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Using Postman to Test API Calls

By Calvin Hamus | 07/20/2021
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As automation systems become more connected, it’s increasingly necessary to utilize different tools to test your applications. Fortunately, there are plenty to choose from. Postman is an API platform for building and using APIs, and is an extremely useful tool for testing any call that your SCADA system uses, including any API’s you’ve created in your SCADA system. While it’s great for testing out individual API’s using the generic GET, PUT, POST, and DELETE calls, the real power comes from using Collections inside of Postman and automating the tests as much as possible.

Below is a walkthrough of some of the systems we put in place to test out every API endpoint inside of Locera. Although Locera is a traditional software system and not a SCADA system, the same principles can be applied to test your SCADA projects, along with any software projects you are building or have already built.

Step 1: Create your Workspace

First thing first after downloading Postman, get your account set up and create a workspace to store all of your Collections and tests.

Step 2: Create your Environments

After you have a Workspace setup you’ll want to create as many environments as you need to test. Here I have a Dev, a Test, and an implied Prod. Here you will also want to set any Variables you may want available through the tests. I just use placeholders as I will change them programmatically later.

Postman Workspace Creation Page

Step 3: Create Collection and Assign Pre-request Scripts if Needed

Now that your environments are set up, go to the collections tab and click the plus button to create your first Collection. Once the collection is established, click on the item you just created to start working with Pre-Request Scripts. A Pre-Request Script allows you to define a set of logic that will call before each request. In this case, it logs a user in and stores the result as an environment variable. When you see the code pm.variables.set this is setting an environment variable for you to have access to anywhere else in the collection. These can be accessed either through code with the pm.variables.get script or with {{variable name}} in non script parts of Postman. Because Locera uses Authentication and Authorization, you need a way to login a user to make subsequent API calls, this can be accomplished with a Pre-Request Script.

Step 4: Create Request

Now it’s time to create your request. Simply choose the request type, enter the URL, environment variables, and assign any headers needed.

Step 5: Write Tests

Postman has a great selection of snippets that can be used to start testing. Some of the basic tests that can be written are: verify status codes, verify values, and validate return schema.

Step 6: Run Tests

Click the top level of your Collection folder and press the Run button. This will run every test in the collection all at once, thus automating a little bit of your testing process.

Summary

With Postman, we’ve been able to automate parts of our API testing to streamline the validation of Locera’s calls. Hopefully this quick step by step helps with your projects and prevents some unnecessary bug-squashin’ in the future.

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TopView SCADA Connect Now Supports WinCC V7

By KAASM | 10/21/2020
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Exele recently dropped some great news about TopView that is sure to excite the Siemens WinCC V7 user community. With its latest update, TopView’s SCADA Connect now supports direct connectivity to V7, simplifying the integration and configuration of TopView into your SCADA system.

In less time than it takes you to get ready for a Zoom meeting, which we think is more or less 5 minutes, SCADA Connect can sync with V7 and import the alarm details, e.g. alarm tags, alarm detection, descriptions/messages, priorities, bi-directional acknowledge, and alarm groups/areas. Once complete, SCADA Connect will continue to help synchronize the alarms in V7 and TopView.

TopView is reliable, robust, and offers insightful alarm analytics that have filled a gap in the market left by other alarm notification software platforms. The release of SCADA Connect for WinCC V7 further sets TopView apart from its competitors. 

2020 has been difficult enough and you could use a break! Make things easier on yourself by simplifying your alarm notifications within your SCADA platform. Contact us today for this latest release and if you aren’t working with TopView yet, we’d love to tell you all about it. Call, email, or fax us @ KAASM.com

Furthermore, SCADA Connect for TopView 6.34 and later adds support for Citect, ClearSCADA / Geo SCADA, RSLinx, RSView32, WinCC V7, and FactoryTalk Controller Alarms. 

Full list of supported SCADA systems: 

  • Siemens WinCC V7 (new)
  • Schneider Electric/Aveva Citect (new)
  • Schneider Electric/Aveva ClearSCADA / Geo SCADA (new)
  • Rockwell FactoryTalk View SE A&E tag-based, HMI Tag Alarms (new), A&E Controller-based (new)
  • Rockwell RSLinx (with PLC) (new) and RSView32 (new)
  • Wonderware/Aveva InTouch
  • Wonderware /Aveva System Platform
  • Wonderware /Aveva InTouch Edge (Indusoft)
  • GE iFix

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Increase Workplace Safety with Real-Time Locating Systems

By Shawn Sandoval | 04/24/2020
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Writing to you from ground zero here in Seattle, we have been monitoring and working with essential businesses throughout this pandemic. Just yesterday, a Tyson Foods plant in Eastern Washington, reported that 100 of their workers tested positive for COVID-19. There is no doubt we have to rethink how we are going to get back to work in a safe manner and rethink how we conduct business.

As a technology company, one of our core competencies is active transponder technology. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, our company had been developing a location tracking software application that leverages active transponders by Siemens Industry to locate and track things. The things that can be monitored in real-time include products, equipment, and people. In reality, you can track anything that a transponder device can be attached to.

Our Latest Thinking

What if you could…

  • Contact trace to monitor and manage social distancing
  • Monitor a heat map of high-traffic areas in your facility so that you could focus sanitation efforts in the right places and manage how people move around the workplace.
  • Be able to notify individuals who came into contact with an infected person in your facility.

Our development team has created a software extension for existing Siemens Real-Time Locating Systems (RTLS) to enhance location tracking. We were planning to launch our software extension in June or July however, given the current circumstances, we thought it would be apropos to start making people aware of the product as it could mitigate a tremendous amount of risk.

Built on Real-Time Locating Systems by Siemens

RTLS is a solution that allows anything with an active transponder to be monitored and tracked. These active devices can be attached to things like equipment, products, tools, and or people. The active signals coming from the “things” can then be viewed in real-time and decisions can be made to increase safety, and improve operations.

How does it work?

Customers would need to determine what things would need to be monitored along with their associated areas. Transponders would then be attached to the things and a signal would be transmitted for consumption. This signal would be ingested at an anchor or gateway location and available for viewing both on-premise or on a wide area network (Cloud). RTLS information is accessible via smart devices, laptops, PC workstations, etc. The graphic below is a visual representation of the RTLS system setup.

Location Insight

Once your things are connected, they can now be tracked in real-time and informed decisions can be made. For example, the following insight would enable the user to understand the traffic patterns of both individuals or groups of people at a particular area or location. Based on the figure below, one could deduce that focused sanitation efforts should be applied in higher traffic areas or general re-routing could be taken into consideration.

Here is a dashboard view of things in an area being monitored in real-time.

Additional Features

  • Real-Time tracking
  • Historical records applied to areas and general movement
  • Contact tracing
  • Association – When things come into contact or relation with other things

Stay safe and healthy.

To learn more about applying RTLS technology at your facility please feel free to contact us.

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InFluxDB: Parallel Data Logging with WinCC OA NextGen Archiver

By Calvin Hamus | 04/21/2020
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The New Stuff

With the release of WinCC OA 3.17, one of the most anticipated additions was the inclusion of InfluxDB. Since InfluxDB is based on an open-source architecture it dramatically improves ease of integration and offers some cool new features. The following steps will show you how to set up parallel data logging to a separate instance of InfluxDB on a remote computer.

Here is our simple system setup.

  1. Open System Management Click the Database Configuration button from within your System Management to open your configurations. 
  2. Inside the NGA configuration click on the Backend tab and add a new backend by clicking on the insert below button. 
  3. Give the new backend a name
  4. Select a Profile, the default profile will work fine for this example.
  1. Click the wrench icon to open the settings.
  2. ClickExecutable file:” set it to NGAinfluxBackend.
  1. Next, go to the Database tab on this screen and fill in the connection information to your other instance of InfluxDB. 

NOTE(S): You will need to create the database in your other instance of InfluxDB to reference on this screen.

  1. Select theArchive Groups” tab.
  2. Click on the insert below button to pull up the add Archive Group screen. 
  3. Select the backend you just created and fill out the rest of the options

NOTE(S) You can follow the same settings as the EVENT Group.

  1. Open your Para and add your archive config. Inside the archive config simply click the Insert Below button and select the archive group that we created in the previous steps
  1. Inside of your stand-alone InfluxDB system, you must create a retention policy that is the same name as your Backend and Archive Group within WinCC OA.

One of the benefits of this approach is one database can provide smoothing and the other would contain raw data. You can configure your setup to do this.

Summary

The NGA is a great addition to the WinCC OA platform and will make the way that data is collected in the platform even easier.  For other WinCC OA and InfluxDB ideas, check out our other blogs. For more information or questions, please comment below or contact us!

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WinCC OA: Discontinued in V3.17

By KAASM | 04/07/2020
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WinCC OA Logo

With the recent release of WinCC OA V3.17, Siemens/ETM has improved and extended modern features into the platform and stopped supporting outdated a few outdated components. The following post highlights some of those changes.

Features Discontinued in 3.17

COM manager 32bit

The COM manager will be no longer available as 32bit version.

Login based on hook functions

Siemens/ETM will no longer support this functionality in WinCC OA 3.17. Siemens/ETM strongly recommends taking a  closer look at the WinCC OA new login framework (see the documentation for details).

OLEDB Provider

The OLEDB provider will no longer be supported, please have a look at the Excel Report or recommended SOAP Reporting Interface.

Advanced S7-Lib

This will no longer be supported. Siemens/ETM will provide the source code at portal.etm.at, please note that this will be provided without support, liability or guarantee of functionality.

For more information or questions, please comment below or contact us.

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WinCC OA V3.17 P003 Now Available for Download

By KAASM | 04/01/2020
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Siemens ETM released patch 3 for WinCC OA version 3.17, today. You can download WinCC OA V3.17 P003 via our Knowledgebase software download section.

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Doom and WinCC OA get Embed Together

By Calvin Hamus | 03/31/2020
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One of the best things about working for KAASM is the ability to try different things while challenging my creativity among our solutions and the tutorials I’ve put together. As a big player of video games and lover of video game culture and history, I have been thinking a lot about the new game Doom Eternal.

It led me to wonder if I could get the original Doom to run inside of WinCC OA? The creative juices started flowing and after a few setbacks and lots of caffeine, I answered my question. Yes, you can run Doom inside of WinCC OA!!  Would this ever be useful to an end customer? Probably not. However, it does show the flexibility of the software and its ability to do almost anything you ask of it. Hopefully, somewhere out there, an operator is secretly setting up deathmatches in their downtime.

Inspired by: https://itrunsdoom.tumblr.com/

#itrunsdoom

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WinCC OA: Free InHouse Development for 3.16/3.17

By KAASM | 03/27/2020
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In support of remote working environments, Siemens/ETM is offering WinCC OA v3.16/v3.17 Development licenses valid for 2 months for FREE for WinCC OA Solution Partners and WinCC OA Premium Solution Partners.

Interested in this offer?

  • let us know your version;
  • the e-mail address of the person in your organization who should receive the license key

You can submit your request to us at sales@kaasm.com.

Please consider also a WinCC OA Version Upgrade for your customers.

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WinCC OA: Creating Dashboards with Web Technologies

By Calvin Hamus | 03/26/2020
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WinCC OA has the ability to embed HTML / JS / CSS into a project. These features are essential for creating modern dashboards.  In this blog, you will explore how to use modern web libraries to interact with WinCC OA. With a few clicks, you can turn WinCC OA into a web server that can do many things, including hosting web pages inside of your project. The easiest way to enable the webserver is to locate the webclient_http.ctl file, then drag and drop the .ctl file onto your WinCC OA Console.  After you’ve added it to your console, you can turn it on like any other Control Manager.

You can deliver HTML / CSS / JS web files, by adding them to the following project directory location. Most of the time your starting file will be an index.html file.

{Path to your Project}\data\html

Connecting your web pages to WinCC OA can be done using standard tools inside of the graphical editor (GEDI) that will allow you to build responsive designs. By using a combination of WinCC OA’s Layout Management and CSS you can build 100% responsive design for all types of devices. In this example, we’ve created a new .xml panel, added the WebView object, and an initialize script that will enable communication between the HTML page and WinCC OA.

Image “A” shows the dashboard via a Quick Client test in a normal-sized view.  The two numbers, 3 and 4, are being read from WinCC OA and will update when the datapoint changes.

Image A

Image “B” shows exact same dashboard code base displayed on a mobile device. 

Image B

HTML / CSS / JS for responsive design has been around for a long time. The toolsets are mature and readily available. If you are looking to create modern applications using WinCC OA, please feel free to contact us for guidance.

For a complete step by step tutorial on this topic please visit our knowledge base article: Using Web Technologies in WinCC OA to Build Dashboards

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COVID-19 Company Update

By Shawn Sandoval | 03/24/2020
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In response to the COVID-19 epidemic, Washington State Governor Jay Inslee issued an Executive Order directing all residents to immediately heed current State public health directives to stay home, except as needed, to maintain continuity of operations of essential critical infrastructure sectors.

KAASM is part of the CISA critical infrastructure workforce and this response notification is to ensure our critical infrastructure, manufacturing, and information technology customers that KAASM will continue operations in all regions and provide the highest levels of support during these challenging times.

Extended hours support is available upon request and our standard contact information can via our contact us page, https://kaasm.com.

Stay healthy, safe, and resilient.

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