KB0000200 Overview for System Administrators


This article is a brief overview of the PROJECT in a box (PIAB) application for System Administrators and implementers, assuming a basic understanding of Microsoft technologies. It answers the common questions that we have been asked by IT staff when planning their install.

What does it do?

PIAB is a team system for creating, editing and reporting on project documentation. Projects are created from templates that hold the project structure and the files needed to run the project. The project files are typically Microsoft Office files (e.g. Word files, spreadsheets etc.) but can be any type of file. The project is navigated using point-and-click process diagrams. All these features can be tailored to suit your organisation using the tools provided.

Technologies Used

  • PROJECT in a box (PIAB) is a Microsoft .NET client-server system that uses ASP.NET, SQL Server and Web Services. Sever installation is much like installing any ASP.NET/SQL Server application.
  • There is a Windows Desktop App that communicates to the server using web services (HTTP/HTTPS).
  • There is a Browser App that runs from the same server.
  • PIAB uses XML for configuration files, data structure transfer and intermediate file storage.
  • Reports are created using XML converted via XSL to HTML, MHTML and Word documents.


PIAB contains these main elements:

  • An ASP.NET web browser application called the 'Browser App'
  • An ASP.NET web services application called 'piabws'
  • A SQL Server database
  • A 'document folder' for user files that can be placed on the server, or a remote share
  • Project templates that you can customise for your type of projects
  • A .NET Windows Desktop App

Client and Server Prerequisites


  • Windows Server (All versions from 2003)
  • .NET framework 4.5.1
  • IIS with ASP.NET Enabled
  • SQL Server (Express Edition or access to a full instance)
  • Windows Search enabled (or the Windows Indexing Service on older servers) for searching files.


  • Windows 10, 8.1, 7
  • .NET framework 4.5.1

More Information


Where are the project files held?
PIAB allows users to check out, edit & check in project files. These are stored in a single NFTS folder or network share, rather than as BLOBs in the database.

What is in the SQL Database?
The 'piab' SQL Server database holds the structure of the projects, and some descriptive information about projects, the user security/access model and audit trail logs.

Can I install PIAB on separate SQL Server, IIS and file store nodes?
Yes, please see KB0000220 Server Setup Patterns

What is the Browser App?
The Browser App contains a subset of the full client functionality for everyday team use. It uses standard DHTML (JavaScript, CSS, DOM, AJAX) only and is compatible with html5.

What is the Windows Desktop App?
The Windows App (AKA 'Client') is a .NET program that has additional administration and reporting features, and has smoother interaction with the user's desktop e.g. integration with Microsoft Office and Outlook.

How to deploy the Windows Desktop App?
The PIAB client can be deployed using a conventional setup.exe program, or your own distribution software, and also from a “click and run” style download from a page in the browser app. Because it is a files-only, .NET based client, it is lightweight to deploy.

Does it integrate with Active Directory?
Yes. Firstly PIAB can be configured to use Integrated Windows Authentication in IIS, to provide single-sign on (when install on your premises). PIAB can also be configured to use its own authentication using username/password but we recommend Integrated Windows Authentication in your production environment.

Secondly, PIAB users can be imported from your AD using LDAP, in addition to other ways of bulk-importing users. See KB2410110 Using Active Directory Authentication and KB2310065 Using LDAP to Create PIAB Users.

Does it need a reporting engine?
No, PIAB uses standards-based reporting (XML, XSL, HTML) and doesn't need separate reporting software to be installed.

How to back it up?
You can use your standard tools to backup the project files and the SQL database.

How is it licenced?
The product is licenced on the server for a number of users of various types. The licence consists of a unique Customer ID (a 7-digit number) and a licence key (a Hex string). The licence is locked to the server. You have the option of licencing over the Internet when you install, or later via an application on the server or via our website.

Can I get a temporary licence for testing?
Yes, please login to your customer page on our website to get it. It is a time-limited licence that will work on any server. If you need more time, let us know and we will send you a new one.

5_4/overview_for_system_administrators.txt · Last modified: 2020/11/24 12:31 (external edit)

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