Software Toolbox Technical Blog

5 min read

Top 4 Benefits of Using a Hardware Key with OmniServer

By Kevin Rutherford on Aug 6, 2020 2:00:00 PM


Software-based licensing is a commonality among software solutions across all industries, not just industrial process control.  It's flexible, doesn't require physical shipping and is very reliable. But some system architectures can ultimately benefit from another licensing option - hardware keys.

Hardware key licensing is invaluable for high-availability systems for a number of reasons.  We've recently expanded licensing support in OmniServer, the proven OPC solution for integrating non-standard devices that don't have an off-the-shelf driver, to include optional hardware key support.

In this blog post, we'll cover the key reasons that hardware key licensing is beneficial for many OmniServer users.

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2 min read

How to Develop Custom OPC Clients with No Code

By Ganesh Kalipershad on Jul 30, 2020 2:00:00 PM

When you hear the term "OPC client", you may initially think of off-the-shelf HMI or SCADA applications.  However, it's common in enterprises across most industries for there to be other custom developed software applications that could benefit from access to OPC process data.  Or perhaps there is a new custom application you're working on that needs to access OPC process data.  The question, then, is how to enable those applications as OPC clients.

In Part 1 of our series on How to Develop Custom OPC Clients, we will cover step-by-step how to use no-code techniques to bind production data to various types of user interface elements for reading, or writing, or both to build a basic OPC client application in Visual Studio.NET.

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2 min read

OPC Router Basic Training - Writing SQL Data to OPC Servers

By Marc Holbach on Jul 23, 2020 1:45:00 PM

As we discussed in Part 1 of our OPC Router Basic Training series, it is quite common for process industry projects to require logging of industrial process data to a database such as Microsoft SQL.  On the other side of the coin, it is also quite common for information such as recipes or other data to be stored in a database such as SQL and to then need to push that data down to process devices.

In Part 2 of the series, we will cover step-by-step how to write stored SQL data to OPC UA and DA servers based on flexible scripted trigger conditions with the OPC Router.

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7 min read

5 Key Considerations For Choosing Tunneling Solutions for Remote OPC

By Win Worrall on Jul 16, 2020 2:00:00 PM


OPC continues to be the standard of choice for interoperability between software and hardware in the multi-vendor real world, with wide adoption of OPC DA Classic still in the majority compared to OPC UA. Accessing remote OPC Classic data sources (i.e. OPC clients and servers are on separate machines and, sometimes, even networks) can be challenging due to a reliance on Microsoft DCOM technology for security and authentication on remote OPC connections.

Anyone who has ever heard of or dealt with configuring DCOM security for remote OPC connections knows it has its challenges.  The good news is that there is an alternative to DCOM for remote OPC Classic connectivity - a solution referred to as OPC tunneling.  In the blog post, we'll discuss five of the key considerations to remember as you're evaluating the best OPC tunneling solution for your projects.

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2 min read

OPC Router Basic Training - Connecting SQL to OPC Data Sources

By Marc Holbach on Jul 9, 2020 2:00:00 PM

Logging industrial process data to a database such as Microsoft SQL is a common requirement of many projects across industries.  One of the key applications for storing industrial process data is providing historical context and reporting of the process so that better decisions can be made.

In Part 1 of our OPC Router Basic Training series, we will cover step-by-step how to easily connect to OPC UA and DA data sources to SQL databases for logging process data with the OPC Router.

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8 min read

Why use an OPC Server Development Toolkit?

By Ganesh Kalipershad on Jun 25, 2020 2:00:00 PM


As technical consultants at Software Toolbox, we are often approached by users who need to expose data from a software application they have written, or are writing, to communicate from systems they own to a client, HMI/SCADA, or historian. And, in many cases, there are dozens of applications at different sites that the data needs to reach. The question we are then presented with is, “how can I accomplish this quickly and efficiently while staying within budget?” 

Continuing our OPC Development Toolkits blog series, our hope is to answer this question and share from our experience with OPC since 1996, what our users have told us are the common reasons why they chose to use a commercial OPC server toolkit, and to help readers determine what factors to consider for their specific situation and circumstances.

In the first part of this series, we covered the basics of commercial OPC client development toolkits, with a dive into the benefits of using one, while here in part 2, our focus is on OPC server development toolkits. If you read our blog on OPC client toolkits, you will likely notice a clear overlap in the benefits you gain from using both types of commercial OPC toolkits.

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6 min read

Accessing Industrial Data from OPC & SQL Sources with HTTP Clients

By Marc Holbach on Jun 18, 2020 2:00:00 PM

Having ready access to the wide array of industrial data available in an enterprise is increasingly important these days, for a variety of reasons.  With ever-expanding applications for using "big data" towards efficiency initiatives such as digital twins, predictive analytics and predictive maintenance, having the ability to bring all of your industrial data together is essential.

In order to analyze that data, however, the upstream systems performing that analysis need access to the actual data - data that is typically widely dispersed geographically and even departmentally within locations.  One interface that is relatively common for such systems is the ability to act as an HTTP (or REST) client.

This blog post will provide an overview of an easy and secure way to share industrial process data available common OPC UA, OPC DA and SQL database sources with big data and other systems that can act as an HTTP / REST Client using the OPC Router. You'll also have a chance to download our free guide with step-by-step instructions.

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3 min read

Key TOP Server for AVEVA V6.9 Features to Be Excited About

By Kevin Rutherford on Jun 11, 2020 2:00:00 PM

In keeping with ongoing continuous improvement initiatives, TOP Server for AVEVA V6.9 expands connectivity support for several existing drivers.  This is in addition to other updates to over 25 drivers and plug-ins.

In this post, we'll cover the key features released in V6.9 in more detail, including updates to OPC UA Client driver data types and tags for EUROMAP 77 compatibility, support for additional GE Fanuc Focas parameters, expanded Torque Tool Ethernet message IDs and more, including how they benefit you as a TOP Server user.

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2 min read

Connect RESTful Web Services to Databases, OPC UA / DA & More Systems

By Kevin Rutherford on Jun 4, 2020 2:00:00 PM

Accessing various industrial data via RESTful web services has become increasingly necessary over the past decade.  From devices with self-hosted web services to relevant market data such as weather information and pricing for commodities and energy, there is a host of relevant data to be integrated from such web services.

In this video, we will cover step-by-step how to easily connect to RESTful web services and perform reads and writes, as well as, logging data to and reading data from a database or connecting that data to other systems such as OPC UA - all with the OPC Router.

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2 min read

Connect Your Barcode Scanners to Barcode Printers

By Kevin Rutherford on May 28, 2020 2:00:00 PM

Barcode scanners and printers are devices that are very common in a variety of industries, whether it's for use in a manufacturing process or a multitude of other possible uses.  But how do you go from scanning a barcode to printing that barcode?

In this video, we will cover how to connect to both a Datalogic barcode scanner and a Zebra barcode printer, as well as, transferring the scanned barcode data to the printer automatically.

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8 min read

Why use an OPC Client Development Toolkit?

By Ganesh Kalipershad on May 21, 2020 2:00:00 PM


A common question we are asked as technical consultants at Software Toolbox is “why should I use an OPC toolkit when there is free sample code and other free solutions available to me?” That’s a fair and logical question, but this post takes a different approach. 

Instead, with this 2-part blog series, our hope is to share from our experience with OPC since 1996, what our users have told us are the common reasons why they chose to use a commercial OPC toolkit, and to help readers determine what factors to consider for their specific situation and circumstances.

In the first part of this blog series on OPC development toolkits, we will cover the basics of commercial OPC Client Development Toolkits, with a dive into the benefits of using one, while in part 2, we will look at OPC Server Development Toolkits.

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6 min read

Tech Support Corner: Protecting Your TOP Server OPC UA Process Data

By Tyler Lindsey on May 14, 2020 2:00:00 PM


With the rising security demands of Industry 4.0, OPC UA provides us with the means to encrypt data as it is transferred between client and server. But what if encrypting data to prevent outside extraction is not enough? What if UA client applications become compromised? What tools do we have to protect against deliberate or even accidental manipulation or consumption of data?

Continuing our Tech Support Corner blog series, this post covers how to leverage the built-in TOP Server User Group Security settings, alongside OPC UA username and password authentication, for greater control over which users have read/write capabilities as well as what tags a user is permitted to access.

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