Build Amazing Projects Incredibly Quickly

Leveraging Resources from the Ignition Exchange

55 min video  /  49 minute read View slides


Don Pearson

Chief Strategy Officer

Inductive Automation

Kent Melville

Sales Engineering Manager

Inductive Automation

Jason Hamlin

Senior Systems Engineer

Corso Systems

When you’re building a control system project to meet a customer’s urgent needs, one of the biggest challenges you often face is time itself. Project development can turn into a long, drawn-out process that becomes frustrating for system integrators and end users alike. The sooner you can create a proof of concept, kickstart a project, or get a quick win, the better!

Rapid development capabilities have always been an important part of the Ignition industrial application platform and now they have been expanded with the Ignition Exchange, a free, online repository of custom Ignition resources. In this hands-on webinar, see how quickly you can put together a wide variety of applications — from simple to sophisticated — by using free, ready-to-use Ignition Exchange resources.

  • Get started easily with full screens and projects
  • Generate charts on the fly
  • Quickly add components to a project
  • Set up dashboards easily

Webinar Transcript

Don: Well, good morning, everyone, and welcome to today's webinar: “Building Amazing Projects Incredibly Quickly, Leveraging Resources from the Ignition Exchange.” I'd like to welcome everyone again. My name is Don Pearson. I'm Chief Strategy Officer here at Inductive Automation, and I'll be the moderator for today's webinar. I'll introduce our other presenters in just a few minutes, but first, let's just take a glance at today's agenda. I'll briefly introduce you to Inductive Automation, Ignition, and our speakers, talk about the advantages of using ready-to-use resources, and we'll tell you about why we created the Ignition Exchange, which serves as a repository of custom Ignition resources. And you'll see a 30-minute demo of the Ignition Exchange starting with a basic orientation. And then we'll show how you can build or improve various types of projects using the Exchange, including full projects and screens, individual components and also, integrations and scripting. After the demo, we'll give you information on how you can contribute resources to the Exchange, if you're interested, then we'll finish the webinar, of course, as we always do, with some audience Q&A.

Don: Just a little background on Inductive Automation, if you're new to us, we've been in business since 2003. Our Ignition software platform has been adopted by thousands of industrial organizations worldwide for their HMI, SCADA, MES and IoT solutions. Ignition is used now by 54% of Fortune 100 and over 29% of Fortune 500 companies. We have over 2300 integrators that have joined our Integrator Program. And in April 2019, just last year, we released our Ignition 8 platform, and since then, we've already made about 170 plus changes and improvements to that. So for more information, you can go to the About section of our website and learn more about our company and of course, also on the website, about our product. But just an overarching statement about why so many companies are choosing Ignition, because Ignition is the world's first universal industrial application platform providing you with an integrated development environment for those HMI, SCADA, MES and IoT solutions. Here's just some bullet points to differentiate it: It's got an unlimited licensing model, so you can have unlimited tags, clients, concurrent designers, connections, cross-platform compatibility, IT standard technologies, a scalable server-client architecture. It's web-based, web-managed, web-launched designer and clients, modular configurability. Really, it gives you the freedom to just buy what you need and add to it as you need it. And it has rapid development and deployment tools.

Don: Let's meet our speakers. Kent Melville is the Sales Engineering Manager here at Inductive Automation. He puts his expertise in systems integration to work every day as he helps companies build Ignition systems to match their specific needs. That's a brief introduction. Kent, tell us a little more about yourself and about what you do here at the company.

Kent: Sure, thanks, Don. As you said, I'm the Sales Engineering Manager. We really like to think of ourselves over in sales engineering as solution architects. We get to meet with customers and discuss their needs, figure out which modules, which of our products are right for them and then also, help them figure out the best architecture. And then once that's all in place, we also get to talk about implementation, figuring out best practices and the best path forward. And the nice part about being in sales engineering is we're not just there until they buy the software; we get to maintain that relationship with them and help them as they do this implementation going forward. So that's a little bit what we do in sales engineering.

Don: Thanks. And thanks for being here, Kent.

Kent: Absolutely.

Don: And our other guest, we're very happy to welcome Jason Hamlin today. Jason is a Senior Systems Engineer, Corso Systems, which is a Premier Integrator for Ignition. He brings 18 years of combined multi-industry industrial experience, everything from being a licensed electrician, project manager, estimator and purchasing agent, to the SCADA Manager for a wastewater utility. He'll tell us about how Corso Systems is using and contributing to the Ignition Exchange. But Jason, I gave you a brief introduction, please tell us a little bit more about you and what you do at Corso.

Jason: Thanks, Don, that was a great summary. I'm a Senior Systems Engineer, as it says. So Corso, we do MES, SCADA, business intelligence solutions for a variety of industries. My specific role is actually to work direct with customers and help find those solutions. For Ignition Exchange, which we'll talk about later, we volunteered a lot of our time and put some of our work together, and we could talk later as to why, but that is basically my role at Corso. If Kent is a problem-creator, most people view me... A problem-solver, most people view me as a problem-creator. Just ask my kids and customers who have to pay the bills.

Don: Yes, but then, you turn around and solve the problems, too, Jason, so that's good, yeah.

Jason: Only because we have good tools like Ignition to work with.

Don: That's great! That's why you're a guest on today's webinar. Oh, we appreciate you being here. Thanks so much, Jason. And why don't we get into it? Let's go ahead and get in today's topic. And I think having someone like Jason here along with Kent, we have a lot of time for demo and Q&A today because I think it's really a hands-on kind of webinar today.


The Advantages of Ready-to-Use Resources

Don: The main subject or purpose for this webinar is to help you save development time. As you take a look at it, the competition within an industry becomes more impacted. Companies, they're constantly under pressure to make things happen in a short amount of time. And to stay ahead of the competition, companies have to deliver goods and services to market as soon as they can, which translates into more urgent timelines. Extended timelines and launch delays could result in lost revenue that could reach up to the millions of dollars and really cost a company competitive advantage. A large portion of project timelines are spent in the proof of concept and development phases. If you can have tools and resources that can help achieve a proof of concept sooner, which can lead to more project wins in the future, that's a real asset. After winning a bid with a solid proof of concept, the same tools and resources aid in reducing development time, resulting in reduced frustration and ultimately lead to faster time to market.

Don: Pre-built resources from the Ignition community can help you jumpstart your development. Rather than spend time building a foundation, you can build upon a template or a project and get to the heart of your specific development. Additional pre-build resources such as scripts and views, styles, and UDTs can help accelerate development; help you reach the finish line much faster. Templates allow you to make updates from a single point with changes propagating throughout your entire project, rather than make changes in multiple places, which can obviously be time-consuming. Updating templates can help save a tremendous amount of time by making changes to all instances in your project. Using resources found in the Ignition Exchange not only can help you fast-track your development, it can also help you incorporate best practices into your project. Our dedicated Ignition community are always finding ways to improve development and share best practices, and we've always been over the years amazed at what they can do with Ignition. So with the Exchange it gives us an opportunity to really leverage some of that knowledge across the community, which is extremely valuable to everybody in their project development timelines and success.

Don: Resources that are found in the Ignition Exchange include Vision templates, scripts, Perspective styles and views, UDTs, Ignition projects and Ignition gateway backups. But what I really think is important here is for me to turn it over to Kent, let him get into detail, give a little walkthrough in terms of the Exchange, and then dig into the details of how you can take advantage of the whole goal behind creating the Exchange in the first place. So with that, Kent, over to you.


The Ignition Exchange

Kent: Thank you, Don. I think in order to really understand why the Ignition Exchange is exciting to us, we need to take a step back historically. And as many of you are aware, in 7 9, we had the cloud templates, in the designer you go under tools, go down to cloud templates and there were a bunch of resources. Well, all templates there that you could pull into your projects. A popular one that was there was our ad hoc trend chart for the Vision Module. You just pull that in and utilize that. And we had lots and lots of customers and integrators who use that in all their projects. And we love the cloud templates, but we found it was a little bit limited. You know, some of the highlights were that you could upload resources and make them public, share them with the entire Ignition community, or you could just upload them privately so that just you could access them. And we certainly wanted to maintain that, but as we released Ignition 8, we saw an opportunity to expand and improve on the concept of cloud templates. And the result of that was the Ignition Exchange, which is a free online marketplace full of custom Ignition resources.

Kent: Because Perspective doesn't use templates, they're just views and you have all these other types of components like styles. It didn't make sense to continue to limit these cloud templates ideas to just templates. We wanted you to be able to upload all different kinds of resources, and still share those publicly or use those privately just for yourself or even share them throughout your organization. And so, with that, we built out the Ignition Exchange. The Ignition Exchange is not just a product released by Inductive Automation or something, it is truly created by our community and us together. And so, similar to cloud templates, the Exchange allows users to share resources publicly within their organizations or just store those resources privately for themselves. The Ignition Exchange contains many assets that can be built and used inside Ignition and it's for a multitude of industries really. The Ignition Exchange was developed to help Ignition users quickly start and efficiently complete their Ignition development projects and this provides anyone developing with Ignition an incredible competitive edge.

Kent: This is to help you provide proof of concepts in a short amount of time as possible, if you're looking to maintain a competitive edge and get to market quickly, this is gonna help you out with that. And also, we had Inductive Automation that are providing tools that allow companies to achieve that goal. So it's part of our commitment to the community. 


Demo of the Ignition Exchange

Kent: But now with a better understanding of what's at stake and what the Ignition Exchange is all about, let's actually show you what the Ignition Exchange can do. On our website you can always just go to our home page here, Inductive Automation. And right now, if you scroll through these banners you can certainly see we are highlighting the Ignition Exchange, that's one way to navigate to it. But also up here in the top corner, and this is something we recently added to our website, there's quick links to get to things like Inductive University, but also, first and foremost right there our link to the Ignition Exchange.

Kent: So, we're gonna navigate to this. This was released at our user conference this past year, so it's relatively new, but as we go through this, you can see there's all different kinds of resources that you can come and experience. So, because this is driven by the community, there are things that are for Ignition specifically, meaning that they're gonna help you with industrial projects, but also people upload things like Toddler Distractor, it's a little app for your kids to play with on your phone. So there's all kinds of things on here. It really is a wide open community. But to talk about how to use this page a little bit, I wanted to highlight the... First of all you can certainly sort by just what are the new resources, what are popular, what are recently updated. You can, of course, come in and search for specific resources. And then, of course, I can come in, right now I'm just browsing all resources. I can also come in and click just for my resources that I've personally uploaded. I could come down and see any resources that are shared within my organization.

Kent: So, for me, I can see all the ones that have been uploaded by employees at Inductive Automation. For you, maybe your whole integration team wants to start uploading resources and they are not shared publicly, they're just shared for your team. You could click on my organization, see all those resources, be able to grab those and load them to projects from wherever you were at. And that's just all free hosting provided by us. You can also, if you find resources that are interesting to you or resources you put into your projects or you might wanna watch them to see if new versions come out, you wanna click on just the ones that you've downloaded in the past, you can filter by any of those categories there. But continuing down here, I can see all the different employees at Inductive Automation who are contributing to the Exchange and I could filter just to see their resources, I could come to categories and just see... Specifically, I'm interested in...

Kent: What's there for alarming, for example, and I could filter by that. Another thing is maybe I wanted to just look for sample reports or maybe I wanted to just find Vision windows, 'cause I'm not using Perspective yet. Or I just want entire projects I can download, you can certainly filter that way. And another nice thing is when people upload these resources, they are going to designate a version that it's compatible with. And so you can certainly filter by your Ignition version as well, make sure anything you download is gonna be usable for you. And then, of course, I can only see public resources or just my own private resources or resources shared with my organization. But with that all being said, there are a couple of resources that I really want to highlight today and show you. As we go through this, I'm actually going to not just show you them here inside the Ignition Exchange website, but in addition, we're gonna download them, we're gonna load them into Ignition and show you how that all works.

Kent: Let's go ahead and first of all show you the ad hoc trend chart. As I had mentioned before, a big piece of cloud templates was that Vision ad hoc trend chart, there is a Perspective ad hoc trend chart that has been uploaded, and so let's go ahead and take a look at that. You can see here some screen shots of what it's gonna look like, I can see a description of what it does, and I can come to installation, this one's really simple to install, so the installation instructions are very basic. But for more complex resources, you might see a long list of installation instructions. And then, of course, there's some auto-generated ones by us, that we auto-detect when somebody uploads it, what type of resource is this? And we give some additional instructions for those who may not be familiar with the Ignition yet. With that all being said, the last thing on here is we have versions, you can see that it was initially released in September, and as it was reviewed, it was updated a couple of different ways. And so you could come and download a specific version. So maybe someday this will be upgraded for 8.0.8 or some other new future version of Ignition, as new features. You could come and grab that latest version, or if you were still running on 8.0.5, you could come grab one of these previous versions, all that kind of stuff.

Kent: But certainly you can come and just download these, and that's what we're gonna do today. I'm gonna go ahead and download this ad hoc trend chart, and so you can see it just downloaded a zip right there for me. And let's show you how you'd actually bring that into Ignition. So I have Ignition installed, just running in the trial mode right here. I installed this last night. There's not much on this gateway right now, but I'll show you what I did. No smoke and mirrors here, but I have a database connecting, my MySQL, and I have connected up to two simulators, I just have our generic sim and our dairy demo sim. These could be live PLCs, it doesn't really matter. I created some tags in the system and set up some alarms and some history on those tags. But as far as projects on my gateway, no projects. So we're starting from scratch as far as visualization and all that's concerned. The first thing I'm gonna do is we're gonna go ahead and launch the Ignition Designer to get started here, so we're gonna go ahead and use the Designer launcher, and with that I connect up to my local host gateway there. And as this starts up, I sign-in. And like we said, there are no projects, so I'm gonna create a new project here and we'll call this Exchange demo for my title. I'll go ahead and add a space there.

Kent: My default database will be that MySQL database we connected to. I'll go ahead and choose a project template, just the Perspective menu nav to get me some screens to get started. And with that, I'm gonna go ahead and create this new project. We'll go ahead and launch this base project to show you... We're gonna go ahead and launch this first off, I just hit save and I come in to launch Perspective, launch this session. I just want to show what... Just by default, there are some basic screens that come in with that template that we had chosen, that Perspective menu nav. It just gives me a home screen, nothing really there, it has a chart that's not actually hooked up to any history, and it has our alarm table. Like I said, I configured some tags or some history and alarms, and so I can just see some of those alarms in my system right there.

Don: Can I interject a question here, Kent?

Kent: Absolutely.

Don: Since someone asked if we might as well just back... There was a question when you were showing things around, is there backwards compatibility for their versions?

Kent: Yes. So, if... Like, this one's 8.0.5. Right now, I have Ignition 8.0.7 installed, and I'm gonna be uploading those resources and it works just fine. So you don't have to specifically be running exactly the version, it's that version or newer.

Don: Okay, appreciate it, back to you.

Kent: Great, thank you. So, this is just very basic, I've just created a skeleton project here. But let's go ahead and show you how to actually import resources from the Exchange. And so, as you remember, we had gone ahead and downloaded this ad hoc trend chart, how do I actually put that into my project? Well, what you can do... We've actually tried to make it really easy for you. And so, if I come back to my gateway here, I can come and we've added this new menu item here under system, that's called Ignition Exchange, and that can link me to the Ignition Exchange website, but also, it is an import tool. And so, I can go ahead and just pull out of my downloads folder that zip file that we had downloaded, drag it in here, it auto understands the format, it sees the read me, tells me about it. And I'm gonna go ahead and click next, it says, "Which project you wanna put this in?" We're gonna go ahead and put it in our Exchange demo project and go ahead and say import.

Kent: And with that it says it successfully imported the projects or the package. And so now, if I come back to the designer, I'm gonna go ahead and refresh it from the gateway. And with that, if I come into perspective, go into views, I can now see that it added this ad hoc trends view. And let's go ahead and add that into my project. So if I come to my charts page, that just by default had a chart not actually connected to any history, and I just delete that chart. I can go ahead and now take my ad hoc trends, pull that on, and because it's in a flex container, I'm gonna set grow to one to make it go full screen. And with that, I have an ad hoc trend chart added to my projects. And if I wanted to test that out, I could go into preview mode and I could grab any of my tags here, select it, click "add tags," adds it to my chart. I could toggle between how much data am I showing here, add additional tags, maybe multiple tags here to my chart. You can see those all get added nicely for me there.

Kent: It's on a small screen here, but I could certainly do other things like combine axis on these to a single axis, all that kinda stuff. So certainly, this is an easy resource to just load into your projects, utilize quickly, no fuss there. So, that's the first one I wanted to show you. But there are other types of resources as well. And so, let's go back into the Ignition Exchange real quick. The next resource I wanna download is... Let's go ahead and grab a diagnostics dashboard. So, gonna search right here for diagnostics and go to this diagnostics dashboard and click "Download." And this is another easy one. We're gonna come right in here, I'm going to import another file, I'm just gonna drag that in here from my downloads page and load it into that same project, say "Import", come back to the Designer.

Kent: And if I refresh this from the gateway again, then I can now see that it added inside views, we now have diagnostics, and we have this diagnostics page. If I just open that up, I'll show you what that looks like. Automatically, without me doing any configuration on this, it's grabbing a bunch of information from our system tags and from the gateway, so I can automatically see, the computer that I'm doing this demo on is the same one we record inductive university videos on, so you can see this is called Ignition IA University. I can see my time zone, I can see my gateway address, I can see the health of this system, so CPU usage, disc utilization, memory usage. I can see if it's set up with redundancy, if I had the gateway network configured, I could see other gateways I'm connected to.

Kent: In the client, it'll show you information about the client you've launched it on, including if it's on a mobile device. You'll see accelerometer and bluetooth and GPS information, all that kinda stuff. So you can just quickly add a diagnostics page, plug and play to your projects, it can be really powerful. So, I just wanted to show you that real quick, but for the sake of time, I'm just gonna chug through some additional resources here. So, another one that's really cool that I wanted to show you, I can come, grab an alarm analysis screen. Oh, here it is. Alright, alarm analysis dashboard. Go ahead and download this one as well. We'll go through the same process here where I import a package file, and I just drag that in, and when I come back to the designer here, refresh from the gateway, I can see it added alarm analysis here. And within alarm analysis, there's an alarm analysis view. If I just open that up here, then you can see it gave me a screen automatically that's tied into my alarms on my system. And so, this ties in nicely with our existing alarm page that I added, it shows the real-time alarms.

Kent: So if I go to that real quick, just to show the current alarms in the system. My alarms are error here, there's one from side A, from a receiver, all that kinda stuff. So those were the alarms on my system here. Just to show that those are the same alarms I'm seeing in here. I see that most frequent is side A there, longest duration is error, but I can see my alarm summary; how many of these alarms took place, average time to clear, all that kinda stuff. And this is something that I can set a start date and end date to analyze alarms for a specific time period as well. So, that's just another cool resource you can pull in, utilizing your projects automatically. And then, let's do one more resource, and I wanna kinda set the stage for this a little bit. This resource is gonna be a little more involved to set up. This is one that Kevin McCluskey built for our user conference in September, and he showed it and people got really excited about it, so I wanted to show it again today.

Kent: But essentially, this is my home page, there's nothing on here right now. And if I wanted to start building out a screen, for example, I can see I've got some tags. Two of the tags I have are tank one level and tank two level. I'm gonna go ahead and create a little screen here, so I'm just gonna take that, pull it out, say I wanna view that as a tank. And I'm gonna grab tank two, pull that out, also as a tank here. And for these resources, you can see that these tanks are pumping into each other, so kind of an inverse relationship there. So I could draw here maybe like a pump in between these. We'll go ahead and grab this guy, and I can certainly add pipes in between these as well. As I'm looking at the clock, we're gonna kinda rush this, so I'm not gonna draw any pipes for you guys today. But pipes are certainly available inside that same graphics, simple factory right there.

Kent: You can certainly come and grab individual pipes, start connecting these together, however you want it. But with this, I've just got two tanks connected to each other. And on those tank level tags, I'm storing history. And I'm showing the real-time values here, but wouldn't it be cool if I could do a historical playback function, so that rather than just seeing the real-time state of these and rather than just adding like a trend chart on these to show history, what if I could actually go back in time and have this play what these values were doing yesterday or five minutes ago, and show it as if it was a live HMI? That's what one of these resources in the Exchange gives you. So what I'm gonna do is come back to the Exchange. We're gonna search again, and I'm going to look for historical playback, Perspective historical playback. And I'm gonna go ahead and download that one. And I've been kinda skimming through these installation instructions.

Kent: I highly recommend that when you're actually loading these resources onto your projects, you do go and read these extensively, because sometimes they'll have tags they bring in or they'll have images you need to bring in or things like that. And some of those may be a manual process, and so you'll definitely wanna look at the installation instructions. But I'm gonna go ahead, import this package as well. Go to my downloads folder, grab historical playback. And I'm gonna load that into my same Ignition demo project, say import, come back to the Designer. And as I refresh that from the gateway, then I can go ahead and let's see, you gotta browse through ... We're trying to get lots of views, you know, that's the rapid development power of using the Exchange, there's lots of stuff in this gateway now. But I'm just gonna pull in this playback controller. And I'm gonna put this, it could just be a bottom docked window on my page. It could be whatever I want. But I wanna use this to control what is happening in these tanks.

Kent: And so to do that, if I click on the view here, the embedded views is what I should call it, I can go in and look at the properties. And this one's more complex than the other ones. It's got a bunch of properties defined on it, one of which is tags, and it's got some tag paths that are defined here. These are the ones that Kevin used in the Build-a-Thon, but instead, we want to bind it to whatever our tags that we're using on screen are. And so, I'm gonna go ahead and copy the tag path of my tank one level, paste that there, and then do the same thing with my tank two level, gonna copy my tag path, gonna put that here as one. And I'm just using the two tags, so I'll go ahead and delete that third entry. But you could do this for all the tags on your HMI screen. Just put all the tag paths in there. And then rather than immediately starting to come in and start playing with this, what you're gonna wanna do is, having... Rather than having these tank components bound directly to the tags, you're gonna want to bind the value of these to a property inside that playback controller.

Kent: So, I come in here, come into my embedded view, come to properties, parameters, I'm going to bind to the value of tank one level. And for this one, I'm going to bind to the value, click property, come in here in my embedded view, gonna grab the value of my tank two level, say okay. And that's all you have to do. These now are going through the filter of this Playback Engine. And so, if I hit preview here and I go to real-time, then these are just gonna update as if they were bound directly to the tag. And so, I can see the liquid going from this tank one into tank two, no problem. But if I wanted to see what this was doing in the past, I could go ahead and go into historical mode. And I could switch this to what it was doing at any given timestamp. This is showing me the past hour right now. And so, I can also then play it back from that timestamp. And so now, I'm watching as this liquid flows between the tanks. But another nice feature that's built into this is I could increase the speed of the playback. So now, you can see the liquid is flowing faster between the tanks. I could even go up to times four.

Kent: Now you can see that liquid is flying between these tanks. And so, I'm actually able to do historical playback now of my HMI screen very quickly, very easily. So that's a little bit about the Exchange and showing you how to load resources directly into your project. You know, what were we able to do in just a little bit amount of time? We were able to, you know, from creating a new project, go ahead and create an HMI screen to historical playback. We were able to not just have real-time alarms, but to do a full alarm analysis screen. And so, we added that. We also were able to very quickly add a diagnostics page that you could add to a client, be able to use, and we were able to replace our boring chart with a full ad hoc trend chart, have that tied into tags all very quickly. And so, I'm sure you have lots of other questions about what other resources are on there, and how do I start taking advantage of this today? But rather than just having inductive automation, really talk about these things, we wanted to give you some other insight. And so with that, I'm gonna turn it back over to Don.

Don: Kent, that was great, thank you so much. And I really kind of as you're going through that, I was thinking, I know we presented it at the Relaunch at our Ignition community conference, but it makes me think about what our CEO said. Part of his goal is to make integration fun again and to make it easy, fun, and affordable. So there's something that... On the easy button, that this really helps with. But to your point, I think it's important to hear from somebody else in that too. You could certainly see the Ignition Exchange gives you multiple ways to handle your resources. You can use the Ignition Exchange to store your Ignition resources privately as he said, so you can streamline your development process. You can also share resources within your organization to help speed up development across your organization rather than rebuilding assets over and over again. Colleagues can quickly build upon existing assets and complete projects faster, so you really get a strong asset base built up inside your organization to help developers across your entire, your whole company.

Don: The greatest benefit of the Ignition Exchange is the ability to share your resources publicly. The Ignition community, really, it has an incredible wealth of knowledge, as well as best practices on how to build an Ignition project. The Ignition Exchange allows the community to share ideas and best practices to help launch your project quickly and help you, as Kent showed, complete it in no time. But as he mentioned, while the Ignition Exchange can speak for itself about the amazing benefits it has to offer, we thought it would better really to let you have someone from the community share their experience with working with the Exchange, serving your customer, creating and sharing, so today we have, as I introduced earlier, Jason Hamlin, Senior Systems Engineering with Corso Systems, who can give you a little more insight with his experience and involvement with the Ignition Exchange and how Corso is using it. So Jason, over to you.


How Corso Systems is Using the Ignition Exchange

Jason: Thanks, Don. Man, that was a great demo, Kent [chuckle]. I started off by downloading Toddler Distractor and completely tuned out to everything. So I don't know what that says about me ...

Don: You were supposed to pay attention, Jason, for God's sake.

Jason: I don't what that says about me, but... Making integration fun again, Toddler Distractor is fantastic. I might add the playback to it and automate my laziness, so there's no limits to what I won't get done.

Kent: There you go.

Don: That's the creative thing we're talking about here, Jason.

Jason: So, yep, Corso Systems, we are an integrator, obviously, not an end user, but I come from an end-user background. And when we first heard about the Exchange and got the opportunity to take a look the couple of things stood out and resonated with us. One being, this was a collaborative resource. We are a remote office company, and sharing code among ourselves and in how we pass pieces back and forth, we've always had to roll our own solutions. And the Exchange has that ability to have internal pieces shared within a company, and that... Right away, that spoke to us, said, "Oh, this is built by Inductive, it's hosted and it's easy to use." We like that, but we didn't wanna just stop there in silo because the forums are one of the most fantastic places... Place for anyone. As an early end user, I survived by going to the forums. When Inductive... Excuse me. When Inductive University launched, that took me to new levels, allowing me to get to the point where I was good enough to be hired on as an integrator. So, there's been a lot of collaboration there. And we didn't wanna lose that.

Jason: I'm gonna talk about Factory Packs. We had a customer who had asked us to help them migrate off of one platform onto another. I won't name names. They wanted to make it easy for their operators in the least amount of transitions, so they wanted to replicate a lot of the functionality. They weren't gonna change up their PLCs, so they were already going to stay and exist. And those particular PLCs had their own tag data structures and linked well with their HMI screens and there was a lot of depth and complexity, so it came to us to replicate those features in Ignition, so that the operators had the same look and feel and everything would transition over very easily. And that's what we did, and they were happy with the outcome. So, when we were first approached talking about the Exchange, looking at it, we realized what resource could we give away, what could we do to help drive the rest of the community to say, "This is a valuable asset to everyone?" And how do we collaborate, how do we share?

Jason: As an aside, I'm one of the board members for the Ignition Cross-Industry Collective where end users get to share and collaborate and come together in a forum. And one of our tenets is to always give away value, to always help other users find value and build faster and leverage things like my former water/wastewater industry, we didn't have a lot of money, we didn't have a lot of development. But say, somebody in pharmaceutical or oil gas, who was able to build something amazing, that we in water/wastewater, were able to leverage and use that type of sharing. Or when we in water/wastewater saw a problem and found a solution and somebody in the oil gas industry was able to take that and do something with it. Opening up that type of collaboration, removing limitations on it, it's really what we felt the mission of the Exchange should be. So with that, we released our Factory Packs. I'll go through some screenshots. I'm not Kent, I won't do live demos and I still have Toddler Distractor running over here.

Jason: One of the first things with Factory Packs, when you're setting up your connections for your PLCs, you need to set up two connections to the same PLC. One as a standard — one is used as a standard scan class time and the other is set up as a least scan class time. Travis had helped us figure this out. There's so many tags in each data structure for this particular vendor that it can get overwhelming on your system, and you don't need it to. You only need to see and monitor certain important tags and when particular screens are opened to do things like maintenance or adjust setpoints, then you hit those tags. So, by actually enabling two connections to the PLC, you get a much better response time and faster overall system performance.

Jason: There we go. The faceplates that we're giving away or that we gave away were the ones that we had built for our customer, is an analog indicator and a PID controller. There's three different primary faceplates for the analog indicator and seven different faceplates for the PID. So you're seeing those highlighted here, there we go. This is what they look like. Actually, there's some pop-ups on here too, but you can see the PID controllers. You have a simple screen where you're seeing PV and CV. You have an indicator screen with a little trend-read out where you can see responses and what's happening. You have one that's showing PV and your setpoint CV. There's a valve control screen. Analog indicator can have simply just a number. You can have a trend. There's an analog indicator bar graph that's covered up by the PID operator interface, but those are some of the pop-ups. All of these faceplates are clickable and launch into pop-ups, which have many, many sub-windows underneath. This is an example of one of the configuration screens. And when you jump in, click on that PID, any one of those PID primary faceplates, you'll get into the controls and then each of the subsets opens up. So point is there's a lot of complexity.

Jason: There's a lot of depth to these things because that's what was required at the time that we built it. And once we built it that customer had no issue with us. They didn't buy it as proprietary to them, they just paid us to do the work. So for us to give it away, if you think of they say the rising tide floats all ships, the community is the water. We float each other. We aren't isolated ships. So our view of being part of the Exchange and participating, is that together all of us will create better and better resources. Having faster time to value, things that Don spoke about, being able to load fully working systems into your projects, seeing what others are doing and building upon it, you can't really put a value on that, and that's what I have for Factory Packs and why we participated.


Contributing to the Ignition Exchange

Don: Jason, that's really great. Thank you so much, totally appreciate your participation. Just as a wrap-up though, I'm gonna come back to you again for a minute. So I really would like each of you, first you, Jason, and then you, Kent, to summarize just your thoughts on the value of using and contributing the Ignition Exchange resources. Jason, you were talking about that just a second I go. I wanna give you a chance to... Any final statements before we move over into some Q and A, anything finally you'd like to say to sort of summarize your thoughts on that?

Jason: Yeah, thanks Don. Thinking about this, there's a picture floating around of my daughter as an 8-year-old playing with the Ignition, and not Toddler Distractor had I had that back then. And I've always thought that I had to learn how to explain what I do to her, explaining automation to her. So the best way I would summarize this is everyone's heard the adage teach a person to fish. Inductive University to me was the fishing lessons and the Exchange is the best free bait and tackle shop I'd ever come across.

Don: You really are a country guy at heart, aren't you there, Jason? I love your analogy there.

Jason: Thanks, Don. I'm just trying to convince Kent to take me fishing, that's what it comes down to.

Don: We're gonna go fishing here. Kent, your thoughts?

Kent: Yeah. First off, I just want to really thank Jason and Corso because obviously you can see that we've uploaded a lot of resources from Inductive Automation to the Exchange because we think it's valuable, not because it's a new way for us to increase our profit margins or something like that. We're just trying to make the customer's overall experience with the Ignition better, and so that's why we came up with the Ignition Exchange. It's a free online resource. Inductive Automation will continue to upload resources, but the real power of the Exchange, like Jason said, is the community. The people like you guys who are uploading valuable resources, things that took a lot of development time, so that just anybody can download them for free and use them, that's special and you don't find that everywhere in the industry. At Inductive Automation, we care about cultivating that community, and the Ignition Exchange is our latest expression of that. And so we're excited for the Exchange, and we, within the sales engineering team, work with customers to help build stuff for them all the time, and we're always looking for which things we can say, "Hey, rather than you paying us to build this for you, we're gonna build it in a generic way and upload it to the Exchange, and you can just download it from there."

Kent: So we're looking for opportunities to keep adding stuff ourselves to the Exchange and we hope that the community continues to upload stuff to the Exchange. We're also working on continuing to improve the interface as well. Keep an eye on the Exchange, not just for new resources, but new features like chatting with the authors, adding comments, adding ratings, all that kind of stuff. We have a pretty lofty goal for what we want that to be in the future and so Inductive Automation is really dedicated to making the Exchange better.

Don: Thanks a lot, Kent. I just wanna emphasize, maybe put a little punctuation point on what Kent said. It really is very important to us the value that you bring as members of the community. Some of you may be on this call are new to Ignition, some of you have known us for a long time, but I remember when we first started getting involved with the CSIA, Control System Integrators Association. It was a kind of a very sharing environment that was new to us, this is seven to eight years ago. I remember hearing from several members that one of the reasons they came there and shared so openly was every time they shared one idea, they got ten back. And the whole concept of sharing and a community that can actually raise the boats, make the water go up, and learn from each other, it doesn't make it less for any individual, it makes it more. So just a vote here to Kent's point of the appreciation for those of you who contribute and are just members of the community. I think all of us benefit from that, and there's no doubt about the fact that the quality of our software benefits from that. With that as a little wrap-up, we're gonna go into a Q&A. I wanna make sure that if you are new to Ignition, try it for yourself and download it. It takes three minutes. Ignition 8 and Ignition Perspective Module are free at

Don: Also, I would say, it was mentioned a couple of times, Inductive University, there are literally hundreds of videos there. I think five, six hundred videos there. Free Ignition training videos. There's also lots of helpful documentation on our user's manual, which you have here, So I really wanna make it clear that not only with the Exchange, but us, as just a philosophy here at Inductive Automation, we wanna do as much knowledge transfer as we can. Your projects become better, your customers get happier and everybody benefits from that kind of knowledge sharing.

Don: The last point on that, since it was mentioned by Jason in terms of a presentation that Kent and Kevin and Travis were involved in, ICC in 2019. Now we're coming to ICC 2020. Save the date, September 15th through 17th. It really is the only way you can get this unique opportunity to meet industry thought leaders from around the world, discover innovative real world use cases from multiple industries, you get core fundamentals, you get advanced techniques from the industry experts. Early-bird pricing is available through June thirtieth, so don't wait. ICC, we really have, we hold it as a local community college here. We've sold out the last three years. You don't wanna miss it, so get your tickets today or as early as you possibly can. 


Questions & Answers (Q&A)

Don: With that, I think it's time for us to take advantage of the time we have remaining for some Q&A. Is there any quality check or supervision upon uploading these resources into Exchange from Inductive Automation?

Kent: Yeah, absolutely, so we don't just — When people hit upload of their resources, it doesn't automatically get published live. We do some security scanning on them to automate and make sure there's no viruses or other bad things, plus we also have somebody manually go through them, load them, to make sure that the resource works. Now, we're not necessarily a judge of quality, that they're always following best practices and things like that, but we're certainly there to make sure you don't download something harmful to your system.

Don: That sounds great. Thank you very much for that answer. What is the difference between CV and the set point?

Kent: Jason, you wanna talk about that, talk about that one?

Jason: Well, set point is your set point. CV is your control variable. That's the variable being controlled in some of these PID loops. You command what you want it to be and the process variable and controlled variable would be two different elements. So, you're getting feedback on those, but the setpoint is what you're actually asking it to set it to.

Don: Thanks, Jason. The Symbol Library has been updated in the software, is it on the Exchange?

Kent: So the software or the Symbol Factory that I showed pulling in, like a pump and things like that, that's just inside the software. I know the Factory Packs, that resource. There were some images missing in the initial version, but that's been re-released. Right, Jason? That's all been fixed?

Jason: Yes, that's correct.

Don: Okay, that's great, thanks. Jason, were you gonna say something?

Jason: No, I was gonna say our engineer that's working on that bill, he's... It's an ongoing development for him. The fun part of Factory Packs, that particular PLC vendor makes changes every now and then. So when we have to make those changes for our customer, we are also pushing them out to the Exchange.

Don: Good. Thanks. Here's one:How are Ignition Exchange resources checked for any cyber security concerns?

Kent: Yeah, so we do some security scanning on those. We have a cyber security risk officer here at Inductive Automation, and we work closely with him on how we treat all those resources. So, yeah, we're taking that very seriously.

Don: Thanks. Next one, is the Exchange tool developed by Inductive Automation or is it a third party commercial off the shelf tool?

Kent: So the Exchange is a free online hosting service, which is provided by Inductive Automation. The resources that are on the Exchange are created by the community. So when you go and download a resource or look at a resource, you can see the author. And so, you'll see that many of those are by Inductive Automation right now 'cause we're trying to seed it, make it useful, but our hope is that it'll continue to have more and more community driven resources that are hosted on our service, if that makes sense?

Don: Yeah. I think you've answered this before, but the version is the minimum Ignition version that you're referring to?

Kent: Right, so when you look at the version for the resource, that's the minimum Ignition version 'cause we're backwards compatible.

Don: Okay, that sounds good. Could, next, could this diagnostic dashboard be used to monitor PLC systems, or it's just meant for Ignition systems?

Kent: That brings up a good point that these resources that you download, they're just views and templates and things like that. And so you don't have to just use them as fixed, untouchable pieces of your project. You can download them as a starting point and expand them out to do whatever you want, and so you could add additional boxes on there that are pinging the PLCs, getting values, checking diagnostic information, all that kind of stuff.

Don: Next question, can this work with Sepasoft SPC project?

Kent: Yeah, so once again, you're just in the Designer and so you can certainly mix and match stuff that you've pulled in from the MES components with stuff you download from the Exchange. So yeah, that's all compatible.

Don: Great, thanks. Will this webinar be available for download later? Yes, it will be. We'll be sending out... We send out to all the people who attended. Who didn't, you'll have access to it. The Ignition Exchange is completely free? Answer is, yes! It is completely free.

Kent: Yeah, one thing we didn't show is when you go to download resources, you do create an account. It's the same Ignition account you have, but once again that account is completely free. And then that just helps us, or helps you, track which resources you've downloaded, which ones you're watching, all that kind of, what ties you to an organization, all that kind of stuff.

Don: Oh, I forgot to answer this. Second question on the availability of the webinar. Is this available and other webinars available? Yes, and the archive's on our site on the resources section, I think you can get to. We've been doing webinars for a dozen years here. We do them every month, sometimes a little more than every month on various topics. A lot of them are just to educate, like we're doing today. So you can go there and search any of those. You can also search any of the dozens and dozens of case studies there across multiple industries that we have. So here's one for Jason. How do you manage liabilities when things go wrong because some users downloaded the shared resource?

Jason: You're asking me.

Kent: I can maybe jump in on that too.

Don: Okay, go ahead. It says for Jason, but you answer it.

Kent: So one thing, everything that is uploaded to the Exchange is now kinda download at your own risk. And so, there's, when you create that account that I talked about, there's a big disclaimer there that says, "You are downloading these resources for your own system. You do whatever you want with them. They're just open source resources." Now, with that being said, like I said before, we make sure that there's no security issues with them. But as far as like uploading them and overriding existing resources in your gateways or doing stuff like that, you could certainly cause problems for yourself. And so we highly recommend that if you're gonna be pulling stuff in from the Exchange, you're not adding that to a production system live, you do that on a test system, you get it all how you want it, and then you can export from that into production. So, just like any practice, if you're searching for a script and you find something on Stock Overflow, hopefully you don't just copy and paste scripts into your projects the same way. So be intelligent about it, but yeah, we are not accepting any liability for those things.

Don: When playing at a higher speed do you show all points or skip over points to just show moments?

Kent: So I assume that is for the historical playback.

Don: Playback. Yeah.

Kent: Yeah. What it was showing there is it's just skipping forward. Instead of every second it'll be every two seconds, or every four seconds, or every eight seconds depending on your speed, but once again, the component is there. You can customize it so that it plays it back faster if you want. Right now it's just designed to do it that way.

Don: Cool, thanks. Someone asked where ICC is happening. It's happening in Folsom, California, here in wonderful Folsom in the Gold Country of California. And as I mentioned, in September. So we have run out of time and overshot a little bit. There were still questions in the queue. I apologize we didn't get to all of them, but we will follow up and do that. I just wanna say thank you again to Kent and to Jason for a great demo and presentation and sharing. Much appreciated. With that we are wrapped up and we wish everyone a great day. Thank you for attending and participating.







Posted on January 14, 2020