Software Toolbox Technical Blog

4 min read

Exploring OPC UA - OPC UA Certificate Basics

By Marc Holbach on Jan 23, 2020 2:00:00 PM


The use of certificates in cryptographic applications and online communication protocols is nothing new and can practically be traced all the way back to the 1970's when the "framework" for public key encryption (more on this in a future blog) came into being. With the (now-not-so-recent) Industry 4.0 movement coming out of Europe, and the design and operation changes brought about by the IIoT phenomenon, we are seeing more and more systems – that have traditionally been air-gapped and kept offline – being brought online to take advantage of the digital revolution in which we find ourselves.

Despite how you feel about this (r)evolution there are several exciting changes that are being brought about, including the one I want to discuss is the increased adoption of OPC Unified Architecture (OPC UA) in automation systems.

In this first post in our ongoing Exploring OPC UA blog series, we will look at what OPC UA Certificates are and what they provide and subsequent posts will further explore how they are used in OPC UA, how they fit into the security ‘stack’ of OPC UA and will then look at how OPC UA Certificates are utilized and managed in several Software Toolbox applications. First thing’s first however; what are OPC UA Certificates and what are they used for?

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2 min read

Lower Your Non-Standard Protocol Configuration Time by Up to 40%

By Kevin Rutherford on Jan 16, 2020 2:00:00 PM


Those of you even somewhat familiar with OmniServer are likely aware that OmniServer is frequently used for accessing information from devices that use ‘non-standard’ protocols including such devices as weight scales, barcode readers, and printers either over serial connections or Ethernet connections.

Over the past several years, we've been working to evolve the OmniServer user experience with the goal of making it easier and more efficient to build a non-standard protocol/driver.

In this video blog post, we will step through the most powerful features of the new visual protocol editor for OmniServer, demonstrating the key enhancements to the user experience that will make integrating your non-standard devices easier and faster than ever.

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5 min read

Tech Support Corner: DCOM Resources for Easier Troubleshooting

By Kevin Rutherford on Jan 9, 2020 2:00:00 PM

DCOM security and its headaches continue to be a popular support topic - our DCOM tutorial videos consistently receive the most visits each month.  Speak to any OPC Classic user in the industrial automation space and they always have their own horror stories about fighting the woes of DCOM.

In our continuing Tech Support Corner blog series, this blog post provides you with a high-level review of the troubleshooting resources we make available to our users including a DCOM companion checklist that can be used with our DCOM tutorials.

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5 min read

Key TOP Server for Wonderware V6.8 Features to Be Excited About

By Kevin Rutherford on Dec 19, 2019 2:00:00 PM


You more than likely just received one of my emails recently or possibly heard from a colleague about our latest TOP Server release.  Either way, you'll want to continue reading about the new features in TOP Server V6.8 for Wonderware.

In this post, I'm going to go through some of the key features released in V6.8 in more detail, including the continued focus on the highest level of security, updates for ControlLogix firmware support, enhancements to the Torque Tool Ethernet driver, EFM driver updates, DNP3 updates and more, including how they benefit you as a TOP Server user.

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1 min read

Tech Support Corner: TOP Server Basics and Quick Start

By Kevin Rutherford on Dec 12, 2019 2:00:00 PM


If you're a new TOP Server for Wonderware user, or just a user that's been away from TOP Server for awhile, perhaps you need a quick refresher on how to get around in TOP Server.

Continuing our Tech Support Corner blog series, this video blog post covers the basic components of TOP Server and how to familiarize yourself with using TOP Server via the simulation project that installs with TOP Server.

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5 min read

OPC UA PubSub and 4 More Key Updates in OPC Data Client 2019.2

By Ganesh Kalipershad on Dec 5, 2019 2:00:00 PM


With the recently released 2019.2 (5.56) version of the OPC Data Client Toolkit, developers of OPC UA custom client applications can now add the latest extension to the OPC UA specifications, PubSub, short for Publish-Subscribe, to their applications. This version also brings items of value for developers of any type of OPC client application, and also highlights some updates from a 2019.1 release we did last month to prepare for this big release.

In this blog post, we will cover the most significant updates to OPC Data Client and how they will benefit you and your custom OPC client projects.

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4 min read

Top 5 Dream Report Features to Be Excited About in V5.0 R19-3

By Kevin Rutherford on Nov 21, 2019 2:00:00 PM


If you've used Dream Report, you know it is a real-time report generator and dashboard solution and how quickly and easily configurable it is for data collection, archival of data and alarms and also analysis.

In this post, we'll go through five key features of the V5.0 R19-3 release of Dream Report and how those features benefit existing and new Dream Report users.

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4 min read

Phone & Intercom Integration with HMI / SCADA

By Kevin Rutherford on Nov 14, 2019 2:00:00 PM


Another common non-standard device integration scenario that we encounter is integration of phone and intercom systems with the control system.  There is normally a control application provided by the system manufacturer but that adds another system that the user has to know, use and maintain.

In the next blog post of a series on OmniServer user stories, we’ll discuss a specific use case of a system integrator working with a correctional facility needing direct integration of their Telecor phone and intercom system with Wonderware.  And we'll discuss how OmniServer provided a driver to the Telecor system without the need for custom code, eliminating the need for an additional control application.

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4 min read

Optimizing Heat Reclamation Process with OPC Data Logger

By Marc Holbach on Nov 7, 2019 2:00:00 PM


At Software Toolbox, we commonly hear from users seeking a solution for connecting and gathering data from this or that type of hardware.  Beyond that, though, is what users do with the data once they have it.  A common need is reliably logging process to a database such as Microsoft SQL server.

In this blog post, we’ll discuss a specific use case of a German R&D firm needing to collect data from multiple OPC data sources and log that data to a SQL database for further analysis geared towards a pilot project developing a model for optimizing Combined Heat & Power Partnership (CHP) technology for transferability to many enterprises where heat and power generation are essential to the process.

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4 min read

Direct Printer Integration with MES and HMI / SCADA

By Kevin Rutherford on Oct 31, 2019 2:00:00 PM


A common non-standard device integration scenario that we encounter is needing to integrate devices that are not currently automated in any way.  There is some manual process to send data to or retrieve data from these devices which, as always, introduces greater risk of error due to human factors.

In the next blog post of a series on OmniServer user stories, we’ll discuss a specific use case of a user in consumer packaged goods needing to automate printing directly from Wonderware using data from their MES system.  And we'll discuss how OmniServer provided a driver without the need for custom code, eliminating their inefficient manual printing process.

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1 min read

Tech Support Corner: Adding Drivers to an Existing TOP Server Install

By Kevin Rutherford on Oct 24, 2019 2:00:00 PM


If you're a TOP Server for Wonderware user, it's possible you've gone to configure a channel using a driver you've never used before but couldn't find it in the available driver list.  This can be confusing, especially if you weren't the user that installed TOP Server.  It is, however, an easy fix.

Continuing our Tech Support Corner blog series, this video blog post covers how to easily add additional drivers to an existing TOP Server install from the long list of available drivers.

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2 min read

Video Tutorial: Key New Features - OmniServer V3.1.0.9

By Kevin Rutherford on Oct 17, 2019 2:00:00 PM


As part of our continuous improvement process at Software Toolbox, OmniServer is updated several times a year to add additional useful features and tools, and to resolve any known issues.

In this video blog, I will cover updates and enhancements available in OmniServer V3.1.0.9 to help you with flexibility and testing while connecting to all of your non-standard devices.

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Working in industrial automation since 1996, the Software Toolbox team has seen a lot. The level of automation system sophistication of our integrators and users has evolved, each driven by the demands of their market and clients.  Everyone's learning continues as technological change accelerates.

This blog is about sharing from these journeys.  From tips on implementing software, successes our clients have experienced, or new ideas and things to consider in your journey, we'll be sharing them here.

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