Chief Strategy Officer
Chief Technology Architect & VP of Sales
Ignition 8.1 was released in late 2020, bringing many exciting new features like Perspective Workstation, Perspective Symbols, Power Chart, and plenty more. Ignition 8.2 will still be in the works for a while, but that doesn't mean that you have to wait long for new features and improvements. The Ignition software development team puts out “release train” updates nearly every month, and each one comes loaded with significant features that are based on user requests.
With the latest Ignition 8.1 release train update (Ignition 8.1.19) just around the corner, now is an excellent time to catch up on some of the latest and greatest features that you might not be using yet. In this webinar, we’ll show you more than 20 of our favorite updates so you can get even more out of Ignition!
- Visualization improvements to the Perspective Module
- Updated Designer tools and resources
- New capabilities in the Gateway
- Plus feature demos, Q&A, and more
Don Pearson: Well, welcome everyone to today's webinar, “New Ignition Features In Action.” I think it's going to be a fun one. We're going to cover a lot of good territory today. First off, my name is Don Pearson. I serve as Chief Strategy Officer here at Inductive Automation, and I'll be moderating today, but with me are Kevin McClusky, and he is the Co-Director of Sales Engineering here at Inductive Automation, and Matthew Raybourn, a Sales Engineer at Inductive Automation. So rather than me doing it, I'll let each of them give a little introduction of themselves and what they do here at Inductive. And Kevin, let's go ahead and start with you.
Kevin McClusky: Sure. Thanks, Don. Yeah, so I, as Don mentioned, I act as the Co-Director of Sales Engineering here at Inductive Automation, and what that means is I, along with the other Co-Director, run the Sales Engineering division. We work with lots of different customers, and I've worked with hundreds of customers over the years on their implementations, on some of their design choices, and also on helping them to understand the new features that are inside Ignition as we've been releasing them. So I'm excited to be talking about a lot of these features here today.
Don: Thank you, Kevin. And Matt, introduce yourself a little bit more.
Matthew Raybourn: Yeah, of course. Hi, everyone. I'm Matthew Raybourn. I am a Sales Engineer, so I'm actually on Kevin's team, and I've been with the company about four years now, and so over the years, I've worked with a lot of different customers; I help them out with their different kinds of solutions, architectures, modules, features. So I did have the opportunity to kind of play around with a lot of these different features along with customers.
Don: That is great, Matt, and you can play along with them a little bit today, too. So thanks for being here, to you and to Kevin. Here's the agenda for today's webinar. Today, we're going to focus in on new Ignition features so far, and basically, anyone unfamiliar, I think I'll start off by maybe telling you a little bit about our platform Ignition, and then we'll briefly discuss Inductive Automation's upgrade philosophy, which is a little different than most organizations, and then that'll lead us into talking about the release train. And then we'll get to the main section of the webinar, new feature highlights since the release of Ignition 8.1 in the fall of 2020. After that, we'll wrap up with some Q&A, as we always do. So if you have any questions during the presentation, type them into the questions area of the GoToWebinar control panel. We'll answer as many questions as we can at the end of the webinar. If we can't get to your question in time, though, I really want to encourage you to reach out to one of our very talented sales engineers. They can help answer it so you do get your question answered. And then I just want to answer one question that we always get preemptively. A recording of this webinar will be made available within the next couple of days for anyone who wants to view it again or share it with someone else.
Don: And for those of you who don't know, just here's a little background about our software platform Ignition. Ignition is a universal industrial application platform for HMI, SCADA, MES, and IoT. Ignition actually is used by 54% of Fortune 100, and the latest version is Ignition 8.1.19. It's got an unlimited licensing model, cross-platform compatibility based on IT standard technologies, it's a scalable server-client architecture, web-based, web-managed, web-deployed designer and clients, modular configurability, and rapid development and deployment tools. So far, I'd say if there's one thing to get, to take away from today's webinar, it would be that we are constantly improving Ignition. It's improving all the time. Instead of the more traditional schedule of one big release every few years, Ignition is constantly evolving through smaller upgrades in between the larger releases. And many features and changes that we implement into Ignition actually come directly from feedback we get from you in the Ignition community. Constantly taking things, we have an ideas portal where you can bring in your ideas, you can vote them up, and those things go straight to the development team.
Don: And so the constant improvement, we're striving to be connected to you as a community with your most important changes being made as quickly as possible. Hence that open line of communication, it means that even smaller upgrades can actually have large impacts on you and what you're doing with Ignition because they directly address what the wants and needs are of you in the Ignition community. It was important to us to establish a cadence for these smaller upgrades. We call that the “release train.” So about every five weeks, we introduce a new version of Ignition with new features, updates, and improvements. Since the release of Ignition 8.1 and up through 8.1.19, there have been over 170 new features added to the platform. With each new release, we publish a blog post outlining the most critical upgrades along with release notes that go into even more detail for you. Now with that, just as a basic set the stage for today, I want to take this opportunity to turn it over to you, Kevin, to explore some of the highlights since the release of 8.1.
Kevin: Thanks, Don. So as you can see here, we are highlighting a subset of those 170 or so features. We wanted to really talk about some of the cool things that we have inside Ignition that we've added over the last couple of years here. That's the main point of this webinar. We wanted to be able to show those to you. If you're not running on the latest version of Ignition, for example, and you're thinking about upgrading, you can get a sense of what's inside Ignition. If you've never used Ignition before and you're taking a look at some of these features, know that there's a whole slew of rich features that are part of Ignition already that aren't covered inside this webinar. And if you're taking a look at just the ones that we're highlighting today, you can tell from this chart right here that out of all of the features that we have, we only have time to highlight about 20. We're really squeezing it in here and we're trying to show off as many as we can. But out of that total 170 that we released or so for the last couple of years, it's a small section. So we always try to highlight these in our release notes and those blog posts that Don was just mentioning.
Kevin: And you can follow along with our newsletters and we're giving information about all these on a regular basis. We'll definitely hit the highlights here. So for those of you who are new to Ignition, wanted to just really quickly mention a few things about the Ignition architecture, about how Ignition is built, and what the designer is. And then we're going to jump right into these features. So the basic architecture right here, you can see the Ignition server in the middle. This is a simple architecture for a single plant that might not be too big, for example. And you have an Ignition server, you're going to be connected up to PLCs. And then you have multiple different systems that potentially are connected as well, a database. And you can see in the bottom right there, web-based designers and then web launch clients and touch panels, mobile devices. We're going to be pulling up the designer here in a little bit and we're going to show off a number of these features. As you probably know, Ignition is a tool set, so it's intended to allow folks to design data collection systems, IIoT systems, visualization systems, designer applications, and a lot of what we're going to be showing off here are part of the application design tools that we have inside Ignition as well.
Kevin: So it's going to be pretty cool. If we take a look at the next architecture here, just a sense of what enterprise and IIoT architectures can look like. And this is just one example right here. But we'll skip past that. And we pulled out a few things from the Ignition demo application here. And when you're developing an Ignition application, if you're using the Ignition design tools and you're taking a look at all the different ways that you can build out applications, what we've done at Inductive Automation, we've created, our sales engineering team has created a demo project out of a lot of these design tools already. And Matt, you're going to be doing a lot of these demonstrations. Would you mind actually pulling this up? This is available on our website. Anybody can go to it. But would you mind maybe clicking through a few of the highlights from this project so that you can share with folks who might not have ever seen Ignition before? Maybe just 30, 60 seconds here or something real quick.
Matthew: Yeah, sure. Of course. So I'll jump right into that. So our online demo project is, of course, available right at demo.ia.io. So feel free to check that out yourself. It is based on the Perspective visualization. So it's easily accessible right from your own web browser. You can see real-time data. You can see historical data, reporting, tables, all of that types of features there. There's also a demo apps section, which shows off more of a kind of self-contained specific project for a given vertical. So you can see a water/wastewater plant at a glance here. See all of the different information come through in one large overview. But we have other examples as well. In this case, the building management system that we have is another fully featured demo example that shows actual real data from monitoring our building here. So you can see, again, different kind of take on the visualization, different kinds of navigation, different kinds of theming, and it's all very interactive. So again, feel free to play around with this demo yourself.
Kevin: Thanks a lot, Matt. And as you said, all of this is available for anyone to go to at any time, right? So we had about seven or eight different vertical applications there. You can click through at your own convenience and play with that if you're interested. And then, of course, to build out these demo applications, to build any applications inside Ignition, there is the Ignition designer. And the Ignition designer is part of that design environment. It allows folks to build these applications. It allows you to set up data flows. It allows you to set up your IoT architectures. And data types and single source of truth with all of that and set up. There's probably hundreds of tools that are actually in here. So the Ignition designer is a really full-featured piece of software. And I wanted to mention that really quickly in case you've never seen it before because this is something that I know Matt is going to be using a bit as he shows off some of these features because we've basically built more tools over time that folks are able to use inside the Ignition designer to build things out and in a few places as well. So with that review out of the way, as Don mentioned, we had over 170 updates to choose from. So we've grouped the highlights into four different categories here.
Kevin: The first category of Ignition that we're going to talk about today is visualization. And more specifically, it's the ability to more easily and dynamically change the look and feel of projects, as well as applications, different tools, different components that we've added over time, and different parts that you can do inside the Ignition screen builders there. This is an area of Ignition that's gotten a lot of attention since the release of 8.1. And a few things that I'm going to highlight here. One of them is the Equipment Schedule Component. This is a new component that existed inside Vision but didn't exist inside Perspective. So we added that. It's a nice way to see things at a glance for what equipment might be running at different times. You can also use that for showing different people who are scheduled for different pieces. We added Pipe Drawing Tools. That has been an oft-requested feature, and that's built right in. We added better locale support for numerical locales. So basically formats based on where you are around the world that dynamically change. If somebody ends up launching a client from Europe and then one from North America, you're going to see the number formats with commas and dots in opposite positions.
Kevin: And it's going to be the exact same numbers that are coming through. And of course, you'll be able to see that in your own locale in the right way. We added, so better support for themes. There's a drop-down selector for that. We also added some mapping highlights. So there's a format called GeoJSON. We expanded that format support inside the Map Component, and that's going to be fun to show off. And we added a Split Container. This is a way of building out applications that this container allows for putting things side by side and letting a user choose what that split actually looks like. A user-adjustable slider is part of that. And then one other highlight that's not in the visualization building tools, but it is in the visualization category in terms of being able to understand what's going on inside of Ignition gateway is we added a feature that we call our Metrics Dashboard there. It's a drag and drop of metrics. And rather than talk more about these, I'm going to turn this over to Matt for the first demo. We have four different demos that Matt's going to be doing here. And each one is going to be showing off a set of features. So Matt, over to you for the visualization demo here.
Matthew: Alright. So yeah, starting off right at the top there, the Equipment Schedule Component. So this new component is just a standard Perspective component. You can drag right into the screen, and it gives you the ability to set up the different kinds of equipments or lines or anything else you're tracking just over time. Essentially, it's like a status chart, a Gantt chart, calendar all in one. To give you a quick example of the interaction here. I can just select a range, and then that could end up creating an event. So I could even do that, say, for another one. I could come back to one here, select it, remove it. Ultimately, it fires off some various events for resizing, moving things, adding, deleting. So you have control over what you do with those events, where the data comes from. Could be a database, it could be data set tags. It's really entirely up to you. So it's fully customizable in that way. The next example here is the pipes. So this pipes drawing tool is available in Perspective in the Coordinate Container here. So I've gone ahead and I've drawn an example using the pipes.
Matthew: The way this actually works here is I just brought out some simple components, some symbols here, and now when we switch to the actual pipe drawing mode at the top, you can see now there's some different anchors. I could click on any one of these anchors here and actually create a start of a pipe and then just begin drawing it. I could also take an existing pipe and resize it, move it, move a point, add a new point in the middle of it, even change things of how the pipe actually interacts. I can rotate it around. On top of all this, the pipes do have properties exposed. And because these are properties like any other, that means you can make them dynamic, bind them to something, change the color, change the look, the feel, all dynamically, even on the fly like that. So definitely a real powerful tool, real time saver when you need to draw out some kind of flow pipes or otherwise. It's also useful for things like electrical diagrams. You can just draw straight lines between all your various components there. So the next feature that we're highlighting here is the locales. So if I go in, in this example here and I look at my chart that is running, what we've added is the ability to actually bring in that kind of locale information to one of your charts.
Matthew: So if you have some kind of range here on the axis, that's the traditional kind of English system here with comma-separated digits and then a decimal point for the actual period for the decimal point. If I now switch that to something else, say German, it will actually swap that around and you can see now the 55 comma 81 versus the 10 dot zero zero zero comma zero zero. That's the actual difference in the display here as well as in the X-Trace as well. You can see the difference in the numerical format there. So this could be switched on the fly like that, which ultimately means the end user gets the look and feel that they are expecting. And a quick kind of note on that fourth topic that was mentioned, that update to the theming here, there's a nice handy drop-down selection right inside the designer. This works with not only the built-in themes, but of course any custom provided theme that you want to create and supply yourself, use that with it as well. And using that, we can easily come back and actually test that out in the design interface and then of course come back, switch that over.
Matthew: So you don't have to manually type in the name of your theme. You don't have to necessarily remember that at all. So that's definitely a helpful tool right there. Moving right along, the GeoJSON feature that we mentioned. So traditionally we did have some support for GeoJSON. That means you could come up to, you know, standard kind of GeoJSON tool, grab the example code required there, the values, and actually paste them into the Map Component in the GeoJSON layer. But we've added some additional kind of style objects to that, to where you can now even more fully feature, more customize those kinds of displays here. And again, because these are properties like any other, you could even bind to them to make them dynamic, make them highlight different areas.
Matthew: So definitely a lot of different options here that you can play around with. So that way you can get the kind of the effect that you're looking for, for your dynamic map system. And this new container that we mentioned, the Split Container is actually pretty powerful. It sounds pretty simple. It's just two different objects that you can set up and then have the user actually select the sizing between them with an intuitive drag and set kind of interface here, but if you imagine you could even nest these together, so that way the end user could actually get even more control, not just simple, you know, left, right, but also the vertical here we can adjust that. So again, certainly can do a whole lot more than what it may seem on the surface. So I'm definitely excited to see how customers take advantage of that.
Matthew: And this last feature is actually in the gateway webpage itself. So as mentioned, it's not part of the standard visualization tools you would use in the designer, but it is definitely a great visualization tool in itself. And it is available right inside standard just Ignition Web Interface here. So under status, we can look at the Metrics Dashboard and we can now start adding some kind of metric here. So this could be something as simple as, you know, what's the current CPU utilization? We could have the disk utilization and all these other points all in one go where we can easily see that. And if we navigate away and then navigate back to it, of course, it can remember what's going on with that through the use of the saving feature here.
Matthew: So if there's any kind of dashboard that you want to actually keep using, you can actually just create, save it, come back to it real quickly that way you don't, of course, have to redraw this over and over. That's definitely something that we've thought about. So as you can see, I now have everything I need at a glance and I can create multiples of these, save them so you can easily just view what's the current status or maybe compare different values instead of having to flip through the different status pages. And now, yeah, I can do that pretty quickly, pretty easily at a glance. Yeah, so that's the highlights of the different visualization features. So I'll turn it back over to you, Kevin.
Kevin: Matt, thank you so much for that first demo. We're getting a lot of questions in already. And if you're not familiar with the questions panel, go ahead and write in any questions that you have as we go along. Just from the volume we've gotten already, I'm sure we're not going to be able to get to all the questions. I apologize in advance. If we don't get to your questions, feel free to just reach out after the webinar. And we're always happy to talk to you on a one-on-one basis. But I've picked out a few that I think that we should be able to answer quickly. From a couple of different categories, there were a number that came out on the Pipe Drawing Tool. And then there was a couple that came in on the Ignition versions and what we recommend, what Inductive Automation recommends for Ignition's version.
Kevin: So I'll answer that one first that came in from a couple of different folks. The questions were, "What version of Ignition would you recommend sticking with a certain version of Ignition? Standardizing on it, sticking with it for a year and then maybe moving to another version after that. Or would you recommend keeping up with versions of Ignition as they come out and using the latest version for new projects?" I can tell you from my standpoint, so there are certain customers, certain end users that have standardized on specific versions of Ignition, especially folks that are in pharma, validated environments, things like that. But from my perspective, if you have the ability to run on the latest version, if you're not in one of those validated environments, I'd absolutely recommend to always using that latest version when you start a new project. And even before deploying a new project, it often can make a lot of sense to update to the latest version right before deployment, just to make sure that you've got the new features in there, you have any new bug fixes.
Kevin: We didn't really highlight the bug fixes, but we have a lot of bug fixes for our version here as well. And so we're always trying to provide those. And if you run into the latest version of Ignition, you have these latest features and you have the latest bug fixes from across the board. So yeah, I normally have no hesitation recommending that latest version of Ignition for starting new projects. The questions for the Pipe Drawing Tool, I'll turn these over to you, Matt. And maybe you can answer these quickly. So, “Finally, a pipe tool!” somebody says, "Can you set the pipe format/style globally?" And the quick answer to that is yes. And then, yeah, so there are properties that are under the Perspective session properties there that allow you to set the format and set the line gaps directly under that session on the session properties right where you're showing that, Matt. And then this last question that I wanted to throw your way, "Is there a way to create or generate pipes in a view from data coming from a CSV or XML file?"
Matthew: Yeah, essentially, because those pipes do have the properties associated with it, I could ultimately set up that property dynamically. So that could come from a CSV file. You could parse that, throw that in here. Really, you just need to know the coordinates and whatever other properties you need to control and then set that up dynamically.
Kevin: Alright, thanks a lot. Alright, let's move over to the next section here. So the next section is specifically on highlights inside the designer. As you know, Ignition comes with a prebuilt design environment, that's what Matt was just showing here. Improvements to that platform aren't only meant to be for the plant floor, they're also for accelerating that development process, making it easier, making it quicker to develop things, giving you better tools to use. One of the highlights here is the Tag Report Tool, which actually comes out today. We have the Ignition 8.1.19 release that's happening today that has this Tag Report Tool built in. I'll let Matt show this off. It's a really nice feature that actually has been requested for a long time, and we're happy to finally get this in there. I know the question will also be, is there a Tag Cross-Reference Tool?
Kevin: So I'll answer that question before it's even submitted. The answer is that we are going to have that in the next few versions of Ignition here. Those two go together. So the Tag Report Tool and that Cross-Reference Tool are both things that we've been working on internally. So we've released the Tag Report Tool first, and then that Cross-Reference Tool is going to be coming right after that, so over the next few versions of Ignition here. Perspective tooltips, we've allowed for the ability to add tooltips to any component inside Perspective. Resource documentation, this is something that's useful if you're designing a project and you want to allow different folks to work on it at the same time and also document some things along the way. So there's the ability to do documentation on individual resources as part of all of that. We added diagnostic tags for each one of the drivers. So in addition to the values that you see on the gateway webpages, which have been there for a long time, we've moved those into tags so that that could be used with things like [Ignition] Exchange resources that show those off.
Kevin: You can put those inside your own views. It makes it accessible so that they can have historian added to them or alarms added to them, which is a really nice feature inside there. And then we improved the Tag Editor pretty significantly as well. We took a lot of feedback from folks who had used the Ignition 7.9 Tag Editor and they had feedback for how it would be better inside 8.0 and 8.1. And we took that feedback into account and made some significant improvements to that Tag Editor, which Matt, I'm going to turn it back over to you and show off each one of those.
Matthew: Certainly. So, yeah, starting from the first one on the list there, we have the Tag Report Tool and this is a pretty powerful tool overall. So in your tag browser, inside the designer here, we now have a new option under the menu for this Tag Report Tool. This allows you to go in and set up different kinds of parameters for what you actually want to query in the tag provider that you have selected there. So we could just do a standard query for anything basically not good and then do a search and find out, yeah, there's actually an error right here, configuration, something's not actually correct on that tag.
Matthew: So with one click, we can actually see that. We could narrow that down maybe to just only ones with an error and further kind of filter that down. And as you're going through this, you can actually add custom properties that you need to search for, like what's the tag name, what's something like that besides what we're showing here. You can also save this search and then come back to it easily later. So again, I could easily just have one set up, find all bad OPC tags, find any name, you know, starts with the word “ramp.” We do support wildcards in this case here, so we can easily see what's going on, good or bad. Now on top of this, we can take this data and actually export it to say CSV file. So that way we get that as part of maybe a standard report that we could submit or save to disk there. So there's definitely a lot of functionality that's going to be useful right there. The next one that we have mentioned is the tooltip. So the tooltips now, if you were to go into your Perspective screen and you kind of drill down into one of your components, you'll actually see at the bottom right of your property tree, this kind of meta information, and there's a whole tooltip object.
Matthew: So we can enable that. We can provide some kind of text here for whatever this is. And now when we say mouse over that, we now have the ability to show that tooltip right there automatically. So you don't have to program that feature yourself, create any kind of pop-up view for that, it's now just simply something that you can set up. And, of course, you can restyle it and then because again, these are properties like any other, you can bind to them. On the same note there kind of globally with the design environment here, you can find the documentation field on all of your resources. So not just Perspective views, but certainly any kind of notes you want to add to a given resource, we now have that. We can actually see in the icon here that it is now on there as well as another custom one here, and we can actually mouse over that to see the note without having to open up the other view here. So that will certainly be useful. You don't have to keep notes separately or maybe keep them in a custom property anymore. You can just do that right from the design environment.
Matthew: The diagnostic tags that were mentioned are available under the System Tag Provider, so every Ignition system has this System Tag Provider. And it has, of course, other types of information, but the one that's highlighted is under your devices. You'll have each device listed there with some standard tags, including whether or not it's enabled. What's the current status of it? So if you want to log this, maybe set an alarm, as Kevin mentioned, so when it's not running, someone's alerted immediately, then you can now do that. And these are tags like any other, you could bring them right into a screen or go into the new Tag Editor here and actually start editing those tags. So on that note, if I look at any standard tag here, what we've done is we've added a category pane. So we can easily kind of tab through all of the different property categories here, especially ones like the alarms and the scripting, which would traditionally kind of take over the editor here. You'd have to flip back and forth as you edit those. Now I can easily just kind of sort through that rather quickly. So yeah, any kind of improvement, of course, we can do to something that's used regularly like this.
Matthew: Of course, we are definitely interested in that. And, of course, any kind of feedback, any other further improvement, definitely let us know, and we'll happily take that all into consideration. And again, if you go through this All Properties section and then you click on something like changing the security, you can see we automatically highlighted that. So again, we can go back and forth rather quickly. So with that being said, I'll turn it back over to you, Kevin, to continue with the feature highlight.
Kevin: Sounds good. And we have all sorts of good questions that are coming in. I think that I'm only going to have the opportunity to pick one or two categories from each section here. So I flagged a few for the new Tag Editor. Once again, if I don't get to your questions, I apologize. But one of these said, "Which version is the new Tag Editor?" That is in 8.1.17. That's where that dropped. That's different than the Tag Report Tool, and the Tag Report Tool is 8.1.19, which should be released today. "Is the tag report available to embed in sessions?" The answer is yes. So there are script functions that allow you to basically to tie it to tables, and you can feed it in with whatever you want for the configuration, and it gives you back the results.
Kevin: So you can absolutely create a view and have whatever UI design that you want with that, so that folks can use that directly inside there. That's one of the things that we thought would be a really nice feature, and so that script function makes it accessible. And what Matt is showing off right here is that if you configure it inside here, you can just copy as a script and that makes it easy to pull that in and drop it onto a screen or paste it here. So you can see those results are going to come back here, and we can print out those results from the last line for the tag query here too. “The Report Tool, can we autoreport on tag status?” And the answer is once again, yes. We're going to be talking about the scheduled scripts. And so basically you can run the scripts that we were just talking about on a regular basis, report on those, generate an email, generate an actual report with the Reporting Module, trigger whatever you want to based on the results that are coming back from there. So that's another nice feature that is part of this.
Kevin: Alright, let's keep going here. We're going at a bit of a breakneck pace. One of the things that we wanted to talk about is scripting. And so we've spent a lot of time focusing on this since 8.1. We've added a lot of features that really importantly make scripting faster. And so these features include an updated script editor, an autocomplete that is part of this. And rather than talking too much about these, I think once again, we'll show this off from Matt, but inside each one of these different sections, the scheduled scripting events, the doc configuration, the ability to control those through scripts, all of those things are things that are easy to show off.
Kevin: That updated script editor is nice in that it provides a new interface. It looks very similar to the previous one, but it has find-and-replace, code folding, visible white space, and other things. That autocomplete also allows for better code documentation for your team. So if you're creating script functions that are going to be used, then those can be documented and that documentation can be pulled into different areas. You don't need the scripting for every Ignition project. Simple projects might not use scripting at all and could just show some status and have some control and have bindings inside there. But if you are using scripting, some folks use it lightly and some folks use it heavily. And especially if you use it heavily, then these features are really nice features to have. So with that said, Matt, back over to you for a quick demonstration here.
Matthew: Yeah. So what we'll do is we'll just kind of jump right back into the design environment here, and I'll show kind of the updated script editor. And so if you use any kind of scripting inside Ignition previously, maybe you had to transform something like that. You probably were used to the old ways of showing the script editing. What we've done is we've now set the description as collapsible. We've set the parameters as collapsible. You can actually click on the parameter, which will autopaste it in for you, and you can see the autocomplete feature having its effect there. To show off that a little bit better, we can go directly to the actual script library section here, where I have a couple of simple functions that I've defined.
Matthew: And inside this again, we can use certain kinds of features here for, say, autocomplete. So now as soon as you hit that dot, it will actually pop it up. You don't have to hit Control+space anymore. We can click through and again, kind of find the specific function that we're looking for rather easily. If we select one of these from the list, we have the quick kind of view right at the top of what the function is. If there's any kind of parameters with it, of course, we also display that. And we had some of this information, of course, available before, but now it is definitely easier to use. But besides that, what we also have is if you have your own functions, you can now use that autocomplete feature as well. So you define your own libraries and functions in those libraries. We can now see that summary at a glance at the top, as well as the description that I've provided and any parameters, even ones with, say, default values are marked optional. So you can see real quickly what's going on with those functions. You don't have to flip back and forth to kind of look up what those are again.
Matthew: And then some other kind of features with the editor itself, of course, code folding, as mentioned. But also, if we right click the space here, we can see we can autofold everything all in one click. We can actually disable the autocompletion feature for a given scripting here. So if you don't want it to necessarily show up automatically, maybe it's just a nuisance, you can turn that off, as well as enable things like showing the tab lines and the white space. So if you want to see specifically that you didn't accidentally, say, mix the spaces and tabs, then you can easily find out what's going on with that. On top of that, we do have a search and find-and-replace tool now built in inline. So if I hit Control+F right at the bottom, we can actually find something here and highlight that. If I do Control+R, we can actually do that. And maybe I need to rename one of my variables here and replace that all in one go. So again, it's all in this one handy, kind of easy-to-use interface. So the next kind of main highlight here is in the gateway event, we have the ability now to use scheduled events.
Matthew: So previously, you may have seen the timer event where you can fire off a script every so often. But now you can actually schedule a script to fire at a very specific time. Some examples here, you know, every 2:10 AM every day, or say every 30 minutes. So it actually supports some different kind of characters here to represent some more kind of timer-based scripting, but it's still based on an actual schedule. So every 15-minute mark, every hour, pretty straightforward. There's also a lot of built-in options here, so you can see what kind of examples there are and just use those as is. Or if you know all the different kind of special characters, so every 10 minutes between 2:00 and 3:00 AM on the last day of the month, only be in January and July, you can set up a schedule for something like that. So it's pretty useful for some kind of automated reporting tool, including running that kind of script function here to do the new system that tag, that query function for that Report Tool. So you can take advantage of that with that schedule script there. And then lastly, that update to the AlterDock function here that's been added.
Matthew: So in Perspective, you can define different windows, different views, really that work as docked views. So typically for headers and navigation footers at the bottom, you can set up the configuration for that inside the designer here, fine-tune how that behaves. And a lot of it could be made kind of dynamic in the sense that it has different breakpoints and you can toggle them. But now we have the ability to actually alter that configuration on the fly using a script function. So to show that off real quick, I have a simple view here with the different buttons that call that function. So if I launch that page here, we can actually see kind of an effect of what that could do. So previously maybe you could open and close different docks, but now we even have the ability to say, change the size, expand it, shrink it, which means it could be done maybe based on some kind of alarm status expands the header a little bit to fit that, or even add something like now dynamically change the handle. That way the end user could get some kind of alert and pull out the menu themselves. So pretty powerful tools there that we are highlighting. And again, we are constantly improving. So with that said, again, I'll hand it back over to you, Kevin.
Kevin: Thanks Matt, and a couple more questions here that came in. I'm just going to pick the scripting category here for the questions that I have flags to answer right away. “What version of Python, Jython are we at right now?” That was a question that came in from Mark. If you are familiar with Ignition scripting environment, you know that it is Python through environment, an interpreter called Jython, which gives Python access to all the Java libraries behind the scenes. So that's why we use Jython. Jython is at version 2.7 and specifically we're on 2.7.2, a release of Jython, which I think the 2.7.3 release is right around the corner. The Jython project is working on a 3.0 release. I think it's actually a 3.8 release, but that's not ready for production yet. And so after they do release that, we'll certainly take a look at including that inside Ignition. Python 2 and Python 3 are different languages and they're not compatible with each other. So if we did include Jython 3 when it's released, we probably need to have some sort of a drop-down so you can pick which scripting environment that you were using.
Kevin: So that's where that's at right now. The only actual release version is that Jython 2.7 and that's what we're using behind the scenes. It used to be 2.5, we updated that a number of versions back here with Ignition. So everything's 2.7 and it has been for a couple of years now. The other couple of items here, “I love that custom library support. Love the changes.” I guess we're getting a lot of love here. So, “Love the changes to the scripting and the Tag Report Tool. Any other quality-of-life changes/features for integrators/designers close to release?” The biggest thing I think is the Tag Cross-Reference Tool, which is still a few versions out. But what that's going to provide is basically the ability to select a tag and see where that tag is actually being used, which is a really nice feature that folks have asked for, for a long time. So if you have direct bindings to a tag from different windows, different Vision windows, different Perspective views in different places, if you have references inside scripts, often it can be useful to know where those are actually used. If you have other tags that are expression tags referencing that tag.
Kevin: And so the Cross-Reference Tool is intended to allow for being able to find that much easier and report on that type of thing, as well as report on things like the tags that are on a window. The feature set is still subject to change so it's not, everything that I'm mentioning right now is some of the design ideas. But when it gets close to release, we'll know exactly what's inside it. But I'm pretty excited about that tool because it's going to make a number of things quite a bit nicer too. So alright, those were the ones that I picked out there. Yeah, keep the questions coming. As I said, we can't get to all of them. But we're trying to pick out the categories that we can get to. And so the next category here as we're coming close to an end of the webinar, is the last category. And this is supporting technology changes. So as you know, Ignition's feature set is always improving. It's improving all the time. And we have underlying changes in some of Ignition's supported protocols and subsystems. And we decided to highlight a few of those here.
Kevin: So the Authentication Challenge is one that's nice for things like 21 CFR Part 11 or other things that you have to have some sort of validated actions where somebody might need a supervisor to log in or at least put in their credentials to verify an action before you're able to write to a tag or make a change to a running system. Caching and sharing is a nice way that we've optimized certain actions so that you don't run, if you have 100 clients you don't necessarily need to run the same logic 100 times. You can potentially have things set up where it's going to run a query a single time, for example, for all 100 of those clients, even if the 100 are looking up the same thing. Third-party OPC UA support, we added OPC UA redundancy, which is nice for if you're connecting to an external server that has support for that as it is inside the spec there. And we added project update scripts that are basically they have better parameters to be able to integrate better with version control systems. So if you're committing your changes over to Git or another version control system so you can see the changes, it allows you to see who made those changes. You can log that type of information along with whatever commits that you might be making. Once again, Matt, over to you for a quick demo of these.
Matthew: Alright. So yeah, jumping into that first one there, the Authentication Challenge feature. So this was added so that way the operator that's using Ignition's interface here, say in Perspective like this, if they need to make a change that requires a separate authentication, maybe from a supervisor, then they don't have to somehow log out, have the other user log in and then switch back over. So it's designed to be a little bit more kind of streamlined for that process. And so now the way that works is inside your event here, you can call an authentication challenge. You can provide a payload of information along with that. So when this gets triggered, it will end up calling a session event to respond to that session authentication challenge here. So we can then take that payload and then do what we need with it, if of course it is successful there. So the user, the actual operator will actually just see that kind of interface pretty seamlessly through the standard kind of auth challenge, the experience that you would use for normal kind of logging in.
Matthew: So if I go to that page now and take a look at that, I can add whatever value I want here as essentially this is the payload essentially, I click the button to do the off challenge. And if our IdP is cooperating with us today, it would trigger the login page here where we can log in and then continue on with that. So in the next kind of example that we have here is the Cache and Share option. So in any of our example pages here where we might be running say some kind of polling tasks or some kind of query task, let's say we had a table that had some kind of query binding on it. There's a new option that is enabled by default called Cache and Share. So you'll be able to take advantage of that. Of course you can disable it if it makes sense for that given application. The way it works is whatever results is going to be returned based on this query for the set amount of kind of polling time here, we're actually going to cache that, so if you have multiple screens looking at the same query, there's no sense in requerying the database and hitting that database multiple times over for the same exact kind of data.
Matthew: So we can easily just share that with all of the running screens that are looking at that same data. So that's definitely a good performance uplift there. The other feature that we've mentioned that's kind of the underlying support that may not be necessarily obvious just looking at it is the fact that with Ignition we have an OPC UA server built in and inside that we do have support for redundancy now, so third-party clients can actually connect into Ignition and then be able to failover to the backup Ignition system with regards to OPC UA. So that means you can now fit Ignition into more highly available type of architectures and then reliably failover to that backup system. And we do have some settings here if you do want to configure that under the server settings advanced options. So you can go through your own system and set that up. And then once we...
Kevin: And one quick note there that I wanted to make is the... So in addition to the settings that Matt was just showing there that have to do with Ignition's redundancy and how the binding works there with the different OPC servers, the support for the OPC redundancy that is based on the OPC spec is actually not directly tied to what we're looking at here, but it is tied to OPC servers that we are connecting to. So for example, there's a number of different external software packages that have OPC servers that Ignition might be making an OPC UA connection to. Those servers potentially can implement that OPC UA spec that as the redundancy between the master and the backup that they have inside there and that redundancy settings, those set of settings inside there identify where the two different servers are.
Kevin: When Ignition... When the Ignition client is connecting to those, then it will automatically switch over from the main one to the backup one if it loses connection with the main one, and it now understands those pieces of the OPC spec. If you have a client connecting into Ignition, you can use the standard failover between if one fails, so you can go to the next one and some of these settings are related to that, but it doesn't actually publish out those redundancy tags as of right now. I just wanted to make that clear. We are looking at adding that piece in the future, but I didn't want to lead anybody in the wrong direction here. So that was my only additional note here.
Matthew: Yeah, Kevin, I believe that was released in 8.1.10, so I think good there. So I think at this point we should have support for both server and client side just overall for the OPC UA, which is definitely good. So yeah, so the last point here that we wanted to highlight is in the project settings here under the gateway events, we have an update event, which means anytime someone saves a project in the designer here, this event could be called with a standard Python script here. And we now include additional parameters. So that way you know what resources were added, modified, removed, and who's the actor, who's essentially holds the user for responsibility for that update. Also there's a Boolean here for if the manifest has changed. So essentially if a change has been made to project settings on the gateway itself, that might not be an individual resource here. So using that information, you can now have better support for version control and maybe some automated auditing here so you can find out what's going on as the project gets updated there. So that was the last main feature that we were highlighting here. So I'll jump right back over to you, Kevin.
Kevin: Great. One note here is that as you know, Ignition is improving all the time, so we really do invite your feedback and we'd like to get that information from you if you have feedback that you want to share with us. A lot of our releases and a lot of the features that you're seeing here have to do specifically with feedback that we're getting from customers in terms of what they need, in terms of what the industry needs, and we very much want to support your efforts as you're building things. So the website that you see right there, that is a link. Go to ideas.inductiveautomation.com and that full URL points you right at those Ignition features and ideas. With all of that said, I'd like to turn this back over to Don who is going to bring us home with the last few things here. So Don, thanks for letting us talk about this, you know, everything that we've been talking about for a few minutes here and back over to you.
Don: Well I just want to say to you, Kevin, and to you, Matt, I really enjoyed that. That was a great run through of a lot of features. I can't believe the number of questions. So encourage what Kevin said. Follow up, ask it again, contact us. Just a couple things here in wrapping up. If you watched all this demonstration and you've never tried Ignition for yourself, I mean, you can download it. You get the most recent full version, 8.1.19 right now. It only takes three minutes to download and you can use it in trial mode for as long as you want, absolutely free. So please get in there and just learn on your own. So that's one point. The second thing in terms of helping you learn on your own has to do with our university. Once you download Ignition, we've got a free online training website called Inductive University. You can learn all about it and how to use Ignition. Hundreds of free training videos are there and you can just learn it step by step. Learn it at your own pace. Additionally, we've got a comprehensive online user manual that you can refer to anytime you want.
Don: Also, I would be remiss if I didn't mention ICC X, Inductive Automation. We're going to be hosting Ignition Community Conference. This year we're giving you two ways to attend. You can attend the live in-person event in Folsom, California, September 20th and 21st and/or virtually on October 3rd-5th. The virtual event will include exclusive workshops, for those of you who want some technical training on more complex topics, and there's time to register for both in-person and virtual events. So visit the website there. It's icc.inductiveautomation.com for more information on the conference. We've got a schedule, speakers, anything else you may want to know about that. I also noticed a tremendous number of attendees from around the world on today's webinar. So for those of you outside of North America, we want you to know that we have a network of international Ignition distributors. They can provide you business development opportunities, sales and technical support in your language, time zone. Basically, you can learn about the distributors in your region. They're listed here and they're on our website or you can contact Annie Wise who is a manager that manages that program. And finally, if you want to speak to one of our account executives, I noticed there was a question here about contact details for engineer in India.
Don: I know Myron here has a number of folks working in India, so do another of our account executives. So please don't hesitate to call us here in California, 800-266-7798. They have the extensions here so you can get in touch with anybody you need, not just in India but if you have questions any place around the world. Now, that was a whirlwind demonstration by Matt and Kevin. Lots of Q&A. We're now at the thank you stage here. So thanks to all of you as the final slide here for just joining us. But please don't hesitate to contact us on social media. You can reach us through these various vehicles. We'll be back next month with another webinar, so don't miss it. Until then, get all of our latest updates through these social media things, sign up for our weekly news feed. And with that, thanks for your participation today. Bye for now, and have a great day.