It's often said that good things come to those who wait. So, as much as its many users enjoy working with Ignition SCADA software and succeed with it, they've also been using Version 7 for the past nine years and have been more than ready for some new capabilities. Well, after two years in development, the wait is over and Ignition 8 has landed. However, it's been upgraded to the point that it's morphed from web-based SCADA software into a full-blown industrial application platform, according to Carl Gould, co-director of software engineering at Inductive.
"There were two trends inspiring development of Ignition 8," says Gould. "The first was Inductive Automation's market position evolved, and systems of one or a few sites that Ignition went into five years ago grew along with their organizations, and now they need tools that go with enterprise-sized deployments. The challenge for many large enterprises is workflow—trying to manage applications across many sites, developing standard corporate templates, and synching all their deployments.
"Ignition 8 helps with all these because its primary features for large enterprises are compatibility with source control systems and improved collaboration development. Also, because Inductive Automation's licensing has no tag limits, many users built bigger and bigger systems over the years. As a result, we also re-engineered the underlying tag system in Ignition, so it's faster again and uses less resources."
Not surprisingly, the second major development that inspired Ignition 8 is that smart phones and tablet PCs have taken over industry, just like they've done on the mainstream/consumer side. "Ignition 7's desktop-based technology didn't serve the requirements of smart, mobile devices as gracefully as needed," explained Gould. "This is why we developed Ignition 8's biggest, new feature—Ignition Perspective Module—which is a drag-and-drop design and application-building environment in Ignition 8 that lets users construct mobile-capable and -responsive screens, interfaces and applications that best meet their unique requirements."
After users create interfaces and applications, Ignition Perspective Module also serves as their visualization system. It's available in two versions, mobile and browser, which can be used on their own or together.
To further aid its increasing users and expanding enterprises, Ignition 8 lets multiple designers work on the same projects at the same time, use the same resources without locking each other out, and merge all of their changes together. "Ignition Perspective Module is for all of our customers who have been asking for a first-class, web-based, industrial, application-builder platform and SCADA system," adds Gould.
With the tag system improvements that are part of Ignition 8, edits to definitions of user-defined types (UDTs) are applied much faster, making large tag models more responsive. "In Ignition 7, if a user wanted to add an alarm to 1,000 valves, they'd have to build all those tags, and wait a minute for the devices to update," explained Gould. "Ignition 8 can use UDTs to apply these changes on the fly in 10 milliseconds."
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Ignition Perspective Module is its ability to bring in information from the smart phones and other mobile devices on which it's running. "We found it can use data from the GPS, camera, Bluetooth, accelerometer and other devices on the smart phone, and users want to incorporate this input into their industrial applications," explains Gould. "For example, just as a smart phone's GPS knows where its users are and directs them to the right location, our users driving around in an oil field can now have phones that know what well they're at and bring up the right screen for it. This is really exciting because Ignition 8 and apps built with Ignition Perspective Module can take advantage of all the data from the smart phone's sensors and its capabilities."
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