Ignition 8.1.16: Authentication Challenge in Perspective, Quality-of-Life Improvements and Much More

Ignition 8.1.16

 

You must be wondering, will this release train ever stop? I say to you no, not on my watch. Yes, here we are with more release train goodness, brought to you by the fine folks in Software Engineering.

As the dust settles and the steam clears, the release train pulls into the station delivering Ignition 8.1.16. (That’s right, the 16th release of 8.1!) So what do we have in store? As per usual, we’ve got updates to Perspective and quality-of-life improvements to the platform, as well as reporting and security improvements, and a little bit of something for Vision. Let's dive in and see what’s new.

 

What’s New With Perspective

Perspective continues to receive new features and quality-of-life updates. In Ignition 8.1.16, we have improved authentication for 21 CFR Part 11, made updates to the map component markers, added audio and much more.

I Challenge You to an Authentication

If you work in an industry regulated by the FDA, then you may be familiar with 21 CFR Part 11, which establishes regulations on electronic records and electronic signatures. To better help our users meet compliance requirements, we added an Authentication Challenge concept in Ignition 8.1.16.

During a production process, there are determined points at which an operator will need a supervisor to sign off as part of the 21 CFR Part 11 regulations. For electronic signatures, it is required that a supervisor be authenticated to ensure their identity.

This new Authentication Challenge concept is made for those situations where an operator is logged in to an application and needs a supervisor or other appropriate party to sign off on something. The tricky part here is proving that the supervisor actually did the signing and was present with the operator. Normally, applications prove a user took some action by keeping a record of activity for the user, which can be audited at a later time.

The Perspective Module uses Identity Providers (IDPs) to handle authentication. The use case we’ve described above isn’t natively supported by IDPs. The idea of temporarily authenticating a user while another user is already signed in to an application is new territory, and represents the core problem we needed to solve.

Our solution to the issue is this new Authentication Challenge concept, which is actually made up of several new features that work together. The idea is simple. While a user, such as an operator, is already signed in to a Perspective Session, we can now issue an Authentication Challenge. Perspective will redirect the user to the IDP just like any other login. Another person, such as a supervisor, simply provides their user credentials on the IDP’s login page. The IDP validates the credentials and redirects back to the session after the challenge. The whole workflow occurs without ever logging the operator out of the session or IDP. This allows the system to generate proof that two people were present for a given procedure.

So what exactly did we add? How does this work? Well, we needed two things: a way to issue an Authentication Challenge, and a way to allow application designers to perform an action such as verify credentials after a challenge is completed.

As for issuing challenges, we added two new features.

First, we added an Auth Challenge component action. In addition to triggering a challenge, the component action allows you to pass arbitrary data through a payload which can be examined after the challenge is complete.

 

Auth Challenge

 

Second, we added a system.perspective.authenticationChallenge function, which is identical in capability to the component action, except you can call it from any session-based Python script.

So we have ways to trigger a challenge. How do we handle the results of the challenge? That’s where another feature comes into play: the Authentication Challenge Completed session event script.

 

Auth Challenge Completed Script

 

Here you can define what happens after the signature has been provided, as well as examine the challenger’s roles and credentials. For example, you could actually capture electronic signatures using the Perspective Signature Pad component.

More Maps Component Love

In Ignition 8.1.15, the Maps component got a boost from additional GeoJSON support. In Ignition 8.1.16, the Maps component gets two additional properties that help to improve the map experience.

The first is the “hideViewMarkersOnZoom” property. Currently, when you zoom in or out on a map, the markers remain visible and can obstruct sections of your map. The new “hideViewMarkersOnZoom” property hides the markers while you zoom in or out, improving the user experience.

The second added property is the “enabled” property for markers on the map component. There are times when you want a marker to not be visible, such as different view states. The new “enabled” property gives you the ability to hide the marker and shadow for specific views defined in your application.

A Sound Improvement

Perspective is getting an exciting new feature in Ignition 8.1.16, the Audio Component. The Audio Component allows you to add audio to your Perspective projects.

The Audio Component gives you two options within your project. First, you can use audio to enhance screen actions or user activity by triggering playback through a script. Secondly, you can make use of a hidden (shh, don’t tell anyone) “display” property to cause the player to render on the view, which provides your standard array of playback controls. This new feature will definitely add depth to your HMIs, terminals, and dashboards.

Other Perspective Highlights

  • Added a “captureMode” property to the Barcode Scanner component, allowing developers to indicate which key event the component should listen to when starting a barcode scan.
  • The Tree component now allows for Shift + Click range selection.
  • Added a new “grid” object to the Time Series Chart, Power Chart, and Chart Range Selector components, continuing configuration settings that render grid lines on the components.

 

Other Notable Updates

Ignition 8.1.16 also includes quality-of-life improvements for the platform, reporting, security and Vision.

  • Vision:
    • Added a “Reject Updates During Edit” property to the Password Field component that prevents value changes from external sources, such as bindings.
    • Updated the “Action Qualifiers UI” on component scripting events, making it clearer when role restrictions are being applied.
  • Platform: Writes, edites, moves, and deletions to remote tag providers are now captured by the auditing system.
  • Reporting: Added “Binary Data” as a data type for report parameters, allowing binary data (such as an image provided via a URL) to be parameterized.
  • Security: Added a clickable “copy” UI element to Security Levels on the gateway’s Security Levels page.

 

Let's Briefly Talk About 8.1.17

You must be asking yourself, why are we talking about Ignition 8.1.17 … isn’t this supposed to be about 8.1.16? Yes, you are correct, this is about 8.1.16, but I wanted to provide some hints to the upcoming release train.

Our community is incredibly important to us and much of what we include in Ignition is driven by your feedback. Since the releases of 8.0 and 8.1, you’ve let us know that the Tag Editor has not met expectations. Armed with comments and feedback, our designers spent time analyzing what area of the Tag Editor could be improved. While not all requests could be accommodated, the new Tag Editor features coming to Ignition 8.1.17 will be a massive improvement that you will definitely enjoy. If you can’t wait for the next release train to arrive at the station, you’ll find the updated Tag Editor in the 8.1.17 nightly build available now. If you want some more insight into our goals with these changes, check out our forum post discussing the matter.

Until then, visit our release notes and user manual for more information about Ignition 8.1.16. As always, we invite your feedback about what you’d like to see in upcoming releases. 8.1.17 is steaming ahead and will soon arrive at the station with more improvements and updates to Ignition.


AUTHOR
Arnell Ignacio
Marketing Technology Specialist / Inductive Automation
Arnell is the IA Blog Postmaster General and a Marketing Technology Specialist for Inductive Automation. He has over 14 years of experience in digital, content, and strategic marketing. Arnell’s experience spans across B2B organizations that specialize in M2M solutions, embedded hardware, industrial wireless technologies, and industrial controls software as well as the nonprofit sector. In his spare time, Arnell loves spending time with his family, enjoys being a musician, and is passionate about live sound amplification and woodworking.
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