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Cloud Lessons Developing Data Solutions in the Cloud

Actian Corporation is developing a supplier performance management portal (SPM) application to enable operators in the oil and gas industry to collect, analyze, and act on performance data from their suppliers across their global supply chains. After a supplier completes a job, they enter data about that job in the SPM portal. The operator (the company for whom the service is performed) defines KPI's based on those data points. The SPM portal provides reporting to aggregate the KPI data and compare the performance of suppliers against one another, or to compare geographical or business regions against one another.

The operator uses this information in a quarterly performance review with each supplier, and the supplier can use the data to highlight their successes and find areas for improvement. During these quarterly reviews, the data needs to be presented in Microsoft PowerPoint® slides.

Actian selected Aspose.Slides for .NET to render the graphs and reports generated from the web application into PowerPoint presentations. We needed a library that would handle the following requirements:

  • Load existing PowerPoint® templates specific to each supplier.
  • Create slides programmatically from graph images rendered from Fusion Charts graphs
  • Create slides programmatically from HTML reports.

Some of the issues the Actian engineering team overcame were:

  • Fusion Charts do not export directly into an image format. They have to be rendered in the browser and have the image saved.
  • A generated PowerPoint® presentation could include a single graph or dozens of graphs and reports, which could take several minutes to render and convert into a PowerPoint® presentation. We moved the generation process to a separate process and provided a notification structure to notify the user in the browser in real time when the process was complete.
  • Rendering a report as an image did not look good, and the Aspose.Slides library doesn't provide an easy conversion from HTML to a slide. We solved that problem by building the table structure within the Aspose.Slides objects and applying the appropriate markup to the correct elements of each cell. We found that the table structure in the slide did not support any cascading or inheritance of styles as we would expect with HTML or CSS.

Some other features and constraints of interest are:
  • We implemented this solution within the Microsoft Azure® cloud environment.
  • The operator would need to regenerate the same or a similar PowerPoint® presentation every quarter with updated data. So we store the definition with the reports and graphs that should be included in the PowerPoint, and the operator can generate a new PowerPoint with up-to-date data without having to rebuild the structure.
  • Once a PowerPoint® presentation is created, users need the ability to share it with other users in the SPM portal. 

The ability to export to PowerPoint® was an important feature to support the business processes that are vital to our customers, and Aspose.Slides for .NET enabled this feature.

Note: “PowerPoint” and “Azure” are registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation.

Posted on Wednesday, September 17, 2014 5:18 PM Powerpoint , Aspose , Azure , Cloud , Libraries | Back to top

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