Persistent’s experience with Project Siena


This week we welcome Microsoft Partner Persistent Systems to share their experiences with Project Siena.

In this post we take a look at how Persistent has been using the capabilities of Microsoft Project Siena to enhance its existing business interactions.

Persistent is a global company specializing in software product development and technology services. For more than 20 years, we've partnered closely with pioneering start-ups, leading enterprises and the world's largest technology brands helping them accelerate innovation, time to market and enterprise transformation. Persistent’s customers benefit from the industry’s best and brightest software engineers and technology consultants whose expertise spans from niche technologies, to the most advanced next generation Big Data & Analytics, Cloud, Social and Mobile technologies. Our 7,800+ team members share a passion for pushing the limits of the technology frontier and an unwavering commitment to quality, efficiency and innovation.

Persistent has been involved with Project Siena from its inception and has built quite a few apps with its Rapid Application Development approach. Microsoft has also chosen Persistent as one of the partners to conduct workshops on behalf of Microsoft and spread the reach of Windows 8 app development using Siena.

Siena is indeed a breakthrough technology that enables users with very basic technical skills to quickly build applications with rich visuals, filled with intelligence and functionality. With Siena, Windows 8 apps no longer have to go through the rigorous process of Software Development Life Cycle. You can connect to an Excel data source based in your SkyDrive account (or use local files), SharePoint, REST, Azure or RSS feeds. Images, News, Video and Web data from Bing search can be used on the fly. Similarly translation API from Microsoft can be used for creating translation or speech apps. The possibilities are endless. The applications built using Microsoft Project Siena can take advantage of features offered by many new age mobile devices like touch input, hand writing recognition, camera, voice, etc. and connect to popular social platforms using REST APIs.

What does it take to make a great Siena App?

  • Have an idea for a custom app
  • Get familiar with the Siena Workspace
  • Gather your data
    • Business data (Excel, SharePoint etc.)
    • Media (Images, Music, Videos)
  • Learn about Excel Expressions
  • Plan your app layout
  • Build the app – Connect the visuals and its behavior
  • Know how an app is deployed/published and you are all set

We conducted few Siena workshops on behalf of Microsoft where attendees comprised of people in roles of Designer, IT Managers, Sales, Business owners or Decision makers. They were excited at the idea of building Windows app without prior experience or programming background. Everyone had a Windows 8.1 device. We started with demo of few apps to showcase the capabilities of Siena like the one we built for Xbox Music Library. The application presents the data from Xbox music library (music.xboxlive.com) exposed via REST API. The application provides a preview capability whereby users can listen to track previews (audio streaming from music.xboxlive.com).

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The app uses Microsoft Translator API for language support. It even allows the user to post his activities and likes to Facebook.

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Siena apps caught everyone’s attention and they were eager to get started. We made them familiar with Siena interface and acquainted them with various visuals. Adding screens, visuals, navigating between screens, connecting data sources, displaying data ………. it was all so easy for the users. They were excited with the new acquired freedom of being able to develop apps on their own schedule, with peers. The only help needed from IT was in generating WADL files (a new tool is now available for WADL generation in alpha release) and in formulating Excel expressions. During brainstorming session, participants came up with brilliant ideas where Siena apps could help their org excel.

Similar workshop was held within our own organization. We randomly selected and trained 50 personnel from different verticals. As they got used to building Sienna Apps, they in turn trained others and apps started flowing. Library staff quickly built Persistent Enterprise Library app using simple REST based interfaces of Persistent Enterprise App Server (PEAS)

Sales and Marketing teams have built Siena apps to showcase Persistent’s offerings. Pre-sales team is actively using it for rapid prototyping of customer products. One app that our presales team built during engagement discussions was for a company in Real Estate business.  They required a mobile app which could help their associates in showcasing property information. Siena came handy in building the prototype where users could search properties using zip code, city or address and quickly get the property listing. Screenshot of the visually rich app is given below:

Project Siena presents countless options for building Windows 8 apps. It greatly reduce the efforts required to deliver high quality enterprise applications that mash-up the data available from different systems.

Microsoft Partners can use Siena in pre-sales engagements to include apps easily and cost effectively in early sales conversations with customers. They can even train commercial customers on using the tool.  Customers creating apps with Siena increase their need for additional value added services provided by partner such as hosting, data services and mobility solutions.

If you are looking for providing value added services for your partners and customers, Project Siena is here to help – Low investment with high returns and promising future!


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