Improved Image Management with GBIs
OnPing is excited to roll out a new GitHub Integration feature for HMI – Git Backed Image (GBI). GBIs are graphic components in OnPing generated from images stored in a GitHub repository. Now, Users can create images in an external environment then easily communicate the designs to OnPing displays. This new HMI feature is a big expansion of Image Management in OnPing.
- GitHub Integration
- Compatible with common image files
- Available in the HMI widget
- GitHub Integration
Why Expand the Image Base?
The base library in the HMI widget provides an excellent core to build from. With that said, we want to expand the potential resource pool for our Users interested in exploring deeper HMI design principles.
Expanding the Image Base with GBIs provides an opportunity to:
- Improve Communication of Information
- Increase Display Precision with Custom Designs
- Develop an Image Management
- Storage in GitHub repositories
- Access management to better control information leakage
- Synchronization for quality control
Expanding the pool of resources available to Users comes with a host of other critical benefits. To put it bluntly, GBIs are more than a new set of pictures for HMI display – they is the next step to building out an Image Management system with OnPing.
Communication of Information
HMIs represent important information in systems. (Marinetech.org has a relatively short review of HMI Design that outlines some key aspects of the design process). With Git Backed Images, Users have control over the details in a graphic display in a way that wasn’t possible before.
Granularity in an HMI, when implemented with care, helps Users readily identify what is happening more quickly. GBIs can improve the experience of operators with custom graphic displays made for specific equipment and situations. Customization can make the ‘right’ information easier to find.
More customization benefits everyone working in an automated system, from operators to developers, by creating a more responsive feedback loop. HMI graphics are one of the ways that information is communicated to the operators – even more so when equipment is represented remotely!
Enabling customization in image development leads to development cycles that can better incorporate operator needs and concerns into the design process. Better designs produce better operational results – and better results look good for everyone involved in the process.
Communication is crucial in a cloud environment because the information on the screen may be the only information available to an operator. In these cases, small details in the graphic display can be the line between operational success and failure.
GBIs enable Developers to consider Operator needs when working on the system. Automation is not a process that can be easily broken into small parts. Instead, an automated system must be viewed as an interwoven system- anything that helps the parts of a system work together cohesively should be handled with consideration and care.
Remote telemetric and control systems utilize the high level communicative aspects of image development to an even greater extent than on-prem systems. GBIs are an example of OnPing’s drive to
Precise communication in image design and display in an HMI reduces risk of miscommunication in an automated system.
Improving Image Management
GitHub repos are great for disbursing information quickly throughout an organization. GBIs leverage GitHub to OnPing to utilize many of the great aspects of GitHub repositories directly in the HMI widget. GitHub integrations help OnPing scale with User needs moving forward using tools that are widely available and commonly used.
GitHub repositories, as an Image Management solution, represent several components of system organization Users can capitalize on with GBIs:
- Central Image Storage
- Compatible with commonly used formats (SVG, PNG)
- Improved Stability
- Version Control
- Access Management
- Improved Control of Information Access
The Roles of Storage in Image Management
GitHub repos are commonly used for storage management because they are flexible and easy to organize. Repos can be set up quickly and in innumerable ways. GBIs can be organized by site, company, groups of people, or any other way that may be useful for the organization. Repos organized to mirror the structure of a Company in OnPing create an additional layer of consistency and stability.
Git-Backed Images are sourced from these repos, and the decision to use GitHub as the source of the integration was made with Users in mind. We wanted a management platform that offered high degrees of flexibility to maximize customization and enable precision-focused design, but it needed to come with a proven track record and stable internal processes to ensure the feature would work reliably.
GitHub met these standards for our integrated image management system. Repos are stable, highly customizable, and information is maintained in such a manner that OnPing can reliably reach out and find needed information.
The GBI GitHub integration brings new versioning functionality to the OnPing platform. Not every change is good! GitHub repos can store older versions of HMI designs in case a change needs to be reverted.
Versioning helps smooth out the rough edges in HMI development. System developers now have a platform integrated method of version control, reducing work flow complexity.
The GBI GitHub Integration brings several new and improved image storage abilities to Users. With this integration, Users can track version history, centralize image storage, and feel confident in the reliable performance of OnPing HMIs.
These improvements to image storage are a welcome update to HMI development in OnPing.
Access Management in for Image Control
Stored information is only useful if it is also accessible. In industrial applications, information must be both accessible and secure. GitHub repos offer a few good built-in access management solutions that are relatively intuitive and easy to use.
Git-Backed Images are pulled from a repository but live in OnPing. Synchronized HMIs can be updated refreshing images to the latest version available in the repository.
Synchronizations reduce on-platform development time and dissociate technical expertise from the image development process. Creatives can focus on design, and the synchronization takes care of getting that work into OnPing for system developers to work with. In most cases, Ease of Use refers to removing technical obstacles from a process. Here, it is applicable in reverse – technically minded developers are not limited by a need for creative engineering!
Just like any process, Image Management is best when each person in the system is able to play to their strengths.
Importantly, GBIs live on OnPing, so synchronizations are not disrupted by changes to a repository. GBIs are simply created from code found in the repo. This relationship allows for wide disbursement of GBIs throughout a system’s HMI designs without compromising the integrity of any individual HMI display.
Synchronizations enable HMI standardization, better image creation, and maintain the integrity of each HMI as an independent system.
Off Platform Design for Better On Platform HMI Development
Repositories can be shared with anyone – for example, a 3rd party designer – and that access can be modified as needed. Repos facilitate access not only to people searching for stored information but also to creators of new information.
Using Repos as a bridge between development and operations in OnPing has some significant advantages. First, it creates an easier way of getting images up and online in the OnPing environment. GitHub users don’t require access to an OnPing account. Instead, access can be limited to a single (or several) external repositories. Minimizing information exposure is a natural byproduct and secondary benefit of this relationship.
The Role of Access in Image Management and HMI Reliability
Furthermore, designers can work on graphics with industry grade tools in a studio environment. This is a clear advantage to the potential quality of design, but it also serves to limit malfunction of HMI displays. Designs can be made and approved outside the synchronized repository. Access to the GBI repo can be limited to finalized products.
Synchronized repos combine the benefits of centralized storage and better access management to ensure system developers have access to the best possible HMI tools at all times. Access plays a vital role in an Image Management system.
OnPing aims to simplify data. As the automation world continues to grow, it is more important than ever to provide Users with tools to develop the best possible tools for system development.
Integrations offer access to powerful external tools to bring new functionality into the OnPing environment. GBIs are a great example. With the GBI GitHub integration, Users tap into a sophisticated image management system. This feature improves access management in OnPing, offers finer control over image display, and brings the utility of GitHub as a storage system directly to developers on the OnPing platform.
Image Management is an area of automation with lots of room for improvement. The GBI GitHub integration represents a step towards improving the Image Management infrastructure in OnPing to encourage better HMI designs moving forward.