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Anthony Trudeau

I was anxious to install the new version of the iMotion EdgeWare platform since Wednesday when it came via Federal Express. My installation was delayed, because of some competing priorities, but mostly, because I wanted to setup a machine without interfering with my current work that I could use to test my .NET Framework 2.0 components.

I was dually warned by our GlobeRanger representative and support contact that 5.1 has not been certified with the .NET Framework 2.0. However, I'm at the beginning of a development cycle, and I just cannot see using the .NET Framework 1.1 only to convert it later. I suspect that by the time I'm done with my project that the platform will be certified with .NET Framework 2.0; and hopefully my testing will expedite that.

I ended up cleaning up my main test machine. I removed Visual Studio 2005 Professional and the ten thousand things it installed. (I played with it before installing the Team Edition for Developers on my development machine.) And then I installed the .NET Framework 2.0, because there were problems installing 5.0.4 with .NET Framework 2.0 being installed and I wanted to see if it was still a problem.

It turns out it wasn't a problem. The platform installed flawlessly and it used the same license key that I already had. The program menu hierarchy changed slightly from 5.0. Now, GlobeRanger is the top level followed by a level for the platform. It appears as though the service manager is gone. I'm quite disappointed about that, because I had grown accustomed to using it to control the services and work flows during testing.

My first stop in my look at the applications was the Event Workflow Editor. I really didn't expect many changes here, and I wasn't disappointed. The only difference I noticed was the addition of the “Active Document” stencil in the toolbox that has a list of all event controls you have defined on the open work flow. The good thing is that the Event Workflow Editor now seems to remember the window size and position. The bad thing is that the issue of the missing label when scrolling is still there. This issue occurs when you have an event control below the viewable space. In these cases the scroll bar doesn't scroll far enough to bring the label into view.

The Edge Management Console appears to be where most of the visual changes occurred. Although, the changes aren't readily apparent. The one thing that struck me right away was the prompts to “download server packages”. I'm really not sure what that means, but it appears that it's downloading only the necessary support files, because the EMC can be setup on a computer not running the iMotion services.

It was nice to see that a lot of the dialogs just seem a little more standardized and cohesive. My only complaint here was with the Hardware Settings Profile wizard. The step where you specify the profile values doesn't contain the explanatory information it used to. I think this was done to improve the consistency between different reader adapters, but I think something could still be done to provide a little information. The two images below illustrate the 5.0 and 5.1 versions of the wizard for the included reader emulator.

  

The consumption settings have more options including tag filters and the ability to specify what tags are supported for the specific reader adapter.  The included reader emulator only supports class1 gen 2 tags apparently.  But, probably the coolest edition is the RF Control options which I think will be what you  need to ensure a duty cycle which is enforced in Europe.  I need to look into this more to determine if that is the case though.

The items in the group services tab have completely changed.  Gone are the hard to follow inbound and outbound reader groups and in are the reader command group and tag acquisition group for example.  The ALE specification editor is now easier to follow and an option is included for a continuous event cycle.  In the previous version you had to specify a repeat period and a duration interval that matched up in order to reproduce a continuous event cycle.  I guess you still could.

My last stop is the reader emulator.  Visually this application didn't change much.  The main change here besides the edition of gen 2 constructs is that you can specify an image for the emulation items instead of the canned image.  I see this the most useful when you want to show a box instead of just a plain old tag.

My final stop was Visual Studio 2003 which is still the development environment of choice for the platform.  I just took a cursory look at the templates and it looks like everything is the same.

The iMotion EdgeWare platform is a very solid framework for developing work flow applications that are RFID-centric.  I've enjoyed working with the platform for the last year, and I'm excited to start delving into some of the new API improvements such as for creating my own reader adapters.  (I haven't seen anything that hints to this being included, but I've been told it's there.) 

Posted on Friday, December 2, 2005 1:19 PM | Back to top


Comments on this post: iMotion EdgeWare 5.1 First Impressions

# re: iMotion EdgeWare 5.1 First Impressions
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Tony,

Glad to hear your install went well and so far things sound good.

The main reason the adapter's hardware settings dialog has changed was to support the reader adapter SDK so we could recommend "the way" to create those dialogs, and overdoing it with images wasn't quite what we wanted to do. I agree about the lack of description in the 5.1 version for sure. There are tooltips on both the checkbox and the textbox though (that's another thing we've been making more cohesive throughout).

The reader adapter SDK is "there", though it's GA release is still pending. It's going through the last mile at the moment so it'll be soon.

The "download server packages" dialog is something we've exposed through the user interface that actually used to silently occur in the background. Unlike applications like MMC and similar management consoles, you do not actually need to install what you're attempting to manage through the EMC. With MMC, you have to install the SQL Snapin, you have to have IIS Snapin, etc. Ours works by allowing a server to publish a set of packages (drivers if you will) that will power the user interface of the EMC for things that haven't necessarily been installed on the machine that's hosting the EMC (such as reader adapters, ALE encoding adapters, binary device adapters, etc). This allows you to create an EMC-only installation and allow the server to dictate the UI for the EMC; this allows you to roll out version updates and bugfixes through these packages and all EMC clients receive them without anything more than a click or two in the EMC.

Like I said, that used to be a silent feature pre-5.1, but since we added true version redirection support (meaning you can install a newer version, say 5.2, of iMotion on Server A and have a 5.1 EMC connect to it and use any 5.2 assemblies necessary) and this requires application restarts (due to app.config changes) we made the feature a first class citizen.

There are quite a few other new features:
* Improved performance
* Improved stability
* Improved usability
* Support for accessibility applications (screen readers, et al)
* True EMC multi-select operation support
* Duplicate objects in the EMC
* Rename objects in the EMC
* Gen 2 extended data
* Tag extended lifetime on ALE specs (to further smooth ALE event cycle boundaries)
* Tag time-to-live in Tag Acquisition Groups (to expire data that's been living for too long in a group with aggregation rules)
* ALE encoding adapters: now we can support new EPC TDS versions (as well as any other standard) without rolling a new platform version
* Tag Monitor now supports ALE reports and displaying extended data (previously this was through an expansion pack)

There's more, but this is getting too long and hard to write in this tiny window!

Adam..
Left by Adam Sills on Dec 02, 2005 2:46 PM

# re: iMotion EdgeWare 5.1 First Impressions
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I definitely wasn't trying to short the new version for lack of features. I addressed a few of them in an entry I did before Thanksgving. Here's the link: http://www.geekswithblogs.net/tonyt/archive/2005/11/23/61074.aspx
Left by Anthony Trudeau on Dec 02, 2005 3:25 PM

# re: iMotion EdgeWare 5.1 First Impressions
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I didn't think you were doing that, I was just providing a short list of additional stuff I didn't know if you knew about.
Left by Adam Sills on Dec 02, 2005 4:03 PM

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