Vision & Perspective: Which Module is Best for Your Next Project?

The excitement is building as we put the finishing touches on Ignition 8 in preparation for its upcoming release. Ignition 8 is currently in open beta and we appreciate all of the great feedback we’ve gotten so far through that program. The highest-profile feature of Ignition 8 will be a new, mobile-focused visualization module called the Ignition Perspective Module.

As we explained in our last blog post, the Ignition Perspective Module is not replacing the Vision Module — in fact, the modules complement each other and can work together. Vision will be the preferred module for building traditional industrial applications for the plant floor, and Perspective will be for mobile-first applications. We are continuing to make improvements and provide long-term support for Vision.

In this post, we’d like to go into greater detail about two points: First, why the Vision and Ignition Perspective Modules can both run on your Ignition platform, and, second, how to determine which module will best fulfill your needs for a given project.

 

How Vision and Perspective are Complementary

To understand why Vision and Ignition Perspective can run side-by-side, let’s take a quick look into how Perspective fits into the larger Ignition platform.

 

Vision Client Tech Stack
The Vision Client tech stack, as represented above, is similar to that of the Ignition Gateway and the Ignition Designer.

In the topology of a typical Ignition installation, there’s the Ignition Gateway, the Ignition Designer, and Vision clients. At the base of the Gateway is the operating system, which can be Windows, Mac, or Linux. Above the OS is the Java runtime/VM layer, which is what Ignition runs on. Above the runtime/VM layer is the Ignition platform, which provides many features and services like tags, projects, database connections, the Gateway Network, and so on. At the top of the tech stack are modules, which let you do a number of useful things like connect to devices, use databases effectively, send alarm notifications, generate reports, and, in the case of the Vision Module, to create applications which run as Vision clients.

The Vision clients and Ignition Designer have similar tech stacks. They also run using Java on top of the operating system, and the Vision client is cross-platform so it runs on Windows, Mac, and Linux.

 

Perspective Session Tech Stack
The Perspective Session tech stack is quite similar to that of a Vision Client, and both can run on the same server.

What we call a “client” in Vision is called a "session" in Perspective, and the two actually have very similar tech stacks. At the bottom of the stack is the OS. In addition to supporting Windows, macOS, and Linux, Perspective also supports Android and iOS. The next part of the stack is the web browser, which is very similar to the runtime/VM layer in the other stacks because it provides an environment to execute code, generate user interfaces, and communicate back to the Gateway. On top of that runs the Perspective session application itself, and then modules can augment the features of Perspective.

As you can see, Perspective is just another module. It installs into the Gateway and provides a design experience in the Designer just like other Ignition modules do. Vision is also just a module; it is not Ignition itself. Clearly, Vision and Ignition Perspective can run side-by-side on the same server.

 

When It’s Best to Use Vision

With that being said, there will be cases when it makes more sense to use one module instead of the other. Whenever you start on a new project, there are many things you need to think about, such as who the users will be, how much data you need, what kind of time and resources you have to work with, visualization needs, and so forth. Deciding whether to use Vision or Perspective really comes down to which module will best fit your project at the visualization level.

Vision is and has been for many years a top-class desktop application. It is the best choice for traditional industrial plant-floor and desktop screens, standalone HMIs, and the like. If you need a full, production-ready application right now, then it is best to choose Vision. If you’re using multi-monitor or multi-desktop workstations, dedicated control panels and applications, desktop-dedicated or dedicated-access applications, terminals, or parallel screens, then Vision is the best way to go.

When Perspective comes out in the initial release of Ignition 8, it won’t be optimal for running on an HMI because the whole display will be contained within the web browser. That limitation will be addressed in the near future when we release a desktop application for Perspective, which will make it a more effective solution for standalone HMIs and multi-monitor workstations. An advantage of using Vision is that its capabilities are much more mature and stable, and its toolset is more comprehensive than those in the initial release of Perspective.

 

When It’s Best to Use Ignition Perspective

We designed the Vision Module primarily for desktop applications, but a funny thing has happened since we first released Ignition nine years ago: smartphones have overtaken desktops as the dominant type of computing device.

This game-changing development inspired us to create Ignition Perspective, which is designed specifically for mobile-first industrial applications and has a mobile-focused component set.

If you need to build mobile-responsive applications, then Perspective is the recommended way to go. If your application needs to run on a mobile OS, namely iOS or Android, then choose Perspective. If you need two-factor authentication or federated identities for the application you're building, choose Perspective.

 


There are many great new things that you can do in Perspective that you just can’t do in Vision: Automatically adapting to fit any screen size using mobile-optimized container types, the ability to use your device's sensors and intuitive touch commands, as well as message handling, flexible property bindings, CSS3 styles, and that’s just to name a few. Think of some of the possibilities of what you can do with Ignition Perspective: augment alarm information by taking a picture of the faulty machine, scan a QR code by a machine and have the SCADA system tell you what to do, take readings or photos in the field and tag them with GPS and other sensor data — there are so many new possibilities.

 



We wanted Ignition Perspective to revolutionize what you can do while feeling instantly familiar, so we carried over as many concepts from the Vision Module as we could. That’s why Perspective contains familiar elements like the drag-and-drop designer, property binding system, and scripting engine. If you already know how to use the Vision Module, you’ll pretty much know how to use Perspective.

On that note, a number of users have asked us whether it will be possible to automatically translate existing Vision projects to Perspective. The answer is no. Why? We thought it was very important to provide you with a solution that was fully mobile-optimized, and there was no way to make projects convertible or compatible without compromising on that. But by making Perspective’s user experience as similar as possible to Vision’s, we’ve strived to make it relatively quick and easy to build similar projects in Perspective, and we’ll be providing free training and tips on mobile-responsive design. Also, please note that although Vision projects can’t be turned into Perspective projects, Vision projects will continue to work on the Ignition 8 platform.

 

What About the Mobile Module?

While Ignition Perspective isn’t replacing the Vision Module, it is replacing the Mobile Module. The Mobile Module was our first try at adapting to the smartphone’s rise to dominance. It helped to bridge our desktop application technology to the browser but it didn’t fully leverage modern web technology. For years, we’ve wanted to provide an industrial application that was built for the web from the ground up, and now we’ve accomplished that with Ignition Perspective.

If you’ve been using the Mobile Module for mobile control applications, Ignition Perspective lets you do everything you’re already doing while also taking advantage of all of these new capabilities in a far more modern, powerful, and secure package. Best of all, if you’ve already got a Mobile Module license with Upgrade Protection, you'll get an upgrade to Perspective Mobile when you upgrade to Ignition 8.

 

Looking Ahead

You can play with the Ignition Perspective demo project by downloading the native app from App Store or Google Play, or by visiting demo.inductiveautomation.com. Ignition 8 will be released in April and you can download the beta version now. Looking beyond the initial release, we have goals to deliver a Perspective desktop application, a Perspective offline mode, and additional Perspective components in future versions of Ignition 8.

Once Ignition Perspective is available alongside Vision, you’ll have more choices in the way you build projects, and we hope this article has helped you get a better idea of which module will work best for your upcoming projects. Let us know what you think in the comments.


AUTHOR
Carl Gould and Colby Clegg
Co-Directors of Software Engineering
Carl Gould
Carl is co-director of software engineering at Inductive Automation. Carl has been with the company from the ground up and was part of the original team that developed Ignition. His work has been instrumental to the company's rapid growth ever since. Today, he continues to lead the development of Ignition, innovating new ways to elevate both the software and the manufacturing automation industry as a whole.

Colby Clegg
Colby has been with Inductive Automation since the company’s formation, and is one of the original designers of the Ignition software. His day-to-day goal is to make Ignition do more things in more places, focusing on data management, performance, and distributed computing. Outside of work, you'll probably find him exploring the incredible countryside surrounding Folsom and beyond on his bike.