Edge2Web Flow Server Launch Webinar Content
This page provides content related to a webinar hosted by Edge2Web on the 1st of October 2019 entitled Announcing Edge2Web Flow Server for MindSphere! The webinar gives an overview of Edge2Web’s platform-native architecture, discusses use cases for IIoT server-side orchestration, and provides a demonstration of Edge2Web Flow Server for Siemens’ MindSphere platform. The webinar also includes a brief review of Edge2Web pricing and Flow Server promotional offers.
Note that all webinar questions are answered in full in the Q&A section beneath the webinar links.
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Webinar Questions & Answers
Yes, absolutely. A popular use case for this question is deriving machine performance metrics (e.g., uptime) from timeseries data streams and storing them with the asset. Flow Server can write raw and/or derived data to any MindSphere platform service that supports write access.
In certain situations it is necessary to perform data aggregation and/or calculations on time series data to show to users. Sometimes this work can be done dynamically in user-facing apps. In many cases, however, the amount of historical data required to derive the desired results makes dynamic processing impractical. Pre-computing and storing "derived" time series can significantly improve the performance of subsequent analysis and visualization.
Yes. Often it is necessary for a task to operate on the results of a prior task execution. Flow Server allows the output fields of a task to be used as input for the task's next execution. To do this you simply define the property of the specific fields as "input or output", and the Flow Server will automatically pass the appropriate data across task executions.
Assuming a service has been provisioned to your MindSphere IoT Value Plan and is accessible via REST, Flow Server can access that service via Edge2Web's connectivity tier. Creating an Edge2Web service connection is fast and easy, and it enables that service to be accessible to both user-facing (Director) and server-side (Flow Server) applications. Depending on how the service has been provisioned, an Edge2Web admin user may be required to provide service credentials.
Functionally, Flow Server and Visual Flow Creator (VFC) have similar objectives - allow the creation, deployment, and operation of flow-based applications that run on defined schedules. There are a few noteworthy differences between Flow Server and VFC:
- Platform Connectivity. Leveraging the Edge2Web connectivity tier, Flow Server gives server-side apps access to the full suite of MindSphere platform services. And wherever those services expose both read and write endpoints, Flow Server apps can take advantage of that bi-directionality. VFC provides access to a subset of MindSphere platform services.
- Skills Leverage. Flow Server's main developer interface is the Edge2Web flow editor, a structured diagramming tool based on a coding-by-exception model. Since Edge2Web Director also uses the flow editor as a core tool, Edge2Web developers use the same skills to build both server-side and user-facing applications. VFC is a stand-alone tool in the MindSphere portfolio.
- Product Packaging. Flow server is packaged as an add-on product to Edge2Web Director. Thus, it is not currently licensed as a stand-alone product. As mentioned above, VFC is licensed as a stand-alone product.
Yes, the Edge2Web flow editor gives you powerful testing and debugging tools:
- Developers can easily capture and load test data to simulate full lifecycle flow execution.
- The Flow editor's Log panel provides a trace of each execution step.
- The flow editor's Data panel provides a history of all data used during a flow execution.
Since the Flow Server is packaged as an add-on to Edge2Web Director, developers can also add screen steps to their flows for testing purposes. Screens will obviously not be displayed when a flow is running as a server-side task, but they are a very handy way to verify whether the flow operations are performing properly.
Edge2Web products are native to the MindSphere platform (we use the term platform-native). So to answer your question, Flow Server is fully managed by us on MindSphere. Developers access Flow Server directly from their MindSphere launchpad, build apps directly inside of their MindSphere tenants, and deploy those apps in a way that natively supports MindSphere’s identity/security model. This means that MindSphere Admins can completely control Flow Server behaviors, and that no user data ever exits MindSphere unless it is explicitly being sent to an external REST endpoint (e.g., for app integration). Although we do run a few utility services on AWS, the majority of Edge2Web's tooling and runtime services are native to MindSphere.