KB2800200 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 are 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 .NET Windows client that communicates to the server using web services (HTTP/HTTPS).
  • PIAB uses XML for configuration files, data structure transfer and intermediate file storage.
  • Reports are created using XML coverted via XSL to HTML and MHTML documents.


PIAB contains these main elements:

  • An ASP.NET web browser application called 'Enterprise Hub'
  • 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 client

Client and Server Prerequisites


  • Windows 2003 Server
  • The latest .NET framework (the system is based on .NET 2.0)
  • IIS with ASP.NET Enabled
  • SQL Server (2000, 2005 or 2008, Expression Edition or a full edition)
  • The Windows Indexing Service (used for searching)


  • Windows XP or Vista
  • The latest .NET framework (the system is based on .NET 2.0)


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 'Server Setup Patterns' below.

What is the web browser application?
The 'Enterprise Hub' web browser application contains a subset of the full client functionality for everyday team use.

What is the full client?
The full client 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 client?
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 'Enterprise Hub'. Because it is a files-only, .NET based client, it is lightweight to deploy.

Does it integrate with Active Directory?
Yes, 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.

More Information

When planning your installation you may find these helpful:

KB2800160 Architecture DiagramArchitecture Diagram
KB2410210 Server Install Quick ChecklistA short checklist of pre and post-install questions plus a quick test list.
KB2800220 Server Setup PatternsOptions for placing the main elements.
KB2410110 Using Active Directory Authentication
KB2310065 Using LDAP to Create PIAB Users
How to implement single sign-on if you are using PIAB in an AD environemnt.
KB2410032 Client DeploymentOptions for deploying the Windows client.
KB2800040 Customising the Look and FeelHow to modify the application to fit in with your organisation's image.
KB2310030 BackupWhich parts to include in your backup scheme.

2_8/kb2800200.txt · Last modified: 2017/06/22 13:13 (external edit)

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