Internet helps cut software costs

California Senior Deputy Attorney General Thomas Greene recently likened the emergence of the Internet to the early development of railroads in the 19th century. Both have had a remarkable impact on many facets of life, from communication to business and the economy, and make the world seem smaller and more accessible.

06/01/1999


California Senior Deputy Attorney General Thomas Greene recently likened the emergence of the Internet to the early development of railroads in the 19th century. Both have had a remarkable impact on many facets of life, from communication to business and the economy, and make the world seem smaller and more accessible.

Just as railroads make it easier to cover great distances more quickly, the Internet delivers a much more dynamic means of using and sharing information. Just like the railroads, the Internet began on a small scale, but has now expanded into many more aspects of everyday life.

For example, many software packages now incorporate web browsers into their interfaces. Users can access previously unavailable resources simply by clicking on Internet links within the application. This feature adds tremendous improvement in software functionality.

No hardware required

Web integration can seen in Fluor Daniel's (Greensboro, S.C.) TabWare OnLine product, which allows registered users full TabWare capabilities, such as equipment and event tracking; preventive and predictive maintenance; and other asset management duties, without the need for additional hardware or server capabilities. All that is required to run the program is a Java-enabled browser.

By using the online version, any number of users can access the plant's TabWare system anytime at minimal cost. Each user is given a personal login ID with a dynamic password. This, combined with the system's 128-bit encryption technology, ensures security.

Not all software packages use the web interface exclusively. Some simply have the option of connecting to the Internet from a point in the application, and others switch between the Internet and the software's normal interface.

Try before buying

Another highly useful merger of Internet and non-Internet software is the development of web sites that let users test software products before buying. This helps users decide if a particular product will work in a given application.

The usual method of offering trial versions of software for direct download from vendor web sites is the tried-and-true way for many companies to let users test products. Some companies, however, actually allow a test drive on the web itself, eliminating the need to add yet another file to the hard drive.

For example, Plant-Web by Fisher-Rosemount has an interactive web site where users can build a virtual plant automation project with a demo version of PlantWeb. The demo requires a browser plug-in called Shockwave, which can be downloaded directly from the site.

Visitors to the Plant-Web site choose an industry (pulp and paper, oil and gas, chemical/petrochemical, or other), then customize a basic model. Here, it can be determined how well PlantWeb will work for each user.

National Instruments has also recently made a free demo available online, namely its Lookout HMI/SCADA software. After filling out a brief registration online and receiving e-mail notification on the demo's availability, users can go directly to National Instrument's web site to test out the software.

Both off these online demos save time by eliminating the need to install demo software, and save money by telling potential buyers ahead of time if a particular software package is the best choice, thus avoiding costly mistakes down the road.


Author Information

Laura Zurawski, web editor lzurawski@cahners.com


Online Software Offerings

TabWare OnLine:

PlantWeb demo site:

Lookout HMI/SCADA preview:

Other Sites with Software Downloads

Ci Technologies Inc.:

Foxboro Co.:

Sequencia Corp.:

Iconics Inc:

Intellution:

Rockwell Software:



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