Recently I found out how to setup autologin for the Ignition Designer. This is the ability to start the Ignition Designer from a desktop shortcut and it automatically logs in and opens a project.
This is especially useful when developing an Ignition module that affects the designer because the designer will need to be restarted many times to test code changes.
Here's how to setup autologin for the Ignition Designer:
- Create a designer shortcut using a native client launcher.
- Edit the shortcut. Add the following parameters to the Target:
-Djavaws.ignition.debug=true -Dautologin.username=admin -Dautologin.password=password -Dproject.name=MyProject.
Replace the username, password and project name with your specific information.
Here is an example of a complete Target in a shortcut:
C:\Users\nick\Downloads\clientlauncher.exe scope=D windowmode=window gateway.addr=192.168.1.4:8088:8043 -Djavaws.ignition.debug=true -Dautologin.username=admin -Dautologin.password=password -Dproject.name=MyProject
That's it. The next time the shortcut is double-clicked the designer will automatically login and open the project.
Security must be kept in mind, as this setup makes it easy for people to log in to the designer as you if they get your Designer shortcut.
One of the great things about Ignition is its ability to web-deploy applications created with it. Notice that Ignition applications are not "web-based", they are "web-deployed". Web-deployed means an application is downloaded from a web server and started.
Web-based applications are web-deployed too — web-based applications and Ignition applications have that in common. Web-based applications are webpages downloaded from a web server and ran in a web browser. Ignition applications are downloaded from Ignition's web server and ran in a Java Virtual Machine. (In other words an Ignition application is downloaded and automatically started as a Java desktop application.)
Ignition does have a built-in web-based application for configuring many things in Ignition. But the applications/projects created with Ignition are typically Java desktop applications that are web-deployed.
Ignition has two separate web-deploying technologies. Both of them can be used to deploy Ignition applications.
In the beginning Ignition only used Java Web Start, which is a web-deploying technology controlled and owned by Oracle. Here is a good description of Java Web Start from www.java.com:
The Java Web Start software allows you to download and run Java applications from the web. The Java Web Start software:
- Provides an easy, one-click activation of applications
- Guarantees that you are always running the latest version of the application
- Eliminates complicated installation or upgrade procedures
The problem with Java Web Start is that it is controlled by Oracle. In the past changes were made to Java Web Start that broke functionality in Ignition and in once case temporarily broke the ability to start projects on Linux.
Inductive Automation decided to implement their own web-deploying technology and did so. With this technology under their control they could make it stable, keep it from breaking Ignition, and add new functionality to it. This technology is called Native Client Launchers. It is called Native Client Launchers because separate client launcher executable programs exist for OS X, Windows and Linux.
One of the advantages of the client native launchers is that they can be used to create stable desktop shortcuts to projects or the Ignition designer. Shortcuts created with Java Web Start sometimes stop working.
Using a native client launcher is easy. Download the native client launcher executable for your operating system and then run it. The native client launcher will scan your network for Ignition servers. It will provide you with a list of Ignition servers it found. Once you choose an Ignition server you are provided with a list of projects that exist in that Ignition server. From there you can launch projects or the designer, and create shortcuts to projects and the Ignition designer.
The native client launchers are part of your Ignition server and are downloaded from your Ignition server. You can find and download them from the Ignition homepage. Here is a screenshot that shows where the native client launchers can be downloaded.
Every two or three months a new production version of Ignition comes out. Thankfully upgrading Ignition is usually a pleasant, easy and quick action.
The main thing to know about upgrading Ignition is that it is exactly like installing Ignition. You download the latest production version of Ignition and install it as if you were installing it for the first time on your server. This action upgrades your current Ignition installation. All your projects and configuration remain the same but your Ignition becomes the latest version. This is very nice.
It is good practice to make a gateway backup before upgrading. Inductive Automation provides instructions for installing Ignition on MAC OS X, Windows and Linux.
Ignition uses 3 numbers to indicate it's version. The current version of Ignition is 7.7.2. The first 7 is pretty static and hasn't changed since Ignition was first released in 2010. The second 7 is the major number. It indicates significant changes and significant new functionality compared to the prior major number. The 2 is the minor number. It indicates bug fixes, improvements and new functionality.
Upgrading Ignition from a minor number (for example upgrading from Ignition 7.7.1 to Ignition 7.7.2) is the easiest thing. It is free so no licensing changes are needed and the upgrade does not affect the current license.
Upgrading Ignition from a major number (for example upgrading Ignition from 7.6.5 to Ignition 7.7.2) requires a license change. This is because there are significant improvements and significant new functionality between major numbers. Before upgrading it is a good idea to upgrade your license so that it will be compatible with the new version of Ignition. Upgrading from a major version costs money to upgrade the license. Inductive Automation offers something called upgrade protection which can reduce the cost of major number upgrades.
I prefer and recommend to use the latest production version of Ignition in all projects. The reason is because the newest production version is almost always better than earlier versions.
Sometimes the changes between a minor number and the next minor number can actually be significant. The difference between Ignition 7.7.1 and Ignition 7.7.2 is such a case. Ignition 7.7.2 introduced a brand new, very powerful component called the Template Canvas. For the first time Ignition has a built-in tool for dynamically, programmatically creating instances of templates in Ignition. This means programmers can write Python programs to create screens dynamically (for instance based on data in a database) -- instead of designers creating everything up front on screens in a static fixed way.
Every Ignition version release has a changelog so it is possible to see what the new changes are. Here's a link to the changelog for Ignition 7.7.2: Ignition 7.7.2 Changlog.
Inductive Automation also releases development versions of Ignition. These are new versions of Ignition that are not ready for production but that you can download and try out. You can also report any bugs or problems with it to Inductive Automation to help them get it production ready. Also, if you can't wait for new functionality in the next version of Ignition, you can use a development version. For example you could use a development version of Ignition in your own development and use the production version of Ignition when it comes out for your production version of projects.