Software Toolbox Technical Blog

5 min read

Tech Support Corner: How Application Reports Help Us Help You

By Kevin Rutherford on Jul 25, 2019 2:00:00 PM


If you're a TOP Server for Wonderware user, I won't assume that you've ever had the need to contact Software Toolbox for a technical support issue.  I've spoken with users over the years who indicated that after they installed TOP Server for their particular device type, it just worked and had been running with no issues ever since.

However, it's always best to be prepared for the worst case scenario in most situations.  To that end, it's a good idea to know what tools are at your disposal should you ever have any issues with TOP Server for Wonderware requiring you to contact our knowledgeable technical support engineers.

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4 min read

Tech Support Corner: To Format or Not to Format OmniServer Items

By Kevin Rutherford on Jul 18, 2019 2:00:00 PM


In case you're not familiar with OmniServer, it is a user-configurable I/O server solution that you can configure through a user-friendly interface to communicate with various devices that do not already have off-the-shelf drivers written for them.

A question that our support engineers at Software Toolbox sometimes receive from both new and veteran OmniServer users alike is whether an item in the OmniServer sequence builder, which is used to build the send and/or receive message for a device protocol, requires a formatting code or not.

Continuing our Tech Support Corner blog series, this blog post covers under what situations a formatting code is required for an item defined in the OmniServer sequence builder of a protocol and when a code isn't required.

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4 min read

Keeping Process Control Decision Makers in the Know

By Win Worrall on Jul 11, 2019 2:00:00 PM


If you've heard of the Cogent DataHub, you may be aware that it supports email and/or SMS notifications of defined conditional events based on a variety of data from it's various supported interfaces (MQTT, OPC UA, OPC DA, DDE, ODBC and more).  Having the right people receive alerts (such as when a tank has reached a critical level or a critical piece of machinery is offline) in a timely fashion can be the difference between simple downtime and a major liability.

This blog post will discuss how to use variable distribution lists in conjunction with the Cogent DataHub's Email/SMS capabilities to ensure the right decision makers will always receive important notifications as quickly as possible.

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6 min read

Key TOP Server for Wonderware V6.7 Features to Be Excited About

By Kevin Rutherford on Jun 27, 2019 2:00:00 PM


Hopefully you received one of my emails or possibly heard from a colleague about our latest TOP Server release.  If not, you may not have heard about the key new features in TOP Server for Wonderware V6.7.

In this post, I'm going to go through some of the key features released in V6.7 in more detail, including a continued focus on security enhancements, updates to the Configuration API capabilities, enhancements to the Torque Tool Ethernet driver and more, including how they benefit you as a TOP Server user.

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3 min read

Latest OPC Data Logger Features to Be Excited About in the Current Release

By Kevin Rutherford on Jun 20, 2019 2:00:00 PM


As you may be aware, OPC Data Logger is an OPC lab-certified solution for dynamic, event driven logging of process data to standard SQL/ODBC databases, including Microsoft Azure SQL, or text/CSV files.  The wizard-based interface provides easy, flexible configuration that easily scales for project both large and small.

In this blog post, I'll cover some exciting new features that you may not be aware of from recent releases that are available in the current version.

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5 min read

Turning Data into Information for More Informed Decisions

By Kevin Rutherford on Jun 13, 2019 2:00:00 PM

With industrial processes, it's only possible to manage what is being effectively measured.  Without keeping tabs on key metrics in a process, you'll never be able to determine if the efficiency of the process is getting better or worse.

In this short blog post, we'll discuss the progression from raw process data to information to the actions that can be taken and decisions that can be made using that information.  We'll also discuss how the context (or how you're looking at data) can affect the information you're consuming.

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5 min read

Tech Support Corner: DCOM Horror Story - Part 2 - Locked Out With No Key

By Kevin Rutherford on May 30, 2019 2:00:00 PM

DCOM Security and the headaches it tends to create are undoubtedly familiar to any OPC Classic user in the industrial automation industry. Stories about experienced DCOM woes are just part of the territory.

In this second part of a "DCOM Horror Stories" sidebar to our continuing Tech Support Corner blog series, this blog post covers a DCOM user scenario where the user was a little too thorough in locking down their DCOM configuration, resulting in a locked out system. And it includes a reminder of options that help you avoid DCOM configuration altogether.

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3 min read

Top 3 Dream Report Features to Be Excited About in the V5.0 Release

By Kevin Rutherford on May 23, 2019 2:00:00 PM


You may or may not be familiar with Dream Report - a real-time report generator that is quickly and easily configurable via a very easy-to-use interface with a ton of flexibility relating to not only collection and archiving of data and alarms but also for analysis and options for report generation.

In this post, I'll review three of the top features released in the recent V5.0 release of Dream Report and how they benefit you, either as an new or existing Dream Report user.

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6 min read

Tech Support Corner: DCOM Horror Story - Part 1 - When Cortana Loses Her Voice

By Kevin Rutherford on May 16, 2019 2:00:00 PM

Any OPC Classic user in the industrial automation industry has almost certainly had their interactions with Windows DCOM security.  And most, if not all, are stories that we all shake our heads at and nod in understanding of the difficulties of traversing the pitfalls of DCOM security configuration.

In this first part of a "DCOM Horror Stories" sidebar to our continuing Tech Support Corner blog series, this blog post covers a DCOM user scenario involving the Microsoft Windows Cortana search capabilities being sidelined by DCOM security misconfiguration. Additionally, it covers what options are out there for avoiding DCOM entirely for situations like this.

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3 min read

Improving Productivity and Profitability with Faster, More Consistent Decisions

By Kevin Rutherford on May 9, 2019 2:00:00 PM

To manage a process well, it's about more than just producing.  It's necessary to measure how efficiently that process is producing.  A process increases in profitability as it runs more efficiently (producing the same amount using the least amount of resources).

In this short blog post, we'll discuss some of the metrics or key performance indicators (KPIs) that should be available for a particular process and how measuring those KPIs can increase the profitability of your operations.  And we'll discuss how you probably already have the raw data sitting there and how you can turn that raw data into actionable information.

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10 min read

Did You Know? OmniServer Supports CSV Import/Export

By Kevin Rutherford on May 2, 2019 2:00:00 PM


OmniServer's main purpose is enabling connectivity without custom code for devices that use ‘non-standard’ protocols to communicate such as weight scales, barcode readers, and printers.  And OmniServer does that in a more efficient and cost-effective manner than writing custom code.

Furthering the goal of efficiency and cost-effectiveness, you may or may not be aware that OmniServer supports CSV import and export for speedy configuration of many things including topics, devices and, in the actual protocol itself, items, registers, topic variables and even messages.  On larger projects, this provides a substantial time savings.

In this post continuing our "OmniServer Did You Know?" blog series, we will cover how to use CSV import and export in OmniServer to facilitate faster configuration on larger protocol implementations.

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3 min read

Tech Support Corner: Defining a TOP Server Administrator Password

By Kevin Rutherford on Apr 25, 2019 2:00:00 PM


If you're a TOP Server for Wonderware user, you may or may not be aware of the built-in User Manager that allows you to define user roles and associated permissions when accessing your TOP Server configuration.  As security continues to be a key focus for many process industries, keeping your process communications secure is as important as ever.

Continuing our Tech Support Corner blog series, this blog post covers how TOP Server for Wonderware now prompts users to specify an Administrator password during the installation process to ensure your TOP Server is as secure as possible.

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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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