Everything you need to implement ThingWorx Navigate for PLM data

Plan Integrations

After you identify the data that users need to access in ThingWorx Navigate, understand where that data lives and why you need it. Then determine the best way to integrate systems to retrieve the data.

Before you begin, complete these steps:

01. Gather data requirements

If you're implementing out-of-the-box apps, you do not need to gather data requirements. The app is already designed to access the data required from Windchill.

To plan integrations for a custom app, gather data requirements first. Use your design document and wireframes to understand information you need.

Document the following:

  • The data you need
    • Note the specific pieces of data or metrics you need to build the app for your use case.
  • Where that data currently lives (Windchill, a third-party system, a .csv file, etc.)
  • Who currently has access to that data
  • How often data needs to be updated
    • How frequently should the data refresh in order to be useful? Keep in mind that the higher the refresh frequency, the more transactions your infrastructure will need to support.
  • What format the data should take (a number, integer, string, Boolean, etc.)
  • How the data should be displayed to the user (a table, chart, etc.)
    • Does the data need to be transformed or aggregated to be useful?
  • Whether the connection needs to be unidirectional or bidirectional
    • Does ThingWorx need to be able to pass information back?
    • If so, what happens once data is passed back?
  • Why you need the data
    • It can be tempting to ask for every data point available, but that often leads to an overload of data. For each piece of data you're requesting, make sure you know exactly why you need it to accomplish your use case.
    • Categorize each piece of data to help understand if you need it.
      • Actionable data typically triggers some sort of action or response. This data tends to be acquired and published near real time.
      • Informational data represents various properties of your products or assets and typically changes infrequently.
      • Historical data is used to represent rends or maintain a short-term record of information and events.
      • Cold storage data is often used for data mining and analytics purposes and does not need to be accessed or seen often.

Understand what data you need and why you need it to help you have more effective conversations as you determine how you will retrieve data. Be prepared to rework requirements as you decide what's most important and what's possible.

02. Determine how systems will connect

How you connect your systems will depend on your use case, data requirements, existing systems and protocols, security, infrastructure, and network. For example, you may be able to use Windchill REST Services or you may need to build custom connections.

ThingWorx Navigate 9.2+ introduced a new way to view and configure data from multiple systems. ThingWorx Flow connects Windchill and other third-party systems with ThingWorx Navigate to combine and view data seamlessly, configure dataflows, and create custom Navigate apps without creating duplicate information. You can install ThingWorx Flow as part of the ThingWorx Navigate installation or upgrade process (see Install and Configure ThingWorx for more information or visit the Help Center). Once installed, you can combine ThingWorx Flow connectors for Windchill to third-party systems using Navigate UI components to speed up app development.

To decide on the best approach, have detailed conversations with those who have a deep understanding of the specific data and systems you need to connect to. This might include IT partners, system admins, or developers. If possible, involve someone with extensive ThingWorx knowledge and someone familiar with your Windchill instance.

As you work through this decision, document which data sources you need to connect to and how you plan to connect to them. Compile and share this with the project team. How you integrate systems will impact the skill sets you need, timeline, costs, and possibly your infrastructure.

Depending on the system you're connecting with, PTC has services to help. Find more information in the services linked below.  

Recommended Resources

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