How to justify Ignition to decision makers who are not familiar with the SCADA space

There's a tl;dr further down the page. There was a similar question asked back in 2012 here, Make the case for Ignition, and I feel that Ignition has changed enough since then that it warrants being updated for the times.

I work for a large company that has grown to be huge. When I started back in 2011, I was a newbie at Ignition and a pioneer of Ignition in my company. Back then, the controls guys at the operations (which I am) were left to their own devices to come up with solutions that made sense for their facility. I slowly and jerkily deployed Ignition and it was a huge success despite my clumsiness.

Today my company is huge and has survived various cyber threats. Our IT department has been given almost unlimited power to mitigate cyber threats, real or imagined, which they wield in ignorance of the issues encountered trying to manage some incredibly complex issues on the mill floor. An "OT group" was created out of the IT group, but for the most part their primary function is to enforce IT policies on the OT side of the fence.

Some of the company's acquisitions and recent hires have brought other Ignition users and fans into the fold, but we are on the wrong side of the IT/OT fence to have much influence.

I recently had the opportunity to move both my Ignition server and DB server to an OT controlled VM and had to work extensively with an OT admin to get this done. He has a totally IT background and was just assigned to the OT group. He's very, very good at IT but mostly ignorant of the SCADA space.

I am going to attach a redacted e-mail exchange between us in which he basically asked "Why do we need Ignition?" and I answered in typically verbose fashion. I am hoping that other users will read this exchange and chime in with their own insights, especially you integrators who have to "sell" Ignition to your clients. My hope is that eventually when someone asks "Why do we need Ignition? What does it do?" I can just send them a link to this post.

tl;dr - here is how I justified Ignition to one of our admins. I hope you chime in.

This is the video that started it all for me 10 years ago. Still true to this day. It’s also what I showed [a senior IT guy] to enlist his help in getting Ignition here in PA (Port Angeles) all those years ago.

Rethinking SCADA Software For Modern Manufacturing -- Inductive Automation - YouTube

Ignition is the Leatherman of OT software in that it performs many functions but compared to its competitors it usually does them better and much less expensively and more easily. People that perform my job function that take the time to get a little way up the learning curve realize that it is far superior to anything else out there. Anyone who doesn’t realize that either:

  1. Didn’t take the time or doesn’t want to exert the effort to understand it.
  2. Has some kind of bias against it (has an allegiance to a competitor, for example).
  3. Has not spent enough time in their job function working with other products to realize how ground-breaking Ignition is
  4. Has an incentive to use a more expensive solution.

It is the fastest growing software of its kind for many reasons.


  1. Makes it quick and easy to make live GUIs of the process (it talks to the PLCs).
  2. Has an exceptional set of tools for working with data from databases.
  3. Is server and web based which makes deployment to many users easy and inexpensive
  4. Uses python as a scripting language which make it possible for developers do almost anything they can imagine that isn’t already built into the software with a non-proprietary language that a lot of people are already familiar with
  5. Easily scalable

There are ways to break that down into more items, but that’s basically it. And it is the interaction of those things that makes it so powerful.

I’m going to name some competitors in the space that Ignition exists in, but realize they aren’t really competitors…they have some functions in common with Ignition.

  1. Wonderware is pretty big in our industry. It is [a big name integrator’s] HMI of choice and would be my first choice if Ignition didn’t exist. However, it really does not compete with Ignition for ease of use, deploying to large numbers of users and cost. Our [machine center 1], [machine center 2] and [machine center 3] HMI’s are Wonderware. And recently Wonderware has been sold and resold to various huge companies and it seems to be either dying or moving toward Rockwell in ridiculous complexity.
  2. Rockwell’s various offerings that will have “FactoryTalk View” in the name. This is the first software of this type that I was exposed to. Rockwell’s offerings these days have become ridiculously complex, resource intensive, fragile and expensive. And “ridiculously” is not exaggeration or hyperbole in this case. It is actually ridiculous. Our Boiler HMI is FactoryTalk View. On reboot, after the FTV splash screen has been displayed it takes 3 minutes before anything usable appears on the screen. Ridiculous. Imagine running a BOILER with an urgent situation in progress and having to wait that long to be able to do anything.

Those are the two main ones you will encounter here at [my company]. Some others:

  1. iFix – I think GE owns this now
  2. SIMATIC WinCC – this is made by Siemens which means it will be pretty good but hard use
  3. GE Cimplicity
  4. InduSoft – I’ve worked with this before many years ago.

None of these are good solutions for the way we use Ignition here in PA (and most other places).

Again, anyone in my situation that doesn’t realize that Ignition is really the only solution, just doesn’t have enough experience.


From: [OT Admin]
Sent: Wednesday, April 19, 2023 11:14 AM
To: Clint Banzet
Subject: Information on Ignition

Clint, maybe you can give me some information on what Ignition does. We have a number of different software systems that I am thinking do the same thing, and are setup across different mills.

Overall, What does Ignition do? What other products that you know of do similar stuff to Ignition?

I know that you are familiar with Ignition, but are there any other systems that we can migrate to, or upgrade to an Enterprise version of Ignition?

[OT Admin]
OT Systems Administrator

Please also comment on the appropriateness of this post and/or link other similar posts.


I think you have covered it quite succinctly.

As you already have WunderWare onsite, I would point at the costings of that compared to costings of Ignition. At one site I was at, their yearly support for WunderWare alone was more than what I could of installed a full site license of Ignition.

I would also point out to your IT colleague that Ignition has been PEN tested many times and to my knowledge, no large exploits have been found. They are fast to release updates.

There is another thread on this forum the title is something like "Better than Ignition? Any SCADA?". I think it might be locked now, but the content should still be there.


@Matrix_Engineering. Excellent link. Thank you.

I don't know your audience as well as you do, but our marketing team just recently came up with this, if testimonials from other customers might help:


Thanks Paul. I was hoping that you IA guys would chime in. There were plenty of reasons to love Ignition that I did not include in my email because they were not important to that audience, but in my opinion the forum is the best reason and the fact that IA personnel participate extensively is what makes the forum so great. Follow that up with many very knowledgeable users like @pturmel, @JordanCClark, @nminchin and @bkarabinchak.psi, just to name a few, that also give freely of their time and expertise in the forum...well it's like having a staff of experts on call 24/7. I can say without exaggeration that the forum has been the key to my success. I'm just not sure how to pitch that to a decision maker without essentially saying "Well, I'm not very smart, but I know some people who are."


I made the list! Agree about this forum being a great resource, when I started off at this job learning Ignition back in 2018 this forum was vital to learning how it worked and figuring out best practices. Since then I've used FactoryTalk, WinCC and InTouch HMI products and none of them compare at all to the flexibility/extensibility offered in Ignition imo.

To be even handed, the ability to do anything in a number of ways does mean new users have 100 ways to shoot themselves in the foot, but I would take the unopinionated nature of Ignition versus a HMI software that only has one way to do things that breaks the moment you have some exceptional case that it can't handle.


If they care at all about the mobile viewing experience, there is no competitor to Ignition in the SCADA space that I'm aware of.


Well I wouldn't call these items you could use to convince a customer, but as benefits to someone SCADA-savvy, I have these:

  1. The development environment is live.
    This includes: tags, page’s buttons/scripts/bindings/etc., screen navigation* (*Vision module only), parameter substitutions
    User event actions like button presses require the designer to be put in run mode.
  2. Designer is free and runs unlimited.
  3. Ignition runs in a 2-hour resettable demo period.
    Services stay alive when the trial ends, and some functionality is lost until the trial is reset. The designer is unaffected apart from not showing tag values.
  4. Tag UDTs.
    Templates for tags can be created and then instantiated to make creating the same device tags super easy.
  5. Connected PLC tags can be browse directly within the Designer and used to easily create tags.
    Browsed tags can be dragged into the tag browser to create Ignition tags for them. You can also create tag UDTs by dragging and dropping a collection of PLC tags into the tag browser directly.
  6. There is a central location for the majority* of Ignition server config and status of everything available via web portal. This is a limited list: users and security, backup schedules, server config, database connections, plc connections, email, auditing, alarm notification, modules, licensing, tag providers, diagnostic loggers, etc.
    *the only configuration unavailable from the web portal is low level java configuration like changing maximum memory and other low level Java settings.
  7. Access to the Designer and Client installers, and Perspective (HTML5/CSS3) projects browser urls from the web portal. No need to worry about copying around installation files to clients.
  8. Database connectivity is at the heart of Ignition. Ignition manages all database connections, and SQL queries are native functionality. For example, you can bind to SQL queries within page components themselves, call queries very simply via Python scripts, etc. A store and forward system ensures that connection issues to the database(s) does not stop records from being dropped.
  9. Page component property bindings.
    You can bind a dynamic expression/tag/query/etc. to almost every property of a component. For example: text, colours, fonts, position, size, visibility, advanced component styling (CSS properties), tooltips, component enable, etc. etc.
  10. Page component property config is all in the one, non-modal property editor panel.
  11. Graphic templates.
    Templates offer a way to template your graphics such as for device symbols, analogue displays, etc. Template parameters can be used for anything you want. A template parameter is not only limited to being a tag substitution; it can be a: json object, dataset, or a simple datatype (int/float/string/bool/etc.) that can be used however you wish. For example, within an indirect tag binding, within an expression, in a SQL query, as part of the text of a label, within a Python script, etc.
  12. Docked windows. Ability to dock a window/page to the edge of the client (N/S/E/W) e.g. for headers/navigation/alarm panel/etc.
  13. Control of content layout when resizing. Ultimate control in Perspective due to HTML5, but even in Vision (Java application) you can use anchoring to force a component e.g. a table, to maintain e.g. 5px from the top, right, and bottom edges of the window so that it resizes nicely to different resolutions.
  14. Perspective - All the benefits of HTML5 and CSS: CSS is a godsend for styling standardisation, as you can define every detail within a CSS selector from font styles, colour, background colour, borders, drop shadows, cursor icon, animations, on mouse hover styling, disabled styling, etc. (over 500 styling properties are available in CSS)
  15. Vector-based graphics. Infinitely scalable graphics in contrast to many other raster/pixel-based SCADA platforms. SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) files can be directly imported, and styling can be applied to any object within them, for example an SVG of a pump, you can style/colour any part of it and not have to export PNGs of every single colour/style that you might need (e.g. red/green/grey versions).
  16. Python scripting. Modern, efficient, and powerful. Very easy to both read and write.
  17. In-built SMS/email/voice solution directly into the product. No need for a 3rd party solution and separate licence. Alarm escalation procedures are highly configurable.
  18. All tag configuration is done in the one place*, the tag editor. From the many different tag properties, to enabling and configuring history and alarms, it's all done from the one editor. Alarms and history are attached to the tag itself. Compare this to other SCADAs where tags, alarms, and tag history are all independent. A lot of other SCADAs also have a very minimal number of properties that you can set on tags, and even less that you can read in the runtime.
    *Python scripting is also able to create and edit tags for advanced applications.
  19. Tag bulk editing.
    You can copy a list of tags into json format directly from the tag browser, edit in notepad++(npp), copy from npp, and paste back into Ignition to overwrite tag configuration. No need to export/import tags to do this.
    There are also other avenues to bulk edit tags with developed tools using scripting.
  20. Event handlers.
    There are event handlers on most components like touch/cursor events, keyboard key press events, startup events, etc., but there are also event handlers on tags as well with the most prominent being the tag change event. You can write python code to execute whenever a tag's value (quality and/or timestamp) change.
  21. Tags can be of many different data types: simple types (int/float/string/etc.), dataset, json object, etc. Datasets and json objects are extremely useful for storing structured data.

Excellent, excellent points all, @nminchin. Another one of the issues I face in my situation is that there a large number of controls people across my company who do not have enough development time on Ignition to realize what a productivity improvement it provides when working on projects. I would say I can do tasks anywhere from 2 to 10 times (or more) faster in Ignition than I can in a competitive product, especially when distribution is considered. For pure development speed, #1 probably helps me than any other feature because I am constantly benefitting from it while developing. I immediately know when there is a mistake before I even get a chance to see it in runtime. But every point you list is a biggie. That's the kind of content I was hoping to see on the post. Thank you Nick.


My reply is this.
Its Browser Based Very Problematic. Cant Spawn other Executables. Live tags problematic
Cant import CSV files, Cant have a global Format. Cant do a Print Screen directly to a printer.
Not good graphics creation packages. Python problematic VBA is better suited. Bulk edit is useless, other systems allow it more effectively. No Search and replace tags per display. But change individually very tedious and time-consuming, and I could go on.

That would be Perspective clients. Ignition also has Vision clients, which are Java Swing running local to the client, and can do all of the things you list as not possible.

Vision has nearly twenty years of continuous development (counting the FPMI days) under its belt, and is extremely capable. Perspective is the new tech that grew out of a desire to better support mobile devices (which legitimately sucked before this).


Don't feed the troll, I don't want this to turn into another topic I have to close.


You caught me just in time. :rofl:


I would point out the scalability. Ignition does a great job controlling anything as small as 1 machine or area all the way up to multiple linked gateways across multiple sites from a cloud-based dashboard.

It can also expose data through web API which opens the door to accessing plant floor data from custom reports within the organization.


I have to thank cbanzet for introducing me to ignition and IA, I'm at the same company as he but that doesn't sway my choice for ignition. I have about 3-4 months less time using it them him but found it's functionality to be very impressive. The design in vision is pretty endless. Not sure if you can embed a live video feed into an HMI other then ignition which can help operators see critical areas that can't be seen from the operator station. I've been a version 7.9 user for a long time and just recently upgraded to 8.1 and it blows the previous out of the water especially ease of use and editing.
The symbol factory is comparable, I was able to design motors that looked like they were turning when on for a more real feel. It only took a few minutes then copy and paste, change the tag and you have many more.
Ignition connects to different PLC's from other manufacturer's at the same time and pass info and tags to each. I've had Allen-Bradley, Automation Direct, and Siemens all at the same time as well as optimizer databases, which too can exchange data.
I've also used the redundant feature for backup in critical situations, if one fails the other will failover automatically(if you set it up for that) so downtime is very minimal if at all and repairs on the main server can start.
Ignition has also saved us a few times from mass downtime. I've had AB HMI's and industrial computers die and was able to write up an HMI and get things up and running again in an acceptable time frame. Most of them never went back to the original and just run the ignition HMI now and have for years without fail.


Python problematic VBA is better suited

In all my days....

Id love to hear some of the arguments for this. Python has issues to be sure, but VBA is practically obsolete.


Having developed a lot of VBA code, I hate to push the like button on this statement, but uggh: I know it's true...

Sorry Kevin.......

I prefer Pascal myself or APL :slightly_smiling_face: both of these languages have great futures!

I Do Agree, Noone Uses Browsers Anymore. They've Outgrown Their Britches.

Being able to test your code while you're developing is certainly a hindrance to efficiency. I prefer having to compile and restart - with time to make myself another coffee - to test, myself.

With Python you can do anything. While not out of the box, a blanket statement like this is problematic.

Not sure what you're talking about here, is it numeric formats? If it's styling, then you're most assuredly more wrong than you know. Perspective styles / css offers 500+ styling options all tied into a single style class you can assign to any component. I doubt you'll find that in any other scada.

Is this a thing people do? Sounds very specific.. I think you'll find these other apps don't do that either: Windows, Linux, Apple?, Paint, Citect, Clearscada, "I could go on" (just like my heart). These are only fairly insignificant apps though, so maybe it's expected :man_shrugging:

Yet. But it is coming and it will beat anything else you've used in another scada out the park (probably). Have a look at the ICCX (I think) preso with a demo.
See 25:60. Or 26:00 if you're more simple-minded

This I'll grant you (find replace can only get you so far), but with python you can create any tool you like to bulk edit, so it's kind of moot if you have the nous

Yes there is, from 8.1...15? Upwards

One thing that I think we will I agree on however, is the flaw in Ignition that it doesn't make my coffee in the morning :frowning:

Edit: oh, you're this poster! Paid Tech Support lacks knowledge Welcome back :slight_smile:


I am in the same situation, @justinedwards.jle - I've written a lot of VBA code .. and my favorite part of Ignition has been learning the beautiful programming language of Python. It was very frustrating at first, but once you get in the groove, you hate going back to anything else.