Frequently Asked Questions
1. What types of databases are supported?
2. How do I develop applications in Ignition?
3. Do I have to install software for each client?
4. How many concurrent clients can I run at a given time?
5. How does your evaluation system work?
6. Is it true that I can use your development environment without paying anything?
7. What happened to FactorySQL and FactoryPMI?
8. Will FactorySQL run on Linux now?
9. Is the SQL Bridge module (formerly FactorySQL) just an OPC datalogger / historian?
10. Why use a Java web-based HMI / SCADA system?
11. What OS does Ignition run on?
12. How does security work?
13. Does Ignition support OPC-UA?
14. Does Ignition support traditional OPC-DA?
15. Do you use Java applets?
16. What is the bi-directional mode?
17. When an application is being developed do the clients need to be shutdown?
18. Do you support remote paging?
19. Why don't you compress / encode data before storing it in the database?
20. How does auditing work in Ignition?
21. How long does it take to install Ignition?
22. How do I connect to SQL databases?
23. Can you have more than one project on a server?
24. How do you know if a project has changed?
25. How many databases can Ignition connect to?
26. How many developer clients can I launch at a time?
27. Does the SQL Bridge module support expressions?
28. Why do you use Python as a scripting language?
29. Can I transfer my license between servers?
30. Does Ignition support redundancy?
31. Do I need other software to accomplish redundancy?
32. Can I run the software on thin clients?
33. Can I run using Windows Terminal Services®?
34. My Ignition OPC-UA server is timing out... I thought it was free?
1. What types of databases are supported?
Ignition by Inductive AutomationTM supports most SQL databases. It has been used in production successfully with Microsoft SQL Server, MySQL, Oracle, PostgreSQL, Microsoft Access (not an SQL database server), and others. Any SQL database should work. Differences between database SQL syntax are easily reconciled in a configuration webpage.
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2. How do I develop applications in Ignition?
Easy! Ignition by Inductive AutomationTM designer is a web deployed application. You can launch the designer from any computer on your network by going to the Ignition gateway in a web browser. Keep in mind that the designer is web deployed just like the runtime. Your distributed applications can be built using the simple drag and drop interface of the designer from any computer.
Once you have saved your changes, all running clients will be notified that new updates are available. Then by clicking "accept updates" at each client, the client is updated in seconds and continues running right where it was.
Also, any number of designers may be launched simultaneously. They can all be working on different projects or the same project in a truly collaborative fashion. Since the software is sold by the server, there is no additional cost for launching additional designers.
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3. Do I have to install software for each client?
No - you simply click a link in your web browser! The Ignition by Inductive AutomationTM clients are web-deployed, meaning that there is no custom software to install for each client. Of course, Ignition runs on Java technology, so the clients do need to have the proper Java runtime software installed. Therefore, you may need to install the free Java runtime software. However, 82% of PCs already have the Java runtime installed, and in those cases when it isn't, Ignition will automatically detect this and walk the client through the installation process. The correct version of the Java runtime is deployed directly from the Ignition server itself.
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4. How many concurrent clients can I run at a given time?
As many as you want! There are no artificially imposed limits to the number of clients you may have connected at one time. There are, of course, technical constraints to the number of clients a server can handle, but the Ignition gateway is optimized to handle a very good number efficiently. Depending on the capacity of the server hardware Ignition runs on it is not inconceivable that you could run hundreds of simultaneous clients from a single server machine.
If you do expand beyond what one Ignition node can handle, you can add more with redundancy. Scaling out is easy and affordable!
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5. How does your evaluation system work?
Simple! We believe that you should have to ability to evaluate our software as much as possible without restriction. In fact, we only want you to buy our software if you feel it would be perfect for your running process. Therefore, our "evaluation" software is the real thing - full featured and exactly like the retail version. The only limitation is that the service side of the system will stop after 2 hours of execution. You are completely free to restart it and continue use as many times as you'd like. The development environment is fully unlocked and never times out.
Download Ignition by Inductive AutomationTM from the downloads section of our web site. Full installation only takes a couple of minutes. You may also request a complimentary CD.
If there's any way that we can make your evaluation more successful or rewarding, please call or e-mail us.
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6. Is it true that I can use your development environment without paying anything?
Yes. The development environment for Ignition by Inductive AutomationTM is fully functional and does not cost you anything. That means no timeout - no limitations. In fact, you can launch any number of designers (development environments) from the Ignition server from anywhere. You no longer need to worry about having the correct version of the development software on your laptop when traveling onsite!
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7. What happened to FactorySQL and FactoryPMI?
Both modules are now part of the Ignition platform! Each module can be separately purchased and installed to suit your needs. Functionality remains essentially the same with some major improvements and, as always, backwards compatibility has been maintained.
Our goal in developing the Ignition platform was simplification. It was to refactor FactorySQL and FactoryPMI into an elegant, unified platform with a vision toward the long term. All development can now be done from a single web-launched designer environment and setup is so simple it can be done under two minutes.
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8. Will FactorySQL run on Linux now?
Yes! Now referred to as the SQL Bridge module, it can run on any Java 6 enabled OS.
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9. Is the SQL Bridge module (formerly FactorySQL) just an OPC datalogger / historian?
No! The SQL Bridge module is very flexible. With it you can do all types of thing which previously were cost prohibitive if not downright impossible. Now, SQL databases can become a virtual extension of PLC memory. The only limitation is your own imagination. Consider the following common uses:
  • 1. Track and Trace applications.
  • 2. Efficiency Tracking systems.
  • 3. Process Historian.
  • 4. Recipes and Batch Management systems.
  • 5. Maintenance Management Systems.
  • 6. Downtime Tracking Systems.
  • 7. Event scheduling and management system.
  • 8. Business process engine.
  • 9. Creation of a "paperless factory" or implementation of "lean manufacturing".
  • 10. Website backend to plant floor processes.
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10. Why use a Java web-based HMI / SCADA system?
The biggest advantage to a web-launched HMI is the ability to freely launch clients from any computer on your network. Since we pioneered this approach some have copied us, but to our knowledge, none offer our server based licensing model which permits unlimited free clients, unlimited free datapoints, unlimited free screens, unlimited free projects and unlimited free concurrent designer clients.
Our clients launch by employing Sun's Java Webstart technology which means they can run on any Java 6 enabled OS which includes Linux, Windows and OSX. The Ignition platform (the server) itself runs under Java so even our server can run on nearly any OS. We made this choice deliberately to provide our customers with maximum flexibility and to provide them with insurance against major upsets in the OS market I.e. Linux.
When you launch an Ignition client there is no license to install and manage, no communication configuration to setup, no application files to copy over, and on the server side, the installation doesn't require a bunch of other expensive software and configuration.
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11. What OS does Ignition run on?
The ignition server and clients can run on Windows Server 2003 / 2008 / 2012, Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Ubuntu Linux 8.04 or later and other Java 6 enabled OSes.
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12. How does security work?
Ignition has a user defined group based security model. Individual screen objects, entire screens, and login to the runtime and developer can be password protected based on a user's security group(s). Security data can be stored in a database internal to FactoryPMI, any external SQL database, or Active Directory (LDAP server). Since Ignition is web based, IT departments can go much further with TCP/IP restrictions. Ignition also supports SSL to clients.
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13. Does Ignition support OPC-UA?
Absolutely! In fact, it comes with a free OPC-UA server with many built-in drivers. You can even use the UA server in the standalone mode. New drivers will be released on a regular basis.
The Ignition platform is itself an OPC-UA client, so OPC-UA servers provided by third parties can be used.
The Ignition-UA server has a pluggable driver interface with a published API so you can even write your own drivers, and if you choose, share them with an open driver community.
Conversely, third party driver developers are free to write and sell pluggable drivers for use with our UA server. The Ignition platform has security mechanisms in place to protect your intellectual property.
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14. Does Ignition support traditional OPC-DA?
Yes, on Windows hosted systems with the OPC COM module.
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15. Do you use Java applets?
You can use Java Applets, but you don't have to. Applications can run in either of three modes. They can be run as applets inside of a web browser, they can deployed from a web browser or shortcut as standalone applications, or similarly launched in Full Screen Mode for touchscreen type applications.
This applies to runtime clients. The designer is a web-launched application only.
Applets might typically be inserted into traditional corporate web-sites as an executive dashboard.
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16. What is the bi-directional mode?
The bi-directional mode is one of the more powerful features of the SQL Bridge module. It seamlessly synchronizes database fields with PLC addresses. On the database end datatable fields are updated at any interval you set. This is what we call PLC address mirroring. In this mode any change made in the PLC will be reflected in the database. Conversely, any change made in the database will be reflected at the associated PLC address. You can configure which side wins in the case of a conflict. This functionality is what makes real-time control from websites and other applications a possibility.
It is important to note that some other vendors claim to have bi-directional communications but this is not the same as bi-directional synchronization. They are simply referring to the ability to write down to the PLC as well as read from it.
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17. When an application is being developed do the clients need to be shutdown?
No. The clients can all continue to run while the project is being worked on by a developer.
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18. Do you support remote paging?
Yes. This is accomplished by relaying the alert message through any SMTP mail server. This sort of text paging is available with most cellular telephones and pagers.
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19. Why don't you compress / encode data before storing it in the database?
Many HMI and historian systems will compress or encode data prior to committing it to their databases, in the interest of "performance". The idea is that you trade pre-processing the data in order to transfer less to the database.
While we do support certain mechanisms to optimize data storage, we have chosen not to implement a proprietary encoding format for the following reasons:
  • Having data in an uncompressed format allows other programs to share the database. We encourage open access to the data via other programs.
  • Various systems need the compression to perform adequately. The Ignition platform performs well without compression. Through various interpolation mehanisms we only transfer absolutely necessary information from the database to clients.
  • Finally, we feel that this compression is more often geared toward proprietary lock-in rather than improving performance, which goes against our open architecture.
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20. How does auditing work in Ignition?
When enabled, the "auditing" feature records every change made via any client. What is recorded is: the user that made the change, the time and date, what they changed, and the new value. It also records logins to both the runtime and developer. Auditing promotes the viability of the "paperless factory", "lean manufacturing", and 21CFR11 compliance.
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21. How long does it take to install Ignition?
This is one of our claims to fame! Generally under two minutes.
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22. How do I connect to SQL databases?
Simple, just go to the gateway webpage and use one of the built-in database drivers. It's just a few clicks.
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23. Can you have more than one project on a server?
Yes. No limit to the number of projects except as determined by hard disk space.
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24. How do you know if a project has changed?
Simple. If someone is developing on the application you are currently using and they save it to the server, you will get a notification on the top of your application saying a new project is available. You can continue to run your existing version no problem. But when you are ready, you can "accept changes" and your client will be updated in seconds. The client will resume running right where it was without having to re-launch and re-log in.
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25. How many databases can Ignition connect to?
Ignition can connect to any number of databases of from a large variety of vendors simultaneously.
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26. How many developer clients can I launch at a time?
There is no limitation to the number of developer clients that can be launched at a time. There is no additional license fee for these clients. Additionally, they may all be working on the same project at the same time provided they aren't all working on the same screen. This enables collaborative development by any number of people from disparate locations.
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27. Does the SQL Bridge module support expressions?
Expressions are supported in action items. Results from action items can then be written to the database, PLCs, be referenced in other action items or be used as triggers. Or they can be used in all of the above simultaneously.
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28. Why do you use Python as a scripting language?
Because it is simple, powerful, forgiving, and is already used by many IT departments. In fact, there are over one million Python programmers. There are many books on Python and plentiful online tutorials and references exist.
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29. Can I transfer my license between servers?
Yes! On your first server, simply un-activate the software. The software will then be running in the standard trial mode. Now you can use your CD-Keys to activate the software again on a different server.
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30. Does Ignition support redundancy?
Yes. Redundancy is an advanced feature of Ignition that provides a higher degree of fault-tolerance and protection from downtime due to machine failure. Using redundancy, two Ignition installations can be linked together, so that when one fails, the other takes over and continues executing. All of the clients connected will be redirected to the backup machine, and historical data will continue to be logged.
There are a variety of design decisions that come into play when setting up redundant systems, so it is important to understand the available options, and how the pieces of the system function in a redundant setting. This chapter will start with key terminology that will be used heavily, and will then proceed to explain how the main parts of the system function. It will then explain the various settings available, and will finish up with an examination of a few common setups.
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31. Do I need other software to accomplish redundancy?
No. Simply install two Ignition platforms. The configuration is easy and is accomplished via the web-based configuration page. The project(s) and settings on the first Ignition server will be copied across to the second one and the two servers will now function as one.
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32. Can I run the software on thin clients?
Yes. There are two ways to accomplish this. There are thin clients available that can run the full JRE (Java runtime) and Ignition by Inductive Automation clients can run on these directly. This would be as in the case of thin clients with enough memory and running an OS such as Windows XP embedded (or equivalent) or Linux.
The other way to use thin clients is by using Windows Terminal Services®. This might be a cost effective option where an infrastructure of thin clients and Windows Terminal Services already exists.
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33. Can I run using Windows Terminal Services®?
Yes. This is most applicable where such an infrastructure already exists. Of course you'll have to pay for Windows Server CALs and Terminal Services CALs for each client, but you won't have to pay for individual Ignition by Inductive Automation seats - these being unlimited. This approach still has a major cost benefit over traditional licensing models. Though bypassing Terminal Services altogether eliminates the cost of CALs and even the cost Windows Server itself since Ignition can run under Windows XP (or equivalent) or Linux as it is totally cross platform.
Using this latter option, your thin clients will need to be able to run the JRE (Java runtime) which Windows CE doesn't support. So if your existing thin clients are Windows CE based you will need to go the first route. If you don't have existing thin clients, realize that many thin clients are available that do support the JRE. Please contact us for information on proven thin clients that are available.
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34. My Ignition OPC-UA server is timing out... I thought it was free?
Yes, it is free. You have to activate it with a CD-Key, but you can generate one for free with a valid email-address in the Ignition OPC-UA download section.
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Every day I drive home smiling and thankful that I didn’t go with the ‘other guys’!
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Jason Coope
National Director of Research & Development
Schnitzer Steel
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