The development of the applications is typically done in two stages. First the process parameters and associated information (e.g. relating to alarm conditions) are defined through some sort of parameter definition template and then the graphics, including trending and alarm displays are developed, and linked where appropriate to the process parameters. The products also provide an ASCII Export/Import facility for the configuration data (parameter definitions), which enables large numbers of parameters to be configured in a more efficient manner using an external editor such as Excel and then importing the data into the configuration database.
However, many of the PC tools now have a Windows Explorer type development studio. The developer then works with a number of folders, which each contains a different aspect of the configuration, including the graphics.
The facilities provided by the products for configuring very large numbers of parameters are not very strong. However, this has not really been an issue so far for most of the products to-date, as large applications are typically about 50K I/O points and database population from within an ASCII editor such as Excel is still a workable option.
On-line modifications to the configuration database and the graphics are generally possible with the appropriate level of privileges.
B. Development Tools
The following development tools are provided as standard:
- a graphics editor, with standard drawing facilities including freehand, lines, squares circles, etc. It is possible to import pictures in many formats as well as using predefined symbols including e.g. trending charts, etc. A library of generic symbols is provided that can be linked dynamically to variables and animated as they change. It is also possible to create links between views so as to ease navigation at run-time.
- a data base configuration tool (usually through parameter templates). It is in general possible to export data in ASCII files so as to be edited through an ASCII editor or Excel.
- a scripting language
- an Application Program Interface (API) supporting C, C++, VB
- a Driver Development Toolkit to develop drivers for hardware that is not supported by the SCADA product.Parameter values at the cursor position can be displayed. The trending feature is either provided as a separate module or as a graphical object (ActiveX), which can then be embedded into a synoptic display. XY and other statistical analysis plots are generally not provided.
C. Object Handling
The products in general have the concept of graphical object classes, which support inheritance. In addition, some of the products have the concept of an object within the configuration database. In general the products do not handle objects, but rather handle individual parameters, e.g., alarms are defined for parameters, logging is performed on parameters, and control actions are performed on parameters. The support of objects is therefore fairly superficial.