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VTScada 12.1 adds functionality, boosts performance

March 17, 2022

“It’s moving from one script path to multiple paths that don’t interact except in very controlled ways.” VTScada President and Founder Glenn Wadden explained Version 12.1’s new “bubbles” functionality, which promises to further boost the software’s already impressive speed of execution.  

On the heels of Barry Baker’s introductory comments at VTScadaFest that included an update on VTScada’s 2020 acquisition by Delta Electronics, Glenn Wadden, president and founder, seemed mostly relieved to have that business behind him. “Now we can get back to the most exciting part of the job,” he said, taking the keynote stage. “The new stuff in release 12.1 is almost there!” he exclaimed.

Dating back to the early 1980s when Wadden first cut his SCADA teeth developing a telemetry system for a 256-byte (yes, byte) pumpstation controller, Wadden puzzled over how to make creating such systems easier. “But with each system having a different set of requirements, how do we deal with that?” Wadden wondered aloud. This formational experience shaped the guiding principles by which he has continued to operate VTScada by Trihedral since its founding more than 30 years ago. “Our goal is to solve problems, but also go the extra mile to make it easier for the user,” he said. “Now, that’s our fuel. Also, as always, it’s being fair to employees, to our customers and to our partners.”

He then turned to the subject at hand, sharing with VTScadaFest 2022 attendees the list of enhancements and new features scheduled for release in VTScada 12.1—an impressive list that a less modest software developer would certainly have rounded up to Release 13.

Batch management, embedded video and VOIP without internet too

To better suit the needs of batch process manufacturers, VTScada 12.1 includes a new suite of batch recipe management tools demonstrated during a VTScadaFest break-out session by Joseph van de Kieft, R&D software developer for VTScada. “This customer-driven effort had been possible before, but required a lot of custom code,” van de Kieft said. “With the new tag types in Version 12.1 you can easily run any number of configured ingredients, recipes and recipe books.”

Video, including camera feeds as well as browser windows can now be easily embedded within VTScada displays. Wadden demonstrated this functionality in a post-keynote show-and-tell. “RTSP video streaming protocol, as used by Netflix, supports a wide variety of camera hardware and decoding schemes,” said Wadden.

Alarm notifications will get an upgrade as well, with a new voice-over-internet protocol (VOIP) option that replaces the need for antiquated voice modems and doesn’t requirement a public internet connection. “Users now have the option of internet-free VOIP, text messages or email,” explained Ryan McPherson, VTScada developer. “Version 12.1 gives you much more flexibility to configure and escalate SMS text, voice and email notifications among a roster of contacts as well as capture who responds.”

Performance plus functionality

Some enhancements scheduled for Release 12.1 such as a faster new installer are focused on making life easier for developers, said Wadden. The ability to transparently import tags from OPC servers and the ability to readily filter tags when browsing will help speed application deployment. A new function builder capability will allow developers to create custom functions such as for strapping tables used to perform tank volume calculations.

In the category of improved user flexibility are enhanced touchscreen support for onscreen keyboards, and the support of multiple thin-client monitors.

Driver performance has been further enhanced, up to 10x in some cases, Wadden added. But the new capability with the greatest performance implications is the advent of “bubbles,” that is, the ability to run a different piece of VTScada code in parallel with the main VTScada application.

“It’s moving from one script path to multiple paths that don’t interact except in very controlled ways,” Wadden explained. For example, one might relegate a Modbus driver into a separate bubble in order to increase the performance of the core. This new approach helps to reduce CPU demand and take full advantage of the multiple cores available in today’s advanced multiprocessors.

About the author: Keith Larson
About the Author

Keith Larson | Group Publisher

Keith Larson is group publisher responsible for Endeavor Business Media's Industrial Processing group, including Automation World, Chemical Processing, Control, Control Design, Food Processing, Pharma Manufacturing, Plastics Machinery & Manufacturing, Processing and The Journal.