Control Engineering Newsletter for Software -- May 2002


In this issue:

Microsoft in the News

Microsoft has been in the news several times in the past week.

The company announced a JDBC driver enabling Java developers to utilize SQL Server database. Another announcement was the acquisition of Navision, a Danish company that provides business solutions to mid-market and smaller companies. It will be integrated with Great Plains Software, another recent Microsoft acquisition. This becomes interesting because the big enterprise application companies have announced plans to scale applications to smaller companies. Meanwhile, Microsoft is building quite a portfolio of products.

For more, visit

The last flurry of news centered around the seemingly never-ending lawsuit brought by the U.S. Government and several states alleging abuse of monopolistic powers. This phase of the proceedings was to provide a revised remedy to the previous court's findings against the company.

Almost all automation and control software has become based on a Microsoft Windows platform. There is no doubt that what happens to Microsoft is important to our industry. Meanwhile, I correspond with several people developing control and information applications based on Linux, and it is technically a viable alternative. I don't think it will become widespread unless a big company with marketing muscle adopts Linux. IBM has discovered that open source code can work for a commercial company, but I have yet to hear of an automation company willing to try.

What do you think? Have an opinion on the Microsoft case? Or on using Linux? Have you tried Linux, yet? Let me know at

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Rockwell Software

Rockwell Software has released Arena Factory Analyzer. The application uses a simulated model of the factory to analyze and predict how a plant will perform under various conditions like changes in demand, order mix, or staffing levels. I've written about simulation and emulation, and I think that these tools are growing increasingly powerful and useful. Read more on this topic in the April 2001 issue of Control Engineering at /archives/2001/ctl0401.01/010403.htm

RSTestStand is another new application from Rockwell Software. This product enables you to create virtual control system scenarios that can be used to test design configurations and programs. You can find the company at

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Citect's Gary Hopkins speaks up

Gary Hopkins, U.S. president of Ci Technologies, recently called to offer some updates on happenings there and in the industry. First, the company has recently changed its name to reflect its flagship product, Citect. Company headquarters have moved to a new location in Sydney, Australia. Mr. Hopkins noted that HMI has 'grown up.' Although the software is not really DCS, it has gotten powerful enough to do more than HMI.

Another focus for the company is to build APIs to legacy software so that Citect can act as a business-wide connector to larger SQL database systems. The challenge, he noted, is helping a customer identify where the return is for these large software systems. Citect is at

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Adonix data collection for ERP

Just as I was finishing this newsletter, I heard about another mid-market ERP supplier with manufacturing ties, Adonix. Its new Adonix Data Collection module is an automated data collection solution embedded in Adonix X3 that communicates among manufacturing, distribution, and accounting functions. It gathers data directly from automated input devices across operational areas, verifies its accuracy, and passes the data to the ERP product for immediate update. It also controls all prompts on collection devices, manages the entire network of devices, and ensures that data is saved during system downtime.

The company's web site is . Although information on the site is somewhat general, it does provide a way to get detailed information.

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IBM web services

In the 'web services' race, the current competition is among Sun One, Microsoft .Net, and IBM WebSphere. Last week, IBM announced WebSphere Studio application development products for Linux and web site development, as well as new toolkits for building wireless, portal, and voice applications. They are all based on the Eclipse platform, which is supported by an open-source community for multi-vendor software tool integration. The developer offers web services, Java, J2EE, XML, and web development environments.

For more, visit

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Red Hat Linux

Red Hat announced the Red Hat Network Education Channels, designed to support students and educators with access to the Red Hat Linux 7.3 operating system via Red Hat Network. Red Hat Linux 7.3 is designed to deliver what educational institutions need for flexible Internet-based computing. These channels will ease and accelerate adoption of open source software within the education community. The channels include Educational Channel tailored for teachers and IS administrators, as well as high school and university students and K-12 Linux Terminal Server Project Channel to enable K-12 teachers and IS administrators to set up computer science labs with an Open Lab architecture.

For more, visit

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What's a professional?

Business writer, Dale Dauten, the 'Corporate Curmudgeon,' in a column published May 8 in the Dayton (Ohio) Daily News wondered what most companies got out of the recent revolution in work arrangements. They looked at the three principles, he noted, 1) put in exceptionally long hours, 2) work in a very cool environment, and 3) get fabulously rich, and decided to keep just one. We all know which. He brings this up in connection with an incipient movement to return the workplace to a formal atmosphere. This follows over a year of press releases from the men's wear industry association promoting wearing suits again (another self-explanatory statement).

Brings up the question, what is a professional? Is it formality? Or is formality really conformity in disguise? I had a secretary once who couldn't imagine me without a tie. I suddenly realized last weekend as I was looking for a tie to wear to a wedding, that I haven't bought a new one for about three years. I don't think my professionalism has slipped any. I can remember when engineers in factories had to wear ties, which can be dangerous around moving machinery! What's a professional to you? Do you need a tie?

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