[FEEDBACK] Offline Mode

My question revolves around the “Offline Mode” mentioned during the Q/A section of the talk by @Carl.Gould.

I understand that the feature probably is not in our near future, 5 months between 7.0 and 7.1, but could anyone speak to the amount of data capable of being brought with the user into an offline state? I’ve got an ageing inventory system, would love to put a replacement into the hands of my field technicians, and would like to do it with Ignition. Most of the time my folks have connectivity but there are occasions when the connection is just good enough for the RTU to pass enough traffic to be functional or we’ve had to implement some sort of 900 Mhz solution because of range or topology. In those situations it would be great for the them to at least be able to see what is on their truck and assign it to a site.

Again I realize that its very early to ask this question but as we all know decisions like ripping out an inventory system and implementing a new one takes time. I think that if this would be a workable solution I could probably convince leadership to hold off and limp along for a while longer.

All the best.

1 Like

It’s definitely too early to give any sort of specifics as to what features offline mode will support. Some of the use cases we’ve kept in mind during the broader design and development of Perspective have been things like:

  • Filling out forms at remote sites, later synching them once connectivity is regained
  • Capturing images or data from barcodes/rfid/nfc to be recorded/returned to the gateway at a later time
  • Geolocation/telemetry and related activities such as tracking or logging that is later synchronized with the gateway
  • Electronic Documentation/references

To be clear: we don’t have any sort of timeline or comprehensive specification yet. We’ve been laying the groundwork, but the details are going to be influenced by a number of things, not the least of which are the kinds of use cases people want support for once you’ve had a chance to start building Perspective applications.

We’d love to hear more about what you’d require to make Perspective Offline Mode a feasible solution for your situation though. What kinds of devices would you envision using, and what sorts of activities would you need to support in these low-or-no connectivity environments?

As an example of a use case, we needed to allow users to interact with data from a large Ignition system while moving consignments of nuclear waste. Being a nuclear site we weren’t allowed to use radio, so we ended up using rugged Honeywell Dolphin 75e Android mobiles which the user puts into an Ethernet dock. Work instructions were downloaded to the device from Ignition, then when the user picks up the device they can interact with the data using a React app packaged using Cordova. The local storage was handled using the HTML5 localStorage API.

The user scans barcodes of items they are picking up, then scans them again when they drop them off, with the person receiving the items signing directly on the touchscreen. When the user docks the mobile all the movements and signatures are uploaded into the database and are accessible through the main Ignition system.

The system has worked very well but means development is spread across two different environments. Being able to implement both ends directly in the Ignition Designer would be great!

2 Likes

Great example, thanks! Curious, what kind of data were you retaining from the barcodes? Just strings? raw scan images?

They are Code 128 barcodes which contain just the ID of the item as a string. The ID is also printed on the barcode so it’s human readable as well. It’s basically just used as a way to enter data without the possibility of human error.

1 Like

Ann oil and gas use case example is what we call manual data entry.

We may have systems that are not actually on scada, but an operator rides around the field and enters data into an app at each of the sites that has equipment with no scada connection. He may take down things like tank levels, flowrates, pressures, etc. In alot of these fields, the cellular connection is spotty, so many of these apps have offline storage and then when the device gets a good signal, the data gets uploaded.

@diat150 The type of offline activity you describe is definitely the sort of thing we plan on supporting when we release offline support. Appreciate the additional data point, thanks!

An example for me is:
I want to create a perspective app in the maker edition for myself. This app will get data such as Location and altitude etc from the phones sensors. I want to use this app when i go out for kitesurfing and take my phone in my wetsuit with this app running. however i do not have an active internet connection on the water. It should be nice if i can see realtime results on the phone, while later on the results can be synchronized against a database.

We had a similar use case to the nuclear site example. Ours had to do with grading logs for a lumbermill. A technician goes out into the forest and grades the trees intended to be harvested. The system documents information about each log such as grade, species and diameter at a certain height (determining how much wood it is). Anyway, they were appraising the trees to be harvested in areas where there is no cell reception and then uploading that information into their database when they were able to get online.

Just throwing it out there as another potential use case in case that’s helpful for your development. Their app was ultimately written in .NET.