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Manager-16 Print Monitor System
The Manager-16 Print Monitor is a suite of Win32 programs that allow multiple users to view and print the output from a Rosemount Manager-16 Processor's system printer port at ordinary PC workstations. The Print Monitor can function as a replacement for the Manager-16 TI 810 system printer, but it's capabilities don't stop there. It takes advantage of modern networking technology to support real-time viewing of a Processor's printer output at multiple workstations simultaneously. In addition, it supports not only the viewing and printing of the Processor's entire output, but also logging of system alarm and status messages in a file, providing a permanent record of events that can be readily searched and sorted off-line. Finally, the Manager-16 Print Monitor is designed for security and reliability. Critical components of the system run as services that automatically re-start following any reboots of the hosting hardware, access to these services is controlled by a simple group membership test, and remote file operations performed by these services are automatically retried when network paths are temporarily inaccessible.
Overall, the Print Monitor can significantly improve users' access to the system status and alarm messages, reports, and operator console display captures that are available from the Manager-16 Processor and that are so critical to efficient management of the Manager-16 control system. Users can install the Print Monitor software on existing PCs and make use of an existing network and an existing standard printer, thereby minimizing the cost of installation. Thus, the Print Monitor can be an attractive alternative to maintaining the old system printer, a task that has become increasingly difficult and expensive for many Manager-16 users over time.
The following illustration shows a typical screen.
The Print Monitor program suite consists of four Win32 executables and a custom Windows font file.
The component programs perform specific functions that are described in detail in the sidebar on this page. The programs communicate with each other by means of named pipes. This communications mechanism allows the user to install the Print Monitor system in a number of different ways. Two examples are given here.
In a minimal
configuration, only the data collector, server and master programs
need to be installed, and they can all run on the same workstation,
which does not have to be on a local area network.
In a networked
configuration, the data collector, server, master and one or more
client programs can run on different machines. A typical
installation is illustrated below.
Functions of the Master Client
The Master program, m16prmon.exe, is an ordinary Win32 application. It accepts Manager-16 printer data from the server, formats it and displays it in a scrollable, re-sizable window. The contents of the window can be printed to any local or networked printer that might be installed on the host machine.
Manager-16 status and alarm messages are displayed in the master window as red text. Manager-16 reports and operator console screen dumps are displayed in blue. These latter displays generally contain both text and graphic elements. They are rendered using custom fonts, supplied with the program suite in a separate font file. This font file should be installed in the same directory as the master executable.
Two font sizes are available, but they are not manually selectable. The font size used depends on the resolution of the Windows desktop on which the master is running. If the desktop resolution is under 1280x1024, the smaller of the two fonts is used. If the resolution is 1280x1024 or greater, the larger of the fonts is used.
As new messages, reports and screen dumps are received at the master, they are added to the bottom of a display buffer. The buffer can hold up to 1024 lines of data. The operator can use the window's vertical scroll bar to bring any part of the display buffer contents into view. To see the latest information available, the user should scroll to the bottom of the buffer.
The master program has a menu system that allows the user to specify the name of the computer running the server and to then connect to the server and start receiving data. Printing of the data window is also controlled with the menu system.
The Master program also has menu facilities allowing the user to control the operation of the data collector. Using the Master program's menu system, the user can set the following parameters:
In a minimal configuration, the master program can run on the same machine that runs the data collector and the server. In a networked configuration, the master can run on any host machine that has access to the machine running the server.
Functions of the Aux Client
The client program, m16prmnc.exe, provides a subset of the functions of the master program. Like the master, it accepts Manager 16 printer data from the server, formats it and displays it in a re-sizable, scrollable window. It also supports printing of the contents of the window. Unlike the master, it does not support control of the data collector.
Running one or more clients is optional. The number of clients supported by the Print Monitor system is dependent on the type of license the user has. In a minimal configuration, the master, data collector and server are all installed on one machine, and no client is used. In a networked configuration, multiple clients can be run on separate networked hosts, provided they all have access to the machine that is running the server. However, it is not possible to run multiple instances of the client on the same host.
Minimum configuration: One PC running Windows NT4.0, 2000 or XP, CPU and memory appropriate to operating system, one available serial port.
Networked configuration: Each PC running Windows NT4.0, 2000 or XP, cpu and memory appropriate to operating system, Ethernet. The PC running the collector program must have one available serial port.
Functions of the Data Collector
The data collector, m16prcol.exe, runs on a PC that is connected by an RS-232 serial cable to the Manager-16 processor's printer port. The data collector is a Win32 service. It has no user interface (no Window) of its own. It is intended to run all the time as a background task. While it typically runs under the authority of an ordinary user, it is installed and set up to start and run automatically, so that the user does not have to log on and manually launch it. Once installed and started, it's operation can be controlled from the Print Monitor Master program.
The data collector program receives the serial data output from Manager-16 processor's system printer port and routes it to the server program, which distributes the data in turn to the master and optionally to one or more clients. The data collector also handles logging of the incoming data to a file, and automatic backup of the log file. When logging is enabled, the data collector examines the stream of incoming data to determine what parts of the stream constitute status and alarm messages. It extracts and formats these parts and writes them to a user-designated log file, which is typically a file on the local host. When backup is enabled, the data collector periodically (once a day, at a user-designated time), backs up the log file to an archive file, which is typically on a remote host. If the backup file on a remote host and temporarily unreachable, the data collector will retry the backup automatically every 30 minutes until the backup succeeds.
Note that logging is performed only on status and alarm messages received from the Manager-16 processor. Status and alarm messages constitute only one of three different types of output available from the Processor. Besides status and alarm messages, which are simple text messages, the processor can output reports of various kinds. It can also output representations of the Manager-16 operator console screens. Reports and screen dumps generally make use of special graphical characters; therefore they do not lend themselves to logging in the same way that status and alarm messages do. Reports and screen dumps are simply passed on to the master and client programs, which can represent them in their windows and print them on hard-copy devices.
Serial communications parameters, log file parameters, and backup parameters can be set by the user of the master program. The master program translates the user's settings into data collector commands and sends these commands to the data collector by way of the server. The data collector responds to commands from the master with status information that is routed back to the master by way of the server.
Functions of the Server
The server, m16prmns.exe, is also a Win32 service application with no user interface of its own, intended to run constantly “in the background”. It function is to establish and control the communications channels that are used by the other Print Monitor component programs. Communications between the component programs are handled by named pipes. This mechanism supports communications equally well whether the communicating programs are running on the same host or on different hosts connected by a network.
The server function is implemented in a separate executable in order to facilitate security measures that are necessary when communications takes place over a network. In a minimal configuration of the Print Monitor system, the data collector, server and master all run on the same PC under the same user's authority. In a networked configuration, the server is typically run on a designated server machine under the authority of the system administrator. The system administrator can control which users can connect to the server's pipes over the network by creating a Print Monitor user's group and making those users members of the group. When the administrator installs the server, he or she specifies to the server the name of the group he has created, whose members will have access to the pipes the server manages.
The server creates and controls four bi-directional pipes. One pipe is used to receive data from the collector program, another is used to transmit this data to the master and client programs for display, and to receive status information from the master and clients. A third pipe is used to receive commands from and transmit status information to the master. The fourth pipe is used to transmit commands to and receive status information from the data collector.
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