Project Management Central Version 1.8: Focus on Performance

We just released version 1.8 of PM Central™, Bamboo’s project management solution for SharePoint. This is the eighth update to PM Central since we introduced the product in 2009. We’ve been steadily adding new features based on customer feedback and will continue to make improvements and add new functionality throughout 2010 and beyond.

One of the key areas of focus in this release has been on performance and page load times. What’s the issue? One of the key features of PM Central is centralized reporting of project status, risks, issues, etc. PM Central collects data from eachSharePoint Project Management individual project site and “rolls up” this information to provide a comprehensive dashboard reflecting activities across the organization. This is something that Bamboo is very good at. Our List Rollup Web Part is the premier solution for data aggregation in SharePoint. Over the years, we’ve invested heavily in maximizing the performance of this data collection process. We’re on the cutting edge here, and pushing the limits of SharePoint to deliver the most horsepower possible.

That being said, there are many factors that can affect the processing time of the data aggregation processes. Everything from obvious factors like the number of individual project sites and the size of tasks lists, all the way to hardware configuration can be a drag on the speed of these processes. To address the potential impact on the user experience, we needed to separate data presentation from the data collection processes. Fortunately, there is an obvious and fairly elegant technology available to accomplish this — AJAX. (i.e. Asychronous Javascript & XML) In this release, the application will render the SharePoint Web page (ASPX) immediately, loading individual Web Parts and data as they are available.

The results look great. Benchmarking in the lab shows us a 117% improvement in page load times for key parts of the UI. Even when these improvements are measured in milliseconds, the impact on the individual user experience can be the difference between snappy and sluggish.

As we have engaged with customers regarding the performance of PM Central™, we have noticed that many of our customers are running a large number of project sites with limited hardware support. We recommend that you follow Microsoft Best Practices for Scalability and Performance to ensure that you are meeting the minimum requirements for a successful SharePoint environment.

Current users of PM Central are encouraged to upgrade to version 1.8 at your convenience and reminded that there is no cost for doing so. Thank you for using PM Central™ and, as always, we sincerely appreciate your feedback and suggestions. Many of your great comments will be implemented in our next major release, v2.0 scheduled to ship this summer. Please stay tuned!

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