22 Replies Latest reply on Apr 17, 2018 3:26 PM by skwan

    ACE wizard and visual studio 2015

    HeroldvdVegt

      According to KB00740 - PI ACE support for Visual Studio 2012, 2013 and 2015 the ACE Wizard will no longer work and be supported in Visual Studio 2015

      That's quite a statement.

      That would mean I would not be able to create an new ACE module after mainstream support for Visual Studio 2013 ends, in 2019.

      Or when we move all software development to Visual Studio 2015, hopefully before 2019.

       

      Will Osisoft provide another tool to replace the ACE Wizard or does this mean the PI ACE will be End of Life.

        • Re: ACE wizard and visual studio 2015
          Marcos Vainer Loeff

          Hello Herold,

           

          Yes, you are right. PI ACE won’t be supported in Visual Studio 2015. We have another product to replace PI ACE called PI Asset Based Analytics. Product management found out that the majority of the use cases of PI ACE can be migrated to PI Asset Based Analytics even considering the fact that this product currently does not provide a real programmatic experience.

           

          Remember that PI AF SDK is now our preferred data access product. It has better performance and more options than PI SDK. PI ACE uses PI SDK under the hood while PI Asset Based Analytics utilizes PI AF SDK internally.

           

          If you feel that PI Asset Based Analytics won’t solve your problem, creating a Windows Service which uses PI AF SDK in a good way to go. This is what we do with our own internal projects.

           

          Hope it helps!

          1 of 1 people found this helpful
            • Re: ACE wizard and visual studio 2015
              skwan

              Hi Herold:

               

              Let me jump in here for a moment.  As Marcos already mentioned, and in case you're not aware, we released a new calculation engine in 2014 that is tightly integrated with AF.  We call the new feature "asset analytics".  It is not a product by itself, but rather an added feature to AF.  This of course allows us to leverage the features and capabilities of AF for context, UOM conversion, consistency (via templates), etc.  The data that we have is that many of our customers use ACE primarily for the scheduler and it's not absolutely necessary to do the math in ACE.  The feedback we have received is that many of our users are migrating from ACE over to asset analytics as they much prefer a configuration experience over a programming experience and the performance of asset analytics is acceptable for their needs.  This of course assumes the provided functionalities in asset analytics satisfy their needs.

               

              Meanwhile, our current recommendation is that if you are using ACE and the new asset analytics does not satisfy your needs, please contact product management (that would be me ) and we would evaluate your needs.  If your needs are applicable to a wider customer base, we would consider adding it to our standard product.  This accomplishes many things - allows us to better understand, in details, what our customers are trying to do and to make it available to a wider customer base as a supported feature if it makes sense, help our customers to move to a configuration experience rather than a programming experience for ease of use, and (selfishly) decrease our support load.  It's very difficult to provide support when given a bunch of ACE codes that don't work to the customer's satisfaction and we have to figure out why.

               

              Lastly, we fully understand there will be situations where a programming experience is required.  We do have a backlog item to provide extensibility to asset analytics.  However, I would like to use customer requirements to drive our backlog priority and if the need is there, we would move up the priority.

               

              So while we're on this subject, what is preventing you from moving your ACE code over to asset analytics?  Would you like to share you use case?  You can do it privately if you don't want to post it in a public forum - just send me an email.

               

              --

              Steve Kwan

              2 of 2 people found this helpful
                • Re: ACE wizard and visual studio 2015
                  HeroldvdVegt

                  Hi Steven,

                  We are currently on PI 2012, that's what stopping us at this moment.

                  According to Life cycle management, we should upgrade next year to a newer version.

                  AF is installed, but we are not really using it at this moment.

                  We use ACE, and the MDB, quite extensively for calculations and the configuration of ACE contexts.

                  PI ACE itself is used mostly for scheduling and one of the advantages is that some of our end users can create, maintain, start and stop contexts using the Pi ACE Manager and PI SMT or Module database builder without the need of going to the "IT department".

                  We don't really use the ACE wizard a lot, only for creating new ACE modules. We have other tooling for testing and debugging and I think I already know what to do to create a new ACE module using PI SMT. Technically we are probably covered

                  Some of the simple calculations can be easily converted to Asset Analytics, but there are also calculations with 20+ inputs and as many outputs.

                  Again, technically, it would probably be possible to convert these into the Expressions of an Analysis, but I'm not sure of the readability and maintainability of such calculations. We would have to look into that.

                   

                  As far a I know there is no end of support date for PI ACE it self.

                  But if the tools for creating and maintaining PI ACE modules are phased out that should be a trigger for me, as a developer \ application manager, to warn my (internal) customer of this change and discuss how we should deal with it and give some options.

                  I would rather plan these changes somewhere in the next 4 years, than rush these changes in the last few months because Visual Studio 2013 has to be removed for development machines for some reason.

                  That was the main reason for my question, to make sure it is placed on the Application Life cyle Management calendar for the correct reasons.

                  • Re: ACE wizard and visual studio 2015
                    parasyn

                    Stephen ... I have a use case I would love to share ... and see how it is handled.  I work for a large mining company where we have ace running across 10 mines with many units that collect gas to do complex gas density calculations.  We also run calculations to sum up the gas densities across individual units to determine site totals, and we also have a complex calculation to determine the statisical variation of the data at each unit and site.  I would love to transition to AF.  I have been told that AF cannot do the types of complex calculations that ACE can.  I am talking gas density calculations here.

                    Calculations like z_GasMix: isentropic exponent, molar fraction of water and gas, & viscosity formulas.

                    Many of these formulas use constant values, square roots, numbers to powers etc.

                    I can provide specific formulas if helpful.

                      • Re: ACE wizard and visual studio 2015
                        gregor

                        Hello Peter,

                         

                        There's nothing uncommon with constant values, square roots numbers to powers etc.

                         

                        Probably the best option for you would be to look at Asset Analytics yourself and challenge it with some of your more complex calculations. It's usually not a good idea to do this in a production environment and you may not have the latest bits installed in production. Therefore, please send me a private note if you are interested in a 45 days trial membership to PI Developers Club. One of the major benefits that comes with the paid membership is the PI System for personal development purposes included with the membership. Another one is access to the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) that could serve you at first glance if you just want to experiment without installing your own environment. Please see our Frequently asked Questions for details.

                         

                        You can as well get a better idea about Asset Analytics, by looking at the documentation at live library e.g. Analytics and notifications and more specific the Expression functions reference.

                        • Re: ACE wizard and visual studio 2015
                          skwan

                          Hi Peter,

                          Thanks for the post.  Are you doing any iterations like looping in your calculations?  Are you doing curve lookups?  If you can provide a bit more specifics, that would really help me.

                          --

                          Steve Kwan

                        • Re: ACE wizard and visual studio 2015
                          Roger Palmen

                          Any planning for the availability of the extensibility? Using the 'leave no customer behind' principle, we need a catch-all solution for replacing ACE and extensibility sounds exactly like that!

                          • Re: ACE wizard and visual studio 2015
                            Steve.Buckley

                            I have written the code for two actual use cases which I believe would be difficult if not impossible to 'configure' rather than 'code'. Both involve parsing files, converting raw data to both PI data tags and a JSON string tag to hold the composite data as a single record. One involves get external web api data from a regional power grid (ISO-NE), the other involves a printing press that generates XML data files as its data source. The press for example maintains several instances of a Record object, and requires comparisons of the last good production record, the first setup record, the last setup record, the last record, and the current record in order to determine the current state of the press as well as other key press-run metrics. The code must also move the files to various folders depending on criteria. I used ACE for its scheduler so users could see the green-light dashboard, but more importantly to me, the error logging engine. Simply using the OS task scheduler would be a terrific way to lose everything the next time the server hardware was updated by an IT tech who didn't notice the scheduled task was not an OS function.

                        • Re: ACE wizard and visual studio 2015
                          jramirez

                          Hi Guys:

                           

                          We have been working extensively with AF Analytics and even though it is powerful, it does not match the capabilities of a full blown programming environment like ACE,  I think OSISoft should rethink the ACE tools phase out idea and reverse it to full AFSDK/ACE support on the newest visual studio versions.

                           

                          I have customers that heavily use ACE and I see NO WAY how those applications can be done in AF, in addition to the AF stability problems that we have faced.

                           

                          my two cents.

                           

                          Jaime Ramirez

                            • Re: ACE wizard and visual studio 2015
                              Roger Palmen

                              You know, i'm usually not a big fan of ACE as i can avoid it in many cases. But in this case i understand and even support your request. It will take quite some time before customers relying heavily on ACE to move over to AF Analytics. Adding the current 'practical limitations' of AF into the mix.

                               

                              The request itself is not such a huge one. The only AFSDK and AF-based alternative we have is to build our own schedulers to run periodic and event-triggered calculations. That would be a custom development on AF as repository and AFSDK to trigger the actual code modules. And building ourselves is not something we like to do.

                               

                              So the option to extend the lease of life of ACE makes sense. Limited effort, maximum effect, no major redevelopments. There is one key reason why i would think this won't happen. OSI is a product-based organisation so the tendency is to go for developments that bring in revenue. And ACE won't bring in a lot of new revenue as this would be a tactical solution, not a strategic one. Nothing bad about that, just my thoughts.

                                • Re: ACE wizard and visual studio 2015
                                  jramirez

                                  Hi:

                                   

                                  I agree 100% with you ideas, there is a need for a fully features development environment (like ACE) I do not see how they will incorporate a decent debugger, editor, etc. in the AF...the thing here is HOW to push this idea to the proper level in OSISoft...FULL ACE/AF SDK integration, (no MDB), etc.

                                   

                                  Jaime

                                    • Re: ACE wizard and visual studio 2015
                                      jramirez

                                      Hi:

                                       

                                      Yes, A Full development environment, a decent debugger, editor, etc.

                                       

                                      Jaime

                                        • Re: ACE wizard and visual studio 2015
                                          skwan

                                          Hi Jaime,

                                          We monitor PI Square to understand customer needs.  Let's look at the end goal, the end goal is for users to be able to build their own calculations that leverages AF.  Does it have to be an updated ACE?  That's the question.  What if we allow you to write your own code and have the analytics engine call your calculation module from within analyses, maybe something like a custom function?  Wouldn't that accomplish the end goal?  At the end of the day, this may give you more flexibilities.

                                          --

                                          Steve Kwan

                                            • Re: ACE wizard and visual studio 2015
                                              jramirez

                                              Stephen:

                                               

                                              I think we should be able to do this, (other far more advanced users may have a different opinion obviously):

                                               

                                              a) Full blown development environment (like VS) so we can have a decent editor, debugger and test platform, similar to ACE.

                                              b) Full AF/PI SDK access.

                                              c) The resulting code can then be called from a AF Analysis on a natural or scheduled basis.

                                              d) The resulting code must also be able to be run on the PI server not just on the AF, so in the event of a PI-AF communications issue the code won´t be affected.

                                               

                                              On another hand, I have these comments on the AF Analytics:

                                               

                                              a) We have seen weird behavior when the number of analysis is high (We have a 3000+ analysis/AF application) e.g. you modify an analysis at the template level and it affects non related calculations all over the system.

                                              b) The Backfill should be able to recalculate over the entire specified time interval, so if there is existing data it should be recalculated too.

                                              c) Some time when you click the "test" button the calculations/EF work equations ok, but in real execution does not.

                                               

                                              Best Regards

                                               

                                              Jaime

                                                • Re: ACE wizard and visual studio 2015
                                                  skwan

                                                  Jaime,

                                                  Which version of AF are you using?

                                                  --

                                                  Steve Kwan

                                                  • Re: ACE wizard and visual studio 2015
                                                    mhalhead

                                                    Hi Jaime,

                                                     

                                                    I agree with your call for a way of building "advanced" calculations that can be executed in AF Analytics. I would also like to use tools like Matlab and potentially R in those calculations. I bug Stephen regularly about this.

                                                     

                                                    I do have a few comments  on you comments on AF Analytics:

                                                    a) We have seen weird behavior when the number of analysis is high (We have a 3000+ analysis/AF application) e.g. you modify an analysis at the template level and it affects non related calculations all over the system.

                                                    b) The Backfill should be able to recalculate over the entire specified time interval, so if there is existing data it should be recalculated too.

                                                    A) I would recommend bugging tech support. I have AF servers with similar sizes and I haven't seen the issue; doesn't mean it hasn't happened I just haven't seen it.

                                                    B) PI System 2016R2 has support for recalculating Analytics. You get two options, you can either fill in the missing data or replace all the data in the range (delete then recalc). It has just been released so I don't have a lot of experience using it.

                                                  • Re: ACE wizard and visual studio 2015
                                                    Aantje

                                                    Hi Steve,

                                                     

                                                    I saw this quote from you: "What if we allow you to write your own code and have the analytics engine call your calculation module from within analyses, maybe something like a custom function?  Wouldn't that accomplish the end goal?  At the end of the day, this may give you more flexibilities."

                                                    Are there already plans to implement this, because this is exactly what we are looking for to replace PI-ACE.

                                                     

                                                    Regards, Arie

                                            • Re: ACE wizard and visual studio 2015
                                              Nocodes79

                                              I fully support the need for PI ACE or an alternative.

                                              There are times we really use ACE as a scheduler for calculations that really iterate up and down over complete AF tree to get the input for all the leaves of the tree.

                                               

                                              An AF ACE is really necessary for us. Otherwise we would have to switch to custom solutions for scheduling calculations.