pixel of the screen is yours… no title bar, no status bar, no tool bars. Options that are not part of the main UI are relayed to areas that can be invoked by sliding your finger from the edges of the screen.
  2. Pinned: a state available when in landscape, where the app takes up 320 pixels wide (and full height) on the left or right side of the screen. Note, your app can have a different behavior than in full screen mode (or even be static and not work at all), but you have to provide that view.
  3. Filled: when an app is pinned, the rest of the screen (total width - 320px - 20x for the slider) is the app in "filled" state.

Cross-App Interoperability


Another interesting paradigm they introduced is this concept of "Contracts" - examples of these are the Search, Share and Picker contracts. If you implement the Picker contract, for example, then your app appears in the File Picking experience I described above, allowing users of another app to pick up something (e.g. a picture) from your app.


In other words the more apps implement these contracts, the more interoperable they become and the more rich the Windows 8 experience will become.


Live Tiles and Notifications


The last thing I would like to share here is about the live tiles and notifications -two great opportunities for developers of Metro style apps in Windows 8. Basically, tiles need to be more than just an icon; they are the doorway, the invitation to your app. As such, it can (and probably should) contain more than an icon and a title… it can contain content from within your app (e.g. pictures, in the case of a photo app), state and number indicators, etc.


Plus, these are dynamic and can change over time, which is a great opportunity to communicate/engage with the user (e.g. notify the user of something that changed). They also support what they call Toast Notifications, which consist of notifications that can be delivered whenever, not necessarily when your app is running.




This is a summarized summary (!) of some of my takeaways from this week, and I think all of this is pretty exciting for every single one of you - whether you are a developer or an end-user. I look forward to learning and experimenting more with Windows 8, and especially look forward to hearing your thoughts about how you see OSIsoft leveraging all this to deliver exciting products to you.


Talk to you soon!

PI OLEDB Enterprise 2010 R2

Posted by spilon Apr 20, 2011

To all the OLEDB developers and integrators out there, I am pleased to announce that PI OLEDB Enterprise 2010 R2 is now released! You can go get it now under the vCampus Download Center, in the "PI Data Access" area.


This release addresses important limitations of some 3rd party consumers that have problems with (or simply do not support) OLE DB providers that include .NET code. These limitations were overcome by separating the .NET code from the provider using a new developed Windows Service called "PI OLEDB Enterprise Agent", which executes all .NET calls. As a result, additional consumers and configurations are now working - for instance Linked Servers in Microsoft SQL Server, with "Allow inprocess" configuration (yes, just that!)


This version also features the following:

  • New "Allow Expensive" initialization property and new "OPTION (ALLOW EXPENSIVE)" clause allow to execute expensive queries (i.e. some unrestricted, or WHERE-less queries)
  • Performance enhancements in reading AF Attribute values (up to 30%)
  • Changes in menu structure of PI SQL Commander to better integrate with Visual Studio Framework

But wait, we're not done yet, I've got other good news for you: this version bundles the recently released patches for PI SDK ( and AF Client (2.3.1). You can read their respective release notes for all the juicy details, but one key item this addresses is the incompatibility between the latest release of the classic PI OLEDB Provider ( and the PI SDK version - this is referred to as Known Issue #22196OSI8 and was discussed at length on the vCampus forums... well, it's fixed now!


Now head down on the next big release of PI OLEDB Enterprise, which will include Event Frames functionality!
Stay tuned and happy OLEDB'ing!

Yes, you can get external data into Microsoft Visio and Visio Services (Visio on the web, in the SharePoint environment). This can be done through OLE DB, which means you can get PI System data in your Visio drawings/schemas.


This begs the question: do you guys use this at all? Anybody using PI data in their Visio files? If yes, I am curious to hear what you use it for and what kind of data are you displaying... looking forward to your comments!

OSIsoft vCampus turned 2 !!

Posted by spilon Nov 23, 2010

Yes, blow the candles: the vCampus program had its 2-year anniversary last Tuesday, November 16th !!


Everybody is really busy these days (noticed the website upgrade? ) and this kind of went unnoticed, but I think it is important to take a minute and realize where we're at and where we're coming from. We announced the vCampus program back in October 2008, at the Amsterdam Users Conference - it went live on November 16th, 2008 and consisted of our first true online community.


In 2 years, we went from nothing to:

Thanks to everybody on the community, whether you are a customer, a partner or an OSIsoft employee! This has been a very exciting journey so far, and definitely improved how we interact and communicate with our developers and integrators community - by helping all of you guys build higher-value and higher-quality solutions (hopefully!), and by helping us understand how you use our products and what you need from us. I hope you feel the same way and that this will last for a very long time!


And off to our 3rd year together!

Hello, JDBC Developers of the world!


If you are familiar with JDBC and the Java Platform, you probably know that the latest version of the JDBC API is 4.0 and the latest version of the Java Platform is 6 (these were released December 11th, 2006). This is what our PI JDBC Driver supports.


In this first year of existence of our PI JDBC Driver, we received a few requests to support the older JDBC 3.0 API, which was included in on Java SE 1.4 (a.k.a 4). We originally planned to implement this "retrograde feature" in the 2010 R2 release (v1.1) that's coming up by the end of the year, but decided against that for a couple reasons:

  1. We had a lot of new exciting features to implement, and any time spent on this would obviously prevent our small (but oh so smart!) team to work on these...
    Per the PI System Roadmap, expect this release by the end of the year
  2. Some of the major players people would integrate PI JDBC with (e.g. SAP Business Objects, IBM Cognos), ended up upgrading their offerings to support the JDBC 4.0 API.
  3. There is a workaround to use SQL Server (which you most likely have, because of AF ) as a bridge with Microsoft's SQL Server JDBC Driver, which supports both 3.0 and 4.0

So, the question to you all: do you think it's valuable for us to consider implementing the older JDBC 3.0 API and support for older Java runtimes such as JRE5 and/or JRE4, in a subsequent release of PI JDBC? If so, why? Please include your platform and other Application Server details which prevent you from upgrading to JRE6.

System.out.println("Looking forward to hearing from you all!");

The evolution of the geek

Posted by spilon Nov 16, 2010

Off my daily dose of techy/geeky readings, I'd like to share one that's admittedly not really useful, but pretty funny. Plus, it follows up on another discussion thread from a couple weeks ago, thanks to Matt Rivet.


It also (sort of) confirms what I have been hearing from people in the last couple years, with regards to our choice of the "where PI Geeks meet..." tagline for the OSIsoft vCampus Live! events: geek is the new cool


So here it is: the evolution of the geek. Enjoy!


101116_2D00_TheEvolutionOfTheGeek.jpgand finally, the PI geeks: 101116_2D00_PIGeeks.png

Hey there! Sorry it's been a while since I last blogged... OSIsoft vCampus Live! 2010 and the transition from the vCampus Team to Product Management made the last couple months pretty busy!


As you may have noticed on the blogosphere lately, the "HTML5 vs. Silverlight" debate has been keeping people pretty busy too... actually, we also had our share of that debate over here, on vCampus. As I pointed out a couple times in this discussion thread I just linked, Microsoft still considers Silverlight very important and wishes to entertain development around both HTML5 and Silverlight.


As a matter of fact, we just received this invitation for a special event, from our contacts at Microsoft:


UPDATE: I got this "Questions & Answers" document from Microsoft, after I blogged about this. Hope this helps!




I'm assuming we'll see good discussion on the forums again, after the event 

If you attended OSIsoft vCampus Live! 2010, you might have seen this announcement in your mailbox already... if you haven't seen it already, we are happy to announce that video recordings and presentations are now available! Attendees of the event can access all that content under the Live! tab at the top of the site.


We look forward to seeing you all again next year (along with everybody else!) at OSIsoft vCampus Live! 2011 - week of September 12th 2011, at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco. Save the date!



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