TOP Server V6.0 Features to Be Excited About for Oil & Gas

8 min read

Jan 6, 2017 2:00:00 PM

I'm sure you've likely at least heard about the latest TOP Server V6.0 released recently.  Aside from the great server-level enhancements to the user interface and more, there are several nice upgrades that should prove especially useful to our users in the Oil & Gas industry working with TOP Server.

Keep reading to find out more specific details about several great features that should make your lives easier in TOP Server V6.0.

Whether you're using TOP Server for real-time data collection or Electronic Flow Measurement (EFM) collection, our regular TOP Server releases typically have at least a few updates to drivers and plug-ins used extensively in the Oil & Gas space.  It's a vital industry and one of the ongoing development goals for TOP Server is continued improvement for our Oil & Gas offering.  Tired of reading and want to learn more about TOP Server V6.0? Watch an on-demand webinar including demo.

So here are some of the most recent major TOP Server improvements and what they mean for you as a user in the O&G space:

1. User Interface Enhancements

Whether you’ve just started using TOP Server or you’ve been using TOP Server for years, I'm sure you’ve certainly spent some amount of time getting used to the user interface.  You likely are comfortable configuring new channels and devices and editing existing channels and devices.

So when you hear me talk about changes to the user interface, you might tense up a little bit.  Don’t worry – the user interface changes made in V6.0 are designed to make your life a whole lot easier. Specifically, for the O&G space, you'll notice the following changes:

  • TOP Server Version 6 Unified Tree ViewUnified project view

    • If you’ve ever had to use the topic alias map in TOP Server, or configure any of the plug-ins, such as the Scheduler or EFM Exporter, you know you had to go to a separate section of the user interface to configure those settings.
    • TOP Server V6.0 provides a common project view with a hierarchy view of all available/installed plug-ins and the alias map so you can view everything in one place.  And, if you’re not using a particular plug-in that is installed, you can even “hide” it.
    • What this means is that now you can configure your Scheduler and/or EFM Exporter properties right in the same view as your channel and devices!

  • TOP Server EFM Configuration Tree ViewEFM Meter Configs Right in the Tree View

    • If you're using the TOP Server EFM Suite to collect EFM history from your meters in the field, you'll remember that in the past you had to go into the individual device settings for an EFM-capable driver to configure your EFM meters, mappings and/or address ranges (depending on the specific EFM-capable driver).
    • In TOP Server V6.0, you’ll find that your EFM meter configurations are accessible from the tree-view.
    • Just expand the device in the tree view to get to your meter configuration settings!

2. Configuration API

Over the years, we've worked with many companies and SIs in the O&G space that are what we would call "power users".  If you're one of those power users, you may have asked us in the past for the ability to configure your TOP Server programmatically from another application outside just the standard TOP Server user interface.

TOP Server V6.0 gives you the ability to programmatically configure TOP Server through a REST-based API.  And stay tuned - in the future, we will also be introducing a .NET API.  But what does that mean for you?

  • Configure TOP Server from any custom application

    • TOP Server V6 Config API SettingsIf you have your own custom developed applications that are accessing TOP Server and you’ve always wondered why it isn’t possible to configure your TOP Server straight from that other application – now you can.
    • The new API provides all of the same configuration options you’re familiar with using in the TOP Server user interface, but via API calls you can make from any custom application (things like adding a new channel or device, editing existing channels/devices/tags, deleting channels/devices/tags, and so much more).
    • So if you have a custom client application, for instance, you could program that application to take advantage of the new API and potentially make all of your configuration changes in that client application and have the corresponding changes automatically propagate to TOP Server without ever having to open TOP Server!

3. Licensing Enhancements

You've also told us over the years that you would love it if TOP Server licensing was a little more user-friendly.  In the O&G space, sites are often very widespread geographically - and we know time is money.  The less time you have to spend on licensing at each site, the more time you can spend on other tasks.  With TOP Server V6.0, you’ll experience several dramatically improved elements with respect to the licensing process that should save you both time and effort.

  • TOP Server Version 6 Multi-License ActivationsSingle roundtrip for activations

    • For multi-driver license installations (situations where you’re licensing maybe a Modbus Suite, and EFM Suite and a Scheduler plug-in on the same machine), you’ll only have to make one roundtrip to our registration website.
    • So for that particular example, TOP Server V6.0 cuts your licensing time down by two-thirds.

  • Certificate-based support/maintenance renewals

    • In the past, renewing your TOP Server support was the same process as your initial license activation.
    • In TOP Server V6.0, support/maintenance renewals are now certificate based – this means NO roundtrips to our registration website whatsoever to renew your support/maintenance each year.
    • You simply import the certificate file that you receive from us.  And, as an added bonus, one certificate file can provide support/maintenance renewal for up to 100 activation IDs – so most users can receive a single certificate file for all of their machines!  So you're not having to worry about whether you're loading the right certificate file!

  • Improved trial mode
    • I'm sure many of you remember some time in the past that you wanted to try out a driver on your licensed TOP Server prior to purchasing a license?
    • You might also remember when that unlicensed driver caused your licensed TOP Server to revert to two-hour trial mode?
    • Well, with TOP Server V6.0, that behavior is in the past.  Now, only the unlicensed component actually times out after the trial timer ends.
    • Your licensed components continue operating normally – saving you the headaches of the past by not having to figure out why your server that is out in the middle of nowhere timed out all of a sudden and was causing you downtime.

  • New licensing system tags

    • You may or may not be aware of the wide variety of useful system and diagnostic tags available for monitoring and troubleshooting your TOP Server right from your client application.  With the V6.0 licensing improvements, you now have three new system tags you can monitor from your client to keep a pulse on the status of your licenses:
      • _TimeLimitedFeatures: A list of all drivers/plug-ins that are or have been used and have a timer counting down (including the remaining time for that driver/plug-in).
      • _ExpiredFeatures: A string array providing a list of the drivers/plug-ins with expired demo timers.
      • _LicensedFeatures: A list of all licensed features in use that are not time limited (i.e. a list of your permanently licensed drivers/plug-ins).

4. OPC UA Enhancements

Now, I know not all O&G users have implemented OPC UA, at this point, whether that's because your particular client or clients haven't supported OPC UA or just because your existing non-OPC UA connections simply work and you don't want to change that.  But I know some of you have done so and if you've ever had to troubleshoot a connection between you're OPC UA capable client application and TOP Server, you'll love V6.0.

  • OPCUA_Diagnostics.pngNew, improved native OPC UA interface

    • Previously, the OPC UA interface was implemented with the use of a third-party toolkit.
    • For TOP Server V6.0, the development team worked hard to provide a native OPC UA implementation, allowing for improved performance and diagnostics tools.
    • Yes, DIAGNOSTICS – TOP Server now has OPC UA diagnostics built-in.  No more days of trying to use Wireshark!

  • Built for the future

    • With a native OPC UA interface, TOP Server V6.0 is perfectly positioned for adding additional OPC UA profiles in the future (such as Alarms & Events and Nano) as your client applications start supporting those profiles and you start needing those as well.

5. More Security at Your Fingertips

And last, but not least, TOP Server V6.0 now includes complimentary access to the Security Policies advanced plug-in at no additional charge, previously a $395 add-in option.  But what is the Security Policies plug-in, you might be saying, and how does it apply to me as an O&G user?

  • TOP Server Version 6 Security EnhancementsFlexible, powerful control over your TOP Server

    • The Security Policies plug-in provides the ultimate in flexible user authentication for your TOP Server.
    • You can dictate what users have access to down to the individual tag level based on their defined user in the integrate TOP Server User Manager.
    • With the Oil & Gas industry being one of the most tightly regulated industries out there, you need to ensure the right people have the right access to the right settings.  Having access to the Security Policies plug-in should provide great peace of mind, in that respect.

All of these new features will provide improved efficiency, scalability, and flexibility for your current or upcoming O&G projects.  And, while these are some of the bigger features, as always, we have a list of other enhancements and features in the release notes that we just don’t have room to cover here - click for details.

Ready to see TOP Server V6 in action?  Click below to access an on-demand webinar with live demonstration of the new features.

Watch On-Demand TOP Server V6 Webinar

Kevin Rutherford
Written by Kevin Rutherford

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