Graphically Viewing Executions
Steeplechase Software been granted a new patent for the 'animation of execution history.' Patent #6,058,333 - issued by the US Patent & Trademark Office - enables users of Steeplechase's Visual Logic Controller (VLC) for logic and motion control to program in flow charts then graphically view the execution of the control programs.
The creation of application programs to control factory automation requires the developer to understand how the program executes its logic. This phase of control application development is commonly referred to as "debugging." To debug the application, the developer must inspect variables and be able to view and/or change their values. The developer must also be able to analyze the execution of the logic.
Typically, the developer is required to analyze data and correlate that data with the control program execution. This process can be difficult and extremely time-consuming. The control program usually executes many times per second, whereas the developer comprehends information at a much slower rate. Multiple variables may change their values several times in rapid succession during execution of the control program.
With the Steeplechase patent, execution of control programs is represented by animating the graphical flow charts in which they were written. This presentation is also known as Execution Tails. According to Richard Mahn, Steeplechase Chief Engineer, "The historical feature of Execution Tails shows the user what paths the program has taken so it becomes easier to troubleshoot problems, even after they have occurred."
"Control program developers now have a software tool which decreases the time it takes to debug a control program," said Mike Klein, President and CEO of Steeplechase.
"The use of Execution Tails allows simultaneous evaluation of multiple data points while identifying execution paths on a graphical flow chart."
Reducing the time a developer spends debugging a control program shortens the time to implement that control program and increases productivity of both the developer and the industrial process. Thus, the manufacturer achieves faster design cycles than possible with existing PLC technology or existing graphical user interface programming tools.