Modern automisation systems solve complex tasks that go well beyond plant control. The procedural programming, in accordance with IEC 61131-3, allows multiple tasks to be solved in an efficient and structured way. This is where the PLC Developer supports the system programmer through all phases of software development.
Synergies in the SolutionCenter
The seamless integration of the PLC Developer into the SolutionCenter provides added value from the resulting synergies:
- By linking PLC projects in a Solution project with device configurations and templates, they can be combined to form an overall solution and managed as one.
- The version management function using GIT and SVN enables the user to trace code modifications easily and provides the basis for effective release management.
- The use of extensions, in the form of plugins, which can also be directly installed from the Eclipse Marketplace, simplifies engineering and programming.
- The SolutionCenter scripting API enables the use of modern software development methods such as continuous integration, model-driven development and test-driven development.
Efficient programming and management
The clear and intuitive editors allow modern and efficient operation:
- The user-defined syntax highlighting increases the code readability in »Structured Text« (ST).
- The modern and clear design of the user interface for programming in »Continuous Function Chart« (CFC) also allows a good overview in large programs.
- Thanks to the fully available code navigation and call hierarchy, it is also possible to easily identify interrelationships in complex applications.
- Efficient programming is particularly enhanced by the context-sensitive autocomplete function and the predefined and extendable code and file templates.
- Project management in one workspace enables all changes to the source files to be stored in a local history. These can be called again at a later time irrespective of whether the project is version managed.
- An extensive validation function immediately notifies the programmer of programming errors when the program is edited. Quick fixes correct missing program sections such as variable declarations by adding them automatically.
- Information on interfaces and documentation of function blocks or variables can be called and displayed via tooltips without leaving the editor.
- The project-wide changing of identifiers can be carried out easily and thoroughly.
- When entering and saving the program, the notation of keywords and identifiers is corrected automatically.
- The CFC editors can also be fully operated via the keyboard. This increases efficiency when creating CFC diagrams.
Modern operation through modular structure
The PLC Developer has an open, flexible and transparent design, and thus brings the engineering to a new level:
- All sections of the source code are saved in text form in the project in a defined file format, which opens the possibility for the user to generate modules and configurations. Recurring operating steps can thus be automated and copy/paste errors prevented.
- The structuring of the program sections can be selected as required and thus enables the application to have a modular design.
- In order to ensure a reproducible build, the libraries used are saved in the project. An update produces a clear display of the libraries present in a newer version.
- Creation and debugging of user-defined libraries in ST, CFC, C and C++ is possible throughout and particularly supports the reusability of code in other projects.
- Programming is carried out irrespective of the target platform, which only has to be selected at the time of execution. After compilation, the created application can be transferred directly to an M1 controller and run.
- Externally visible variables can be configured clearly in the symbol configuration.
Better quality through rapid troubleshooting
The debug framework of the PLC Developer is extremely useful, particularly with the development of new applications and with troubleshooting:
- After a debug session is started, the actual variable values can be monitored without stopping the application. This can be carried out via the clearly designed monitoring table in ST or the inline monitoring in CFC. The individual variables and structures of the application can also be combined in variable lists and monitored jointly, plotted in a graph and set.
- Activating the flow control makes it possible to follow the program flow without stopping the application.
- An application can be stopped at any position via a break point and then executed in steps. Break points can be managed jointly and activated or deactivated altogether.
- When the application is stopped, the stack frame is displayed by which it is also possible to navigate to the functions to be called.
- The dynamics of variables can be better assessed by highlighting variable values when they change.
- Values of Boolean variables are highlighted in color in order to better identify the current status of an application.
- Code modifications can be applied online without stopping the application. The PLC Developer detects during the transfer whether the online change can be carried out.
- It is also possible to debug several applications simultaneously. When an application with several tasks is debugged, the active debug task can be selected when connecting and changed during the debug session.
- PLC Insight is an automatically generated webMI visualization based on selected CFC blocks. It allows to take a look at the application logic without an engineering tool. The visualization is installed on the target along with the application. In addition to the signal flow, values of exported variables can be monitored and changed.