The release of Ignition 8 has led many customers to ramp up development of their industrial projects. Chief among the many new features and improvements of Ignition 8 is the introduction of a mobile-responsive visual development designer called the Ignition Perspective Module. Complementing the Vision Module, which is ideally suited for dedicated plant-floor displays and HMIs, the new Perspective Module equips customers with a robust toolset to deliver truly mobile-responsive screens for both browser-based and mobile-device applications.
With Perspective’s powerful feature set comes a whole new approach to development compared to Vision. Perspective leverages HTML5 and CSS3, focusing mainly on browsers and apps used on mobile devices. Data is processed differently in Perspective than in Vision, and Perspective provides new abilities to use mobile-device sensors like GPS and accelerometers. Because of the significant differences between the two modules, Vision projects cannot be directly ported over to Perspective.
With these differences in mind, we understand that new and experienced customers may encounter a learning curve when they start using Perspective. That is why we highly recommend using our robust resources to help get your projects done faster. Since Perspective marks a shift in visual development, we think that our live, in-person Perspective training course offers the most value for many members of our Ignition community.
To best explain how beneficial live Perspective training can be, we decided to get the viewpoints of attendees who’ve taken the course themselves. We interviewed Jason and Nicole Coope of Kanoa Consulting to find out what prompted them to take the Perspective course and to get their thoughts about the course.
The Need for Perspective Training
Jason and Nicole own Kanoa Consulting, which helps end users, clients, and system integrators implement continuous improvement programs, predominantly with MES systems. They currently use Ignition exclusively as the source platform for developing these systems.
“Nicole and I have degrees in computer science and software engineering respectively, and we have been working in this field for the last 30 years with the older technologies such as C, C++, Java, and .Net,” Jason explained. Jason is an Ignition veteran with over 10 years of experience. He started working with Ignition version 7.3.5 and has worked with each version since then. Nicole just started recently with Ignition, jumping right into Ignition 8.
They've seen the demand for Ignition 8 and the Perspective Module increase significantly since last year. Jason elaborated, “Pretty much all our existing clients have asked us to help them migrate to the Ignition 8 platform, primarily so they can switch to using Perspective for their user interface.”
In order to meet their customers’ needs, Jason and Nicole first turned to Inductive University (IU) to get a head start on Ignition 8 and the Perspective Module. With what they learned from IU, they were able to deliver a working application to a client, yet this experience made them realize just how different Perspective development was compared to Vision.
“Perspective is still fairly new and, aside from the differences in how user interfaces are designed, we were also dealing with dramatic changes and improvements in the usability with each new release. Using Perspective itself isn’t that hard, but after using Vision for 10 years, screens that I could whip up in 5 minutes were taking much longer,” Jason said.
When Jason first discovered Ignition, its ability to create powerful business applications in a fraction of the time and cost of using other technologies was a key reason for adopting it as the exclusive development platform. “It made no sense to us to switch back to using other software. Ignition provided everything we needed and we became accustomed to completing tasks quite quickly in Vision,” Jason explained.
As Jason and Nicole started to build more projects with Perspective, they realized they really needed to get through the learning curve quickly and were happy to find that Inductive was offering live Perspective training at their headquarters in Folsom, California. Jason said, “It wasn’t fair to our clients for them to be the guinea pigs as we learned how to build mobile-responsive applications correctly.”
Kanoa works in tandem with other Ignition Premier and Certified Integrators on various projects. Jason noted, “Vertech is a systems integrator that we partner with often and they have embraced Perspective in a big way. They are future-proofing their clients’ applications and what they are creating these days is quite outstanding compared to what was possible with Vision. We were initially hoping not to have to be such an early adopter of new technology, but like Vertech, we see the benefits of leading the way in the use of Perspective.”
A Week’s Training Makes a Big Difference
After having taken the class, Jason and Nicole had some great feedback and interesting points to share. The training gave them the tools and confidence to quickly deliver high-quality solutions to their clients. Jason explains, “That one week of training significantly accelerated our ability to offer Perspective solutions to our clients. It’s got us through the learning curve, which is what was needed to help us move to this newer technology.”
Jason further explained, “We had challenges in the beginning as we were so used to Vision and using dataset objects, that we initially attempted to use the same design patterns. The trainer ‘encouraged’ us to move away from datasets and instead manipulate JSON as the objects of choice for HTML data.”
Aside from Perspective, Ignition 8.0 also brings new functionalities such as messageHandlers. “At first I relied on my old habits of passing data between views using template parameters and client tags. But after enough head-shaking by my instructor, I switched to using messageHandlers and other new features provided by Ignition 8.0. In that sense, the training exposed me not only to Perspective but also the new features of Ignition 8.0,” said Jason.
When asked who might best be served by Perspective training, Jason responded, “I’d say the training would be of significant help to anyone who will be doing Perspective work. There are Ignition developers out there with a background in web development and they certainly have a significant step up. However, for anyone who is coming from a Vision background and doing migration projects, the training is definitely worthwhile and a good investment in the long run.”
While our software is easy to use and easy to learn, we also believe in providing the best education possible. That is why we are continually improving Inductive University and our live training programs to not only educate on new features but to also keep you up-to-date on best practices.
A New Paradigm for Visual Design
The Ignition Perspective Module introduces a new paradigm for developing visuals in Ignition which focuses primarily on mobile-responsive screens. Much of this depends on web development, which may be new to some of our customers. As Jason and Nicole have demonstrated, it is possible to create an application out of the box, but the Perspective training took their development abilities to the next level.
Nicole found that the Perspective training really helped to explain the difference between the various layouts. “On the very first day, Aaron, our instructor, explained the various containers, views and layout, how they work, how to choose the appropriate type, how the various settings affect them, and then tied it together by introducing us to wireframing,” Nicole said. Wireframing is a methodology for designing how views should come together to satisfy the requirements of a mobile-responsive application. Jason added, “I really didn’t need to worry about wireframing when using Vision, but it is an important step when building Perspective applications. Without it, it was easy to end up with a muddled, unstructured set of views that didn’t quite follow the layout rules you had hoped for.”
Jason and Nicole also discussed some key elements that make working with Perspective different from Vision. In Vision, component layout is like a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) application; in other words, you place components where you want them to appear. Components have layout properties and screens are not mobile-responsive, meaning you set a specific ratio for the size of window you wish to build.
“In Perspective, there are no layout properties to a component. They completely rely on inheriting what’s in containers. So you put containers inside containers to get the layout. This is entirely different to Vision and does not compare to templates. There are also a myriad of settings that affect placement, and getting a handle on all these was important,” said Jason.
Since Perspective deals with mobile-responsive layouts, multiple screen sizes must be considered. Instead of having set screen sizes such as in Vision, there are now breakpoints that determine if a large, medium, or small layout is displayed. Perspective uses columns or rows common in design concepts to aid in layout. By defining columns and rows, containers are used to set layout properties, define data, and contain components to help with either a vertical or horizontal layout. Containers help to manage components so that when a screen size changes, components are placed where they need to be.
Taking a live training course brings numerous benefits, such as being able to see how to use Ignition from one of our elite training experts, getting the latest updates on new features, networking with other trainees, and getting personalized assistance from members of our team to get the most out of your Ignition platform.
If you think you could benefit from attending our live Ignition Perspective training course, we encourage you to get more details in the Training section of our website. We’d love to see you in an upcoming class!