This blog is dedicated to open, interoperable manufacturing software and the coolest, latest and greatest things I see every day while conducting business under the banner of Inductive Automation.

Hello, my name is Steve Hechtman and I am president of Inductive Automation. During the span of one day there is more excitement, more discovery than I can possibly keep to myself. This blog is, therefore, my outlet. WARNING: This site is highly biased in favor of the most powerful, affordable manufacturing software in the world - Ignition by Inductive Automation!

What we Believe

People who know us know we are passionate about Ignition. This derives from the fact that we come from system integrator roots and originally built it for ourselves based on our trials and tribulations while trying to give our customers what they wanted at a price they could afford. Originally, I didn't want to be in the software business but was forced into it because no matter where I looked the model was the same and unworkable for most of my needs. These beliefs form our DNA and are the reason we exist:

We believe existing licensing models are outdated, unfair and punitive.
We believe most of the technology in use today is clumsy and outdated.
We believe in leveraging modern web and database technologies.
We believe runtime clients should be free.  
We believe that tag limits should be abolished.
We believe that development tools should be free.
We believe in licensing by the server and that it should include everything.
We believe in open connectivity and that closed, proprietary systems are dumb.
We believe it shouldn't matter what operating system you run on.
We believe you should be able to connect to any brand or number of databases.
We believe you should be able to make data-rich applications quick and easy.
We believe in central management and single click deployment.
We believe that software should install in minutes.
We believe in free and fully functional trial downloads.
We believe you shouldn’t have identify yourself to try software.
We believe prices should be published openly and on the web.
We believe that ridiculously high support fees are ridiculous.
We believe email and forum support should be free.

We believe it is paramount to always deliver more than is expected.

Finally, we believe the foregoing principles improve business results by making actionable information (and control) available to those who need it without imposing unreasonable barriers.

VOIP Systems

VOIP relates to telephony and stands for "Voice Over IP".  Many companies now use VOIP for their telephone systems.  While the cost and complexity of VOIP systems has been a barrier to entry in the past, now the open-source Asterisk software makes implementing and managing VOIP phone systems of any size affordable.

At Inductive Automation we run Asterisk on a modest Dell server machine and use affordable Polycom VOIP handsets.  There was a bit of a learning curve in the beginning, but we got over it and now it's a piece of cake for us to manage all of our calling features from a web page. And unlike other systems we had in the past we can keep adding extensions without limit.

There are now several inexpensive "all-in-one" VOIP systems on the market.  These have from 1 to 8 FXO ports (standard outside line) to connect to telco and don't require a PC at all.  It's just an appliance running the Asterisk software.  We've been experimenting with a couple of these.  One of these is made in Australia by Rowetel.  The one FXO line version is pictured above.  I believe it can support a good number of extensions.  A box like this would be perfect for home use.  The four or eight line version might perfect for a small business.  And nothing could be more affordable - the box above only costs $175 USD.

If you're wondering why we're experimenting with these cool little boxes, stay tuned.  You'll find out what it's all about in the first quarter of 2013.

NoSQL with Ignition? Is that possible?

One of our guys, Kevin McClusky,  came up with a way to integrate the NoSQL database MongoDB with Ignition.  Please realize that MongoDB does not respond to SQL queries, rather, it has it's own unique set of commands. But using these commands and Kevin's "how-to" in his blog post here you will be able to use MongoDB in Ignition.  

You can also read more about NoSQL databases from my earlier post here.

Big Software Company Mentality

There are big software companies with a small company mentality, and that's a good thing.  And then there are small software companies with a big company mentality, and that's a bad thing.  And then there are big software companies with a big company mentality and that is a very bad thing.  

How do I define the big company mentality?  Arrogant.  Ignorant.  Happy to go on being that way.  

Have you ever visited a site and come away wondering "what the heck do they make?"  It uses nothing but stock photography.  It communicates in vast generalities, promises the sun, but answers nothing.  You're wondering "but what does it do," "what does it look like," "how much does it cost," and  "where can I download it so I can try it?"  Instead you're greeted with a form to fill out.  I don't think so... next site.

Contrast that with the small company mentality (whether the company is large or small) where the site says what it is, shows what it looks like, tells how much it costs and let's you download a free trial today without even identifying yourself.  Nothing to hide.  If you like it, give us a call.  Or just buy it on our site.  

How does the big company mentality survive?  They survive by having a big name (earned from a former time when they had a small company mentality), by customer lock-in (since the cost of labor to change is higher than the cost of the software itself) and by inertia (which should never be underestimated).