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Create a Compelling UI that Brings IoT Data to Life: Webcast Replay + Q&A

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Create a Compelling UI that Brings IoT Data to Life: Webcast Replay + Q&A

ThingWorx UI Webinar Part 1

 

The data in your industrial IoT application is only valuable if it tells a story. As a developer, you need to consider the logical connections between graphical elements and business data and determine how users want to consume the information. With the Mashup Builder in ThingWorx, you can rapidly create a custom visualization that displays data from your connected devices. These easy-to-configure widgets deliver real-time data functionality at your fingertips - streamlining, processing, and displaying valuable information for your application users.

 

In this video, you'll learn how to create immersive, interactive visualizations by utilizing dynamic charts and graphs in your GUI. ThingWorx technical engineer Jason Wyatt demonstrates how to:

  • Create a UI with ThingWorx Composer and Mashup Builder
  • Incorporate visual displays that highlight business data requirements
  • Supply data to components in your Mashup leveraging pre-built widgets and services
  • Implement the Time Series Chart, Pie Chart, Open Street Map, Location Picker, Auto Refresh, Textbox, and Button widgets

Watch the recording above, and download this sample Mashup containing all the data and entities shared in the video.

 

Q&A

 

We didn’t have time to get to all of the questions during the live webcast, but we’ve answered them here on our blog. Have any additional questions? Please leave us a comment.

THIS UI CAPABILITY CLEARLY IS USEFUL FOR PROTOTYPING. AT WHAT SCALE AND / OR COMPLEXITY DO YOU RECOMMEND USING TRADITIONAL PROGRAMMING METHODS?

The ThingWorx platform does not require users to utilize the Mashup Builder to create a frontend for their application. Some PTC customers use ThingWorx for the backend and rely on a traditional HTML team to design a custom UI. In that scenario, ThingWorx provides the Edge connectivity and backend storage/organization/business-logic. But, that said, the Mashup Builder can be used to develop production-level sites, especially if you customize State and Style definitions and create a Master mashup.


WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN GETIMPLEMENTINGTHINGS VS. GETIMPLEMENTINGTHINGSWITHDATA VS. QUERYPROPERTYHISTORY?

GetImplementingThings provides a list of all Things instantiated from a particular Thing Template. GetImplementingThingsWithData provides the current property values associated with the Things. QueryPropertyHistory provides historical Property values.


WHAT ARE THE POSSIBLE SCENARIOS WHERE SERVICEINVOKECOMPLETED CAN BE TRIGGERED?

ServiceInvokeCompleted is an Event that occurs when a Mashup Data Service completes. We recommend you use it in any situation where timing is important for proper application execution. For instance, in the application created for the webinar, I wanted QueryPropertyHistory to run after SetProperties was complete. Therefore, I used ServiceInvokeCompleted to trigger the second Service.


IS THERE ANY WAY TO DISPLAY TWO INFO TABLE DATA IN SINGLE GRID?

This isn't possible by default, but as a workaround you could make a custom Service to combine two InfoTables into one; and then you could apply the combined data to the Grid Widget.


CAN I RESIZE MY WIDGETS DURING RUNTIME?

You can change any Widget Property at runtime that accepts an incoming data-bind. You can tell which Widget Properties accept dynamic data by looking at the Property itself in the bottom-left section of the Mashup Builder. If the Property has a left arrow pointing at the Property name, then you can bind it to dynamic data and change it during runtime. For Widget Properties where this isn't possible (such as some Widgets' Width and Height), you can apply custom CSS.


IS THERE AN UNDO FEATURE AVAILABLE ON MASHUP BUILDER?

Currently, no, but I believe Undo is a feature request on the R&D radar.


HOW DO YOU GET MASHUP INFORMATION UP TO THE MASTER MASHUP?

You can pass information between two Mashups when one Mashup pushes a change down to a Thing, then the other Mashup may read that data from that same Thing. Additionally, Mashup Parameters and Session Variables can act like Global Variables that are accessible across multiple Mashups.


DOES THE OPAQUE OR MAKING BG COLOR TRANSPARENT WORK?

You may set certain Widgets' style in such a way that the Widget itself is visible, but the background of the Widget is transparent.


CAN YOU SHOW AGAIN HOW YOU ADDED THE TEXTBOX TO THE PROPERTIES OF SERVICES?

You can view the recording of the webinar to see how I made an invisible TextBox set the MaxItems Property of the QueryPropertyHistory Mashup Data Service. I used an invisible TextBox to get a static number, then applied that number to the MaxItems Parameter of QueryPropertyHistory in order to change the Service's functionality.


WHAT IS THE PURPOSE FOR SETPROPERTIES?

SetProperties is one of several Mashup Data Services that sends information from the Mashup to the backend.


DO WE HAVE FILTERS ON THE PIE CHART FOR CHANGING THE VIEW WHEN A VALUE IS SELECTED IN THE FILTER?

Yes, there are several operations you may perform when a section of a Pie Chart is selected. I had originally intended to show how you can change the displayed color when you select a particular section of the Pie Chart, but I unfortunately ran out of time. In addition, all three of the display Widgets were tied together: when I selected a section of the Pie Chart, the same piece of data was selected on the Map and Time Series (and vice versa for clicking on the other two). You can import the sample Mashup into your Composer to view the configuration settings.


IS THERE WAY TO SET PROPERTIES AND GET DATA THROUGH EMAIL USING THINGWORX?

Yes, there are several ways to push information to the ThingWorx backend. For instance, you could have an entirely external process which strips data from an e-mail and then makes a REST call to ThingWorx to archive the data or trigger some Service. And, yes, ThingWorx supports sending and receiving e-mail through an Extension which you may download for free from the ThingWorx Marketplace.


CAN THE MAXITEMS OF THE QUERYPROPERTYHISTORY BE APPLIED TO A COMBO BOX / LIST, WHICH CAN BE SELECTED FROM THE MASHUP SCREEN ONLINE?

If I'm understanding correctly, you're asking whether or not the MaxItems Parameter of the QueryPropertyHistory Mashup Data Service can be set dynamically. The answer is yes. For instance, that TextBox which I made invisible could have been left visible and given a Label of "Max Items to Display". It would still be tied to the QueryPropertyHistory Service in the same way. But when the TextBox has a new value entered, then that would change the Parameter configuration of QueryPropertyHistory to show whatever had been entered. You would still have to figure out how to call the QueryPropertyHistory Service again. Changing a Parameter just sets up how the Service will behave the next time it is called.


DO YOU HAVE TIPS FOR MAKING A PRINT-FRIENDLY MASHUP?

My only real recommendation would be to use a Static Mashup with a specific resolution (to ensure that everything fit on the page while still looking good), while also setting the Style of various Widgets such that everything was in gray-scale (or something similar) that would be easy on your printer's ink cartridge.


HOW WELL DO THE STYLE DEFINITIONS AND CSS WORK WITH TWITTER'S BOOTSTRAP?

I'm unfamiliar with Twitter's Bootstrap, but I do know that with Style Definitions and the new CSS functionality, you have a lot of control over exactly how your Mashup looks. So you should be able to configure your Mashup to comply if Twitter has some particular requirements.


WHY DO WIDGETS NOT STICK TO THE MASHUP WHEN YOU DRAG THEM INTO A BUSY UI? I HAVE HAD WIDGETS 'FLY' BACK TO THE WIDGET LIST AND HAVE BEEN UNABLE TO GET THEM TO STICK.

Unfortunately, that's a known issue. It has something to do with the fact that you're not allowed to drag-and-drop a new Widget on top of an existing Widget. Which is a little strange considering that you explicitly *ARE* allowed to stack Widgets on top of one another after they've been placed in the central Canvas areas. I believe that R&D is investigating.


CAN YOU EXPLAIN THE DIFFERENT OPTIONS FOR MASHUP?

I believe that this question has something to do with the options in the pop-up when you first create a new Mashup. A Responsive Mashup grows and shrinks to match the viewing-resolution, while Static stays at the resolution you specify. The other options, (Page vs. Template vs. Shape), have to do with a specific setup where you have a Mashup-in-Mashup design. For instance, you could subdivide a Responsive Mashup just as I did in the webinar, and then have one of those sub-sections be an entirely different Mashup. Template and Shape Mashups are used when you have the scenario I describe above with Mashup-in-Mashup, but you want the sub-Mashup to change based off some other metric, such as the selection of a Thing listed in a Grid Widget. You could use some Mashup Data Service like GetImplementingThings. That would return a list of every Thing instantiated from a Thing Template. You could then have a Grid which displays a list of every Thing returned by the GetImplementingThings Service. You could then have a Template Mashup stored within every Thing instantiated from that Template. Whenever a Thing is selected from the Grid, it displays the Template Mashup for that specific Thing.


HOW DO YOU HIDE TOOLBAR WHICH ALLOW USER TO SELECT "SHOW/HIDE LOG", "SHOW/HIDE LOG", "RELOAD", ETC. ON YOUR MASHUP SCREEN?

Many Widgets have a ""Visible"" Property which may be dynamically set via some other criteria. For instance, you could have a Checkbox Widget, which is great for Boolean values like the Visible Property. You could tie the State Property of the Checkbox Widget to a different Widget's Visible Property. When the Checkbox is checked, the other Widget is visible. When the Checkbox is unchecked, then the other Widget becomes invisible.


I WOULD LIKE TO KNOW THE CHALLENGES IN RESPONSIVE MASHUPS VS. STATIC MASHUP DEVELOPMENT. ALSO NEED THE LIST OF WIDGETS NOT SUPPORTED BY THE RESPONSIVE MASHUPS. WHAT IS NEW IN THINGWORX 8.2 FOR RESPONSIVE MASHUPS?

The main challenge of a Responsive Mashup is that it's almost necessary to test the Mashup at each resolution that you believe your users may be viewing the page. Responsive does a good job of stretching and shrinking… but this can also lead to undesirable situations where you have scroll bars because the viewing-resolution is too small for everything to fit. The main challenge of a Static Mashup is that it really only works at the specific resolution you set. If you have a 300x200 px Static Mashup, it will essentially be unreadable on a 4k display. As for a list, some Widgets *AREN'T* Responsive. The TextBox Widget will not grow and shrink as the viewing-resolution changes, for instance, but you can still use a TextBox in a Responsive Mashup. The big new item for Mashups in 8.2 was the inclusion of CSS and the Collections Widget. Either or both may be used in any Mashup, regardless of whether it's Responsive or Static.