Road to Gold - Ignition 8.0
Updated: Mar 27, 2020
I'm Audrey Thatcher, and I've been with GPA as a Senior Application Engineer developing software and systems for different facilities for over two years. I recently passed the test to receive my Ignition 8.0 Gold Certification!
Ignition is a SCADA platform developed by Inductive Automation, and Inductive offers a certification program to affirm one’s ability to use the software to design and develop systems for controlling and monitoring manufacturing processes. Of the two levels of the certification program, Core and Gold, Gold is the higher level with a much more rigorous test than Core. GPA is working towards becoming a Premier System Integrator with the Ignition platform. In preparing for this test, I learned a great deal about Ignition’s capabilities; in this post, I will highlight some of the more interesting and useful features I found!
Perspective and Styling
Ignition has a module called “Perspective” which is a whole framework dedicated to the creation of displays which work in any modern web browser. Thankfully, the Ignition interface is still very user-friendly, so you don’t need to know much about web development to create Perspective pages. But if you are familiar with web development, then Perspective should be very easy to pick up, especially relative to other SCADA packages which use proprietary, closed systems instead of open standards.
Because it all just goes into a web browser, you can use just about all the CSS that your browser can support. There are exceptions – no CSS variables here, sadly – but most of the specification is accessible, either through the provided interface for tweaking style settings, or through manually defining any properties which are not currently available in the interface.
One of the coolest components included within the Perspective module is the Dashboard component. It can be configured with a list of “widgets” – other small Perspective pages that you have created – and has a grid whose dimensions can be changed to just about anything.
When this module is placed onto a Perspective page, a user who is viewing the page will have access to an “edit” button which lets them select from the list of widgets defined earlier and add them to the page anywhere on the component’s grid. The widgets can then be resized, moved around or removed; if you set them up for it, they can even support individual settings so that a user can further customize what data is shown by the individual widgets.
Any edits that a user makes to the dashboard screen stays local to them. None of those changes will affect any other users, so everyone can have their own individual, customized view into their facility’s data!
Freeform Event Handling
Ignition screens can be made up of many different objects – text boxes, buttons, graphs, and more. These objects have a lot of properties: what data are they showing? Are they visible? What’s their position on the screen? And there will often be times in your system where you want to have something happen in response to changes to those properties, such as the text in a text entry field being changed, or a value in a graph reaching a certain point.
It requires some light scripting knowledge, but Ignition allows you to watch for a change to any property, no matter how minor or obscure, and then act as soon as the change occurs. For example, maybe you want to block the user from clicking the “Submit” button if a text input is blank. You can easily set up a script on the text input to watch for changes to the text input’s “text” property. Then you can set the button’s “enabled” property to True or False depending on whether the “text” property is blank or not.
(A few of the properties available on a text input in Ignition)
These are just some of the features I have found to be useful in my studying, research, and design efforts with Ignition in preparation for the 8.0 Gold Certification test. I feel like I am better equipped now to create functional and easy-to-use HMIs and dashboards for just about any kind of facility. Ignition has become a big part of what we are doing here at GPA, and we are looking forward to continuing to use it on several upcoming projects.
To learn more about GPA and the solutions we provide, go to www.global-business.net.