Why I Love Being a Developer at inmation

Written by Bhargava Srinarasi on Monday, 04 December 2017. Posted in General

Access to the “Big Picture”

At inmation, when you’re developing a feature, you always know the purpose of the work you’re doing and where it fits in the vision of the company.

When I was working for bigger companies before, the big picture would usually be limited by the time it trickles down from top management to me, the developer implementing the future, through various levels of people and project managers. But here, you always know why you’re doing what you’re doing and if you have a question you can always walk to the desk of one of our MDs or our Head of Development to know how your work fits in the larger scheme of things.

The Joy (and Pain) of Being on the Bleeding Edge

At inmation, we try to be on the latest and greatest of the technologies we use and work on. For example, we use C++17 to develop our core server which is the latest version of C++ and we were using Visual Studio 2017, the latest version of Microsoft’s development environment before it was even released. We integrate the latest available versions of most of the third party libraries we use as well. Being on the latest available technologies/libraries helps us simplify our code and make it more efficient.

Of course, it also means that we’ll have to solve problems with the new technologies/libraries on our own instead of searching for a solution on Stack Overflow or report problems to others to get them fixed. But that’s a price we’re ready to pay.

We knew it's great! ;)

Written by Timo Klingenmeier on Friday, 27 October 2017. Posted in General

Since we designed the data storage layer for inmation back in 2013, we highly trusted MongoDB to be the right choice for us, but more important, for the ever increasing storage demands of our industrial customers.

This was a long sentence, so let's keep it short now: Congratulations, MongoDB, for your successful IPO (the first database IPO in 20 years)!

MongoDB Website

The Lua Scripting Engine

Written by Edward Spink on Tuesday, 04 July 2017. Posted in General

The Lua Scripting engine is an integral part of system:inmation’s design. Fully embedded within the system, it allows the user to completely customize the management of their data network.

Do you wish to combine the output of multiple real-time data streams and compare it with historical data? Or selectively browse a large OPC server namespace and return only the items you’re interested in? Perhaps you want a fully automated KPI dashboard that shows daily, weekly and monthly aggregates for all of the above data sources? The Lua scripting engine can achieve all this and more.

Although this sounds impressive, it can also be a little daunting to begin with and raises some questions. What is Lua? Why would I want to customize my system anyway? And how do I even get started?

Firstly, what is Lua and why does system:inmation use it? The Lua scripting language was specifically developed to integrate with software and provide scripting functionality. It is fast, lightweight and relatively simple making it ideal for use with real-time data applications and great for beginners. This flexibility makes it easy to fully automate tasks or perform actions on demand.

In system:inmation Lua scripts are attached to data processing objects that execute the scripts. Depending on the object, a script could be executed once, periodically or when triggered by another item or action. Scripts can be written directly into the DataStudio script editor and executed in real time.

But why customize the system anyway? Well, even though system:inmation has a comprehensive set of configuration options, every data network is different and the way data is gathered and how the user wants to use that data differs from system to system (and user to user). Customizing the system to provide specific information of specific type to each user provides great benefits in productivity and efficiency. Customization naturally includes the automation of tasks and actions, saving the user time and your organization money.

Sounds good so far, so how to get started?

Powers of 10 – Size is only half of what matters

Written by Timo Klingenmeier on Friday, 29 April 2016. Posted in General

People often talk about size. “Mine’s bigger” is a frequent boast when people gather to have cocktails and talk about their new PC with 11 CPU cores, or their gargantuan movie collection (burned legally from their purchased DVDs of course), their 6-wheel drive Humvee 7 with Dual V-12 engines, or even their favorite Gillette razor with 10 blades (here, feel this).

Size does indeed matter. The Internet of Things (IoT) has ushered in an area without upper bound on the size of the ever-growing recoded history about the world around us. “Big Data” is now a convenient euphemism for this information explosion, and every technology provider is rushing to proclaim how their platform is “bigger” and “better” than their competition. To succeed in today’s Analytics-driven world, it is not enough to be bigger. You also have to be smaller!

Today, inmation makes the bold claim that we are smaller than all of them. Curious? Read on!

The 10 Million Tag System aka the Enterprise Control Foundation

Written by Timo Klingenmeier on Tuesday, 12 May 2015. Posted in General

Published at SPE (Society of Petroleum Engineers) International

Today, we want to talk about scale. Scale matters in the real-time information world. Scale matters with process data. Scale matters for large enterprises.

For the ones of you, who have not spent the last years close to automated production and control systems: The term “Tag” refers to a named item or object in this domain – usually associated to some moving data properties and classified by a certain designation system. Designation systems in industry can be compared to stock market tickers. Everybody understands that MSFT.NAS refers to the share price of Microsoft at the NASDAQ stock exchange. Similarly, a control engineer understands that TC40101.PV is the current process value of the controlled temperature of tank 10 in area 40 of a distinct production plant. Or so. Unfortunately, industrial designation systems are not finally regulated on a global scale, as stock ticker symbols are. Money always wins.