A list of feature requests

I downloaded the demo of Ignition to see if it would be a good fit for my company. We’ve been using RsView since 2000 and it’s always served us well, but just lately we’ve been running into some limitations of what it’s capable of/designed to do. I haven’t decided yet if these limitations are a big enough deal to change to a different system, or if we can design around them. With the exception of these minor limitations, It’s a very solid program.

After installing Ignition, the first thing I decided to do was to recreate one of our screens. I had a Word document open as I was working and every time I thought of something like a feature request or something I didn’t like, I wrote it down. My first impression so far of the Vision designer is, I’m not really blown away. Comparing it to the first time I tried FactorySQL, where I almost fell backwards out of my chair because it was so incredibly well made, this experience was a little less mind blowing. I kept feeling like the designer was fighting me. I’d finally get something looking the way I wanted and then one thing would get messed up and I’d have to delete everything and start over. The program doesn’t feel robust. It took me about 4 hours to recreate about 1/8 of this test screen. There are also some pretty severe deficiencies in the program’s abilities that I feel are deal breakers at this point. Features that I love so much about RsView, are just completely missing here, or you need to enter in a bunch of code to make it work. Overall I’d say the way you’ve set up the designer works great for quick demos, but when trying to make a solid, well built, detailed screen, it’s flimsy.

So without further ado, here is my current list.

  • Zoom controls while editing windows in designer. I just saw that this will possibly be a feature of the next release, but it sounded like your application of a zoom control was going to be limited. I want to be able to zoom into the screen I’m building so I can get every little detail just right.
  • Auto label assigned to numeric display (like in Access forms).
  • A much simpler way to change text and color of a label depending on the state of a bit. In RsView this is done graphically, no programming involved. You can have advanced features if you need more, but a simple Red if 1, Green if 0, graphical choice would make things so much easier.
  • Edit label font directly from the window instead of having to go to the property sheet.
  • When copying and pasting items, do not copy the name, blank it. Having no name is better than naming something completely wrong with a “_1” after it.
  • Edit windows in floating mode, or see the screen in its full size. Requiring me to scroll side to side and up and down is very time consuming. I’ve got two monitors, let me use them. I don’t want to have to constantly rearrange panels
  • Only allow end users to switch windows by clicking a navigation button.
  • Make design changes to a project “offline” and then apply the changes when the machine is inactive.
  • Prevent operators from closing Ignition and getting into Windows.
  • Disable CRL+ALT+DEL while a project is running.
  • Memory tags – tags that only hold their value inside the memory of the program but do not affect any real-world PLC addresses. These can be used as temporary tags or for visibility inside the program.

Every single feature request I listed here, with the exception of auto labeling, was in RsView 10 years ago. I can understand if you’re trying to go in a different direction from Rockwell, I appreciate that and encourage it. But simple things like choosing the color of a box based on the value of a tag in a simple graphical user interface, without typing in ANY code, should be extremely doable. Certainly something programmed in the late 90’s shouldn’t be difficult to recreate in 2010.

Eh, that’s more a matter of personal preference … either way you’re going to be renaming it … appending text or a number is usually just an enforcement of a unique name constraint.

Check out Client Tags

Sorry you weren’t impressed. I’ll be the first to admit that our visual designing abilities could be improved, and indeed, that is the plan. Let me try to address your points individually.

[quote=“SonicClang”]- Zoom controls while editing windows in designer. I just saw that this will possibly be a feature of the next release, but it sounded like your application of a zoom control was going to be limited. I want to be able to zoom into the screen I’m building so I can get every little detail just right.[/quote]Yes, zooming would be extremely useful. We’re quite aware of this.

[quote=“SonicClang”]- Auto label assigned to numeric display (like in Access forms).[/quote]I suppose this isn’t a bad idea, although I’ve personally never liked that feature of Access - it always seemed odd to have these two controls “glued” together, especially when moving/resizing, which one do you grab? Anyhow this doesn’t seem like a major deal either way.

[quote=“SonicClang”]- A much simpler way to change text and color of a label depending on the state of a bit. In RsView this is done graphically, no programming involved. You can have advanced features if you need more, but a simple Red if 1, Green if 0, graphical choice would make things so much easier.[/quote]Property binding number-to-color isn’t simple? What kind of programming were you doing? If you missed property-binding, I can understand your frustration…

[quote=“SonicClang”]- Edit label font directly from the window instead of having to go to the property sheet.[/quote]Yes, this would be nice, for sure.

[quote=“SonicClang”]- When copying and pasting items, do not copy the name, blank it. Having no name is better than naming something completely wrong with a “_1” after it.[/quote]I suppose, although this seems nit-picky and subjective. I can hear the roars of protest now: “What a pain - it makes me choose a name for each component - I’m just trying to make a screen fast quit bothering me with names.”

[quote=“SonicClang”]- Edit windows in floating mode, or see the screen in its full size. Requiring me to scroll side to side and up and down is very time consuming. I’ve got two monitors, let me use them. I don’t want to have to constantly rearrange panels[/quote]You can float the panels and put them on the 2nd monitor, or auto-hide them.

[quote=“SonicClang”]- Only allow end users to switch windows by clicking a navigation button.[/quote]Not sure what you mean here. As opposed to what?

[quote=“SonicClang”]- Make design changes to a project “offline” and then apply the changes when the machine is inactive. [/quote]Yes, I agree something like this would be nice. We’ve had various ideas about the best way to do this.

[quote=“SonicClang”]- Prevent operators from closing Ignition and getting into Windows.[/quote]You can run in FSE (full-screen exclusive) mode and remove all close buttons, but read on…

[quote=“SonicClang”]- Disable CRL+ALT+DEL while a project is running.[/quote]I’d love to support this, but without getting into writing our own keyboard drivers (tough to do on a web-launched client), Windows just doesn’t let us do this. Add OS-independence and this is definitely not going to fly. You say RsView could do this 10 years ago - but can it run on Windows 7?

[quote=“SonicClang”]- Memory tags – tags that only hold their value inside the memory of the program but do not affect any real-world PLC addresses. These can be used as temporary tags or for visibility inside the program.[/quote]These exist - see Client tags and DB tags.

Carl, it’s not that I wasn’t totally unimpressed, I was just giving my initial impression. Take it somewhat with a grain of salt because it was the first time in over 10 years that I’ve tried a different program than RsView. I was fully expecting someone to reply telling me that some things I was asking for were there, only I didn’t know the terminology.

  • So zoom controls, are they going to be added at some point?

  • Auto labeling is not by any means a must-have feature. I was just thinking it could be a time saver. If you don’t like how Access “glues” the two pieces together, maybe you could make Ignition auto label, but have the two pieces separated. Just an idea.

  • I’ll read up on property binding. Maybe if I give you an example of one thing I was trying to do it might help. I have a label in one section of the screen that under normal circumstances reads “Temperatures”. If the master temperature alarm goes to 1, I’d like this label to turn red and read “Temperature Alarm”. I’m assuming this is possible in Ignition, but I can’t figure it out. I just tried a couple things and messed up my label and undo is grayed out, so now I have to delete the label and start over. why would undo not be available?

  • So editing label text directly from the screen will be added in the future?

  • The name of an item when copying and pasting is a minor thing. I’m sure as time moves on I’d get better at house keeping stuff like naming everything correctly as I create the screen. Is the name only for the designer to keep things straight, or does the name actually do something?

  • Floating the panels to the second monitor… I don’t know why I didn’t think of that.

  • By “only allow end users to switch windows by clicking a navigation button” I mean, one screen is displayed at a time, and they can’t switch windows unless I place a button on the screen to let them do so, and only if they have appropriate security. It seems like by default you let the end-users do whatever they want, like close/minimize/resize screens.

  • The ability to make changes to a project offline is an absolutely, 100%, a must have before I could think of moving to Ignition. My company is under FDA regulation. We need to write change controls and have them approved before changes can be made. Any changes need to be fully tested before being put into production. Our machines aren’t down that often, so we make all our changes in a test bench environment, then when they’re down we apply and test the changes. I suppose in a lot of industries, real-time updates to changes would be great, but not here.

  • In FSE mode, is there a system command you can assign a button that quits the project? I turned on this feature and the only way I could quit the project was by killing Ignition through the task manager. It was quite embarrassing :slight_smile:

  • I do not believe the version of RsView we’re running can run on Windows 7, but that doesn’t matter to us. Over half of our production computers are still running Windows 2000, the other ones just recently moved to XP. As far as our operators know, the screens they see in RsView ARE the operating system. Keeping up with the latest and greatest OS on our production computers is almost no concern to us. I should mention that RsView actually isn’t the thing that disables CTRL+ALT+DEL, it’s a program from Rockwell named Desktop Lock. Not only does it disable C+A+D but also makes the computer boot up with only a menu you build with only the programs you want to be able to run. If by some chance the operator was able to close RsView, this is all they’d see. It doesn’t even look like Windows at that point.

  • I believe client tags are exactly what I’m looking for. What I need to figure out is if I can run a command like “set Client\SP1 Tags\SP1”.

Thanks for your reply Carl. Please keep in mind that some of the other features of Ignition are incredible, like the charts and tables. Those are what I think of as modern tools, seamlessly integrated into the program. The limitation I was referring to in RsView has to do with displaying data from a SQL database either in a chart or data sheet view. It simply doesn’t do this. I’m forcing it to through an Active-X plugin and using Microsoft’s Office 2003 Web Components tools. But it’s buggy and very unfriendly. Then if I want to print the charts at the end of a run, I need to have RsView open an Excel file, and have a macro in the Excel file that tells it to print and quit. This is garbage. It works, but it’s buggy and prone to errors.

There are two easy ways to do this:

  1. Styles. Drive styles via your master temperature alarm tag, and add the text and background colors. Make sure the label is configured to be opaque so that the background color takes effect.
  2. Binding. Bind the background color directly to the master temperature alarm tag. Bind the text to an expression involving the temperature alarm tag like:
if( {Alarms/MasterTemp} == 1, "Temperature Alarm", "Temperatures")

Perhaps spending a few minutes reading the User Manual would be helpful.

[quote=“SonicClang”]- So editing label text directly from the screen will be added in the future?[/quote]Yes as part of 7.3

[quote=“SonicClang”]- The name of an item …[snip][/quote]The names are important to distinguish components from their siblings.

[quote=“SonicClang”]- By “only allow end users to switch windows by clicking a navigation button” I mean…[snip][/quote]I think you should check out the Example Project, or read up on the Typical Navigation Strategy in the user manual…

[quote=“SonicClang”]- The ability to make changes to a project offline is an absolutely, 100%, a must have before I could think of moving to Ignition. My company is under FDA regulation…[snip][/quote]Lots of our customers are under FDA regulation. They typically have copies of the main project that they use for development, or they’ll have a development Gateway and a production Gateway, and they only migrate the project from development to production when it has been approved. That said, we do have plans for having “development” and “production” versions of each project.

[quote=“SonicClang”]- In FSE mode, is there a system command you can assign a button that quits the project? I turned on this feature and the only way I could quit the project was by killing Ignition through the task manager. It was quite embarrassing :slight_smile:[/quote]Yes, there is. Simply searching for “quit client” in the user manual will show you that there is the system.util.exit command.

[quote=“SonicClang”]… RsView actually isn’t the thing that disables CTRL+ALT+DEL, it’s a program from Rockwell named Desktop Lock. [/quote]I believe that you can purchase programs like this from other software vendors if this is a necessity for you. Understand that our program distribution architecture with our web-launched clients prohibits this, and is quite different than RsView. We have no intentions of making ours more like RsView’s client distribution architecture.

[quote=“SonicClang”]- I believe client tags are exactly what I’m looking for. What I need to figure out is if I can run a command like “set Client\SP1 Tags\SP1”.[/quote]Take a look at the [tt]system.tag.*[/tt] functions.

Oh come on, user manuals are for wussies :slight_smile:

I saw the post about zooming, but was unfamiliar with the “long-awaited 2D drawing feature” and what that actually means.

So you’re saying that if I did lock out Windows through some means, your java application wouldn’t load?

I’m quite glad about that actually. We don’t like having to pay $5,000 for 1,500 tags, per client. It’s practically robbery. We’re currently building two new machines, each will require two computers. Just the software for these two machines is going to cost $20,000. That’s insanity. Plus RsView can’t do the things I mentioned, like pulling data from SQL into charts.

No, lock out windows all you want. Or run a stripped-down Linux so that all they can do is run our app. I’m saying that it is technically infeasible for us to build any sort of windows lock-out mechanism into our client application, beyond what we already do (full-screen exclusive, no exit button).

Got it, thanks for the clarifying that.

Not to cause any problems, but to keep users from using the CTR-ALT-DELETE combination in RSView32, isn’t this actually done through “DeskLock”. This is a separate application that is part of the extension pack. You could actually use that with Ignition. Of course, Rockwell may not like that idea. :smiley:

Darren