1. Briefly describe what you built and how you built it.

Golder Associates is an international consulting company specializing in ground engineering and environmental services. Part of the work involves collecting and handling large amounts of data – of many different kinds. Is this soil/water/tree/fish/house contaminated? We need to take samples and have them analyzed to find out. Is this soil/house/sheet pile moving? We must take measurements and/or monitor the movements.

To handle the data efficiently we have for the last 2 years developed a system based on a SharePoint web interface developed almost entirely using Quick Apps for SharePoint (formerly Web Parts). Some of the design criteria for the system/web interface have been:

    • The system must be able to handle all measurement types commonly used by the company;
    • Adding new projects and measurement types must be easy;
    • The system must handle many (types of) projects;
    • For internal use we have one common website where we can see all results from all projects;
    • Each project in most cases however have an own website. Different clients and different requirements for content and layout;
    • Therefore the web interface must be easy to create and change. The projects are very different in size and longevity. Some may last just a month and involve only a single type of measurement. Others are long-lasting and complex monitoring projects, where results will be coming in for many years to come;
    • Many projects are in connection with construction projects, where the data is time critical. People working on a site will frequently need to know whether their activity has an effect on the parameters being monitored. So update of data on the web must be immediate;
    • The system must be multilingual. We, and many of our clients, are global companies. So it must be easy to change language on the web interface.

The system is based on a SQL Server database, and on the web interface we in addition to Quest Web Parts use .NET Charting for charts and ESRI ArcGIS Server for maps.

Some statistics for the system middle of August 2011:

    • 50 projects;
    • 69 sample types;
    • 4 500 sample points;
    • ~11 500 environmental samples;
    • ~200 000 analytical results;
    • ~12 million measurements (currently around 25 000 per day);

In addition to the data projects also may include handling of e.g. documents, photos, tasks and other information. In these cases we generally use native SharePoint for the data and documents and Quest Web Parts for the display/interface.

2. Which web parts did you use?

We have used most of the available Dell web parts somewhere in the system, but for the data interface the main ones have been the SI web parts: qSIListView, qSIListForm, and qSISelector.

3. Which version of SharePoint is your application built on?

We are using SharePoint 2007 MOSS.

4. What business need does your SharePoint application address?

Handling large amounts of data is an important of what we as a company do. We must be able to do this quickly, efficiently and securely, which is why we have established a database system to handle “everything”. But these days this is not enough. The clients want to have access to and maybe even enter their own data, so we need to give them a web interface, where they can see real-time data and do their own interrogation and interpretation of the results. And it must of course look nice and be easy to navigate to achieve a positive user experience.

That we have been successful can be seen from the number of projects where the system is used. That the system is easy to set up is illustrated by the small size of some of the projects. A new website can be created in very little time (=on a very small budget). The power and flexibility is illustrated by the size of some of the larger projects, where the system is used to handle and display huge amounts of many different kinds of information.

Based on the system we are becoming involved in more and larger projects and are getting new clients and strengthening the ties to some of the existing ones. A large part of the projects are handled by our daughter company Geometrik AB, whose business model is to provide instrumentation and easy-understandable and reliable measurement data to their clients. They have during the last years become the main player in Sweden in this field of operation, expanding their turnover by 300%. This could never have been achieved without this system.

5. What feature of Quick Apps was most valuable when building your application?

For this application the most valuable features of Quick Apps were:

    • The ease of deployment and configuration. We can in “no time at all” set up new web-sites for new projects, and modify them to suit the specific project and client needs;
    • The web interface for the web parts which is easy to understand and use. We’ve had people without prior SharePoint or programming experience assist in the development and design of the web-sites;
    • That it’s easy to change field names and other text. Extremely valuable to us since we are using the same back end for projects in many languages (currently we have projects in Swedish, Norwegian, English and Italian);
    • The SI (System Integration) features, making it possible to communicate with a standard SQL Server database through web services;
    • The Custom Display functionality of the List view is extremely important to us, and is used extensively, partly for lay-out purposes (e.g. showing data horizontally instead of vertically or making more compact/easier to read/nicer looking views), partly for showing secondary content (embed other information like maps, charts and photos in iFrames) and partly to achieve the necessary functionality using javascript functions;
    • The ability to make use of and pass on parameters to other web parts (as http parameters, web part connections or session parameters);
    • The ability to use relative links, meaning anything developed on one site can easily can be copied to other sites;
    • The Hide/Show user group functionality makes it possible for us to have different content for different users on the same page. Used e.g. so some users only see validated results, others see all results.

Through the use of Quick Apps we have managed a seamless integration of 4 different sources of information/data. The SharePoint content, maps from Arc GIS Server, charts from .NET Charting and data from SQL Server published using web services are shown together. The Quick Apps provide the “glue” that binds everything together, providing the necessary connections, the navigation and a uniform layout.

6. Provide 3-5 screenshots of your application.

In the following are five screen shots of our application.

Figure 1: Environmental information for an area.

The first two figures are from a website for Raufoss Industrial Park, one of the oldest and largest industrial areas in Norway. 68 areas in the park have been suspected of being contaminated. These areas have been treated as separate entities by the park and the environmental authorities in relationship to investigations that have been carried out to identify the extent of the contamination, and when deciding on clean-up (remediation) requiements and criteria. The clean-up is now largely completed, but monitoring of the environmental conditions will continue for many years to come. The website has been established, based on a request from the authorities, to collect and present the huge amount of environmental information for the park.

This page shows information about one of the 68 areas in the park. There is a total of 13 Quick Apps web parts on this page. Plus one in the small pop-up window in the map.

Figure 2: Environmental data for a sample point.

This page shows information about a single sample point used for monitoring ground-water quality. There is a total of 15 Quick Apps web parts on this page.

Figure 3: Classification of soil samples.

This page is used for classification of soil samples in connection with a large remediation project in Stockholm. Over 4300 environmental samples have been taken so far, and each soil sample is classified based on a number of different criteria. The page shows results for a single soil sample and has 14 Quick Apps web parts.

Figure 4: Battery status for all projects.

This page shows the battery status for all 23 projects where automatic loggers are used to collect data. As the batteries become discharged the data-loggers performance will become erratic and eventually stop. Since some of the projects are far away from the office it’s important to keep track of the discharge rate and when new batteries are needed. On this page there are only five Dell web parts, but the one is shown 23 times, the colorful one shown once for each project.

Figure 5: Geotechnical monitoring (inclinometers).

This page illustrates various uses of the Custom Display of the List View web parts. We get a lot of freedom related to what we show and how we show it. We can e.g. to show a single list item with our own lay-out (project information at the top), we can display multiple items horizontally instead of vertically (the next two web parts), or we can use information from the current list as input parameters for other web parts/applications. In the example below one chart is generated for each item (sample point) in a list.

Stockholm, August 17, 2011

Kim Forchhammer
Golder Associates AB