How Would You Solve this Problem?
This is a little bit “techy”, but bear with me.
Imagine you have an application with approximately 50 screens, and the same 50 screens are to be used in each facility. However, when the application is completed, each screen uses multiple websources, all called with a “hard coded” web server name in each websource URL. To further complicate things, many of these websources have up to 25 variable inputs and are buried in multiple screen groups, sometimes as much as 7 layers deep.
Now let’s make the issue more complicated. Each facility will have a unique web server name, and the only way to change the “hard coded” websource URL lines is to create new websources, break the groups and variables in each screen, physically change the URL’s web server name and rebuild each screen. This process will add weeks, possibly months to each plant’s rollout.
What if there are over 35 plants slated to receive the new application?
How can we reduce the rollout time? What can we do so that we add only an hour or two, not weeks or months to the rollouts?
I know the answer. But before we get to it, here’s a little more background so you understand the depth of the problem.
The Background (and the real-life story)
GE-IP Proficy’s Real-Time Information Portal, or RTIP, provides a common web client and reporting environment. And it applies sophisticated trending, graphical presentation and statistical analysis to all of your online data. With this visibility, you can leverage unique organization-wide views and insight into how your plant is operating—and more importantly, how to improve it.
Various RTIP animations can be created using a method called “grouping.” This involves the combination of visual and invisible screen elements into “groups” that can be assigned animations. For example, a list box populated with employee ID’s can be set to invisible until a button labeled “Choose Employee” is pressed by a user.
A large food manufacturer recently contracted Entegreat to create an MES system in which GE’s RTIP “thin client” web pages would be used as the user interface. Besides utilizing many, many groups and animations, .NET Applets added to RTIP as “websources” were used to provide additional functionality to the plant floor application such as “on screen” keyboards and number pads.
These .NET applets were stored in the RTIP web server’s WWWRoot directory, so the applets would be recognized by IIS. Each applet was referenced as a websource with a URL (ex. http://webserver-name/keyboard/keyboard.app). Some websources had multiple inputs that were fed by screen elements, or user interaction and sent to the websource via JSP servlets. Unfortunately however, due to a GE software limitation, the server name had to be “hard coded” into each URL line.
And, as said above, there were 35 plants, each using all 50 screens – 1750 instances of hard coded server names. That’s a lot of hard coding that could result in months of additional rollout time.
Entegreat developed a method to “reach into” the RTIP screens and websources, and change the URL line without having to disassemble a screen or websource. In short, an RTIP screen is broken down to essentially Java code. The affected lines of code are then changed, and the screens are recompiled into “RTIP-Native” files. The procedure has been tested successfully and is in use in all of the client’s production sites.
Use of this solution resulted in saving the client over 4000 hours of rollout time across all 35 plants.
This method can also be used as a “one pass” method to change most anything in an RTIP screen. For example, let’s say you have written an RTIP application with a company logo embedded in each screen, even in visibility groups. The company changes its logo design and the new logo needs to replace the original on all screens. Rather than breaking down all screen components, the Entegreat method can be used to quickly replace all the logo references without ever opening a screen in design mode. It doesn’t stop there either, object colors, text labels, thresholds and much more can quickly be replaced without having to disassemble your RTIP screens.
If you have a similar RTIP issue, or need consulting suport for any component of GE Proficy , Entegreat can help! Just click the button below to contact us.