Announced last fall during Inductive Automation’s Ignition Community Conference, version 8 of the company’s principal software platform has moved out of initial beta testing and is now open for public beta testing at inductiveautomation.com. More than 1,000 private beta testers have been working with Ignition 8 since October, the positive results of which led Inductive Automation to formally announce at ARC Industry Forum 2019 that the new version of the software will be ready for full release in April.
During a presentation at the event, Carl Gould, co-director of development at Inductive Automation, provided more information about the new version, expanding on details initially provided at the Ignition Community Conference. These additional insights largely focused on the enterprise-level architecture, security and mobile aspects of Ignition 8.
“We’ve made it easier for large teams to work together building projects in Ignition in collaborative, concurrent development with no designer lockouts,” Gould said in reference to the enterprise architecture capabilities of the new software. “This allows for big projects to be completed more quickly. And with the addition of project inheritance capabilities, when you make a project, it can inherit resources from other projects. This means that you can define and reuse templates across multiple projects, and even create corporate standard templates that can be customized for each site.”
One component of the architecture changes made during the redesign of Ignition involved the software’s underlying tag system. Gould said Inductive Automation added User Defined Types (UDTs—a tool used in Ignition to build and update tag models) on top of the software’s existing tag system in version 7.4. This addition, and the ease it brought to tagging in Ignition, led more of the company’s customers to move past the million-tag mark.
The problem with this, Gould explained, is that when you use UDTs in such a large system—i.e., a million plus tags—rolling out changes takes time, which can cause slowness. “So, in planning for the future, we rebuilt the tag system for development at scale,” he said.
This change means Ignition can handle tag editing 190x faster, move tags 90x faster, and enable 18x faster tag browsing and 15x faster tag importing.
Another enterprise-level enhancement to Ignition involves source control. Gould said this capability has been a major request of customers who like to use source (or version) control tools from sites like Github. “This required a ton of work and difficult changes to the core of the platform,” Gould noted. “But the software is now fully compatible with source control systems to help users manage deployment and automated testing. As difficult as it was to enables this, we love positioning Ignition so it can work with state-of-the-art tools.”
Our earlier article on the announcement of Ignition 8 detailed a good deal of the features around Ignition’s new visualization module, known as Perspective. “It’s not a desktop mobile application that's been bridged for the web,” said Gould. “It’s been designed from the ground up to provide a true mobile experience that can run on any browser—even to the extent of enabling the incorporation of mobile device native apps, like the camera, sensor and GPS capabilities.”
He pointed out that Vision applications (the previous Ignition visualization tool) will continue to work in Ignition 8, but will not become Perspective apps.
Explaining how Perspective was optimized for speed, Gould highlighted the fact that no polling is involved in the visualization process. “It’s all done via push, so there’s no delay,” he said. “And any new capabilities users add to the software are available as soon as they hit save.”
A demo of Perspective is available in Apple’s App Store, Google Play, and at demo.inductiveautomation.com.
Gould also noted that Perspective is not just a web-based dashboard system, but a tool with “full, bidirectional capabilities to set recipes and control devices.” A feature set that brings us to the security updates made to Ignition 8.
According to Gould, Ignition 8 now offers federated identity capability. This refers to the way in which a person'selectronic identity can be stored across multiple distinctidentity management systems. As an example of this, Gould referenced how it’s possible to sign in to different systems using a Google ID. Essentially, this capability enables single sign-on and two-factor authentication security features.