Update: OPC Xi is now called OPC .NET 3.0.
Original post: It’s been a while since I’ve shared an update from Emerson’s Lee Neitzel on the OPC Xi standard. If you’re not familiar with this new addition to the OPC Foundation‘s family of communications standards, here are three prior posts that give an overview of this Microsoft .Net-based standard:
- Secure, Firewall Friendly Communications
- OPC Xi Builds on Process Manufacturing Communication Standards
- OPC Express Interface (OPC Xi) Technical Overview Slidecast
The OPC Foundation website describes OPC Xi as:
…the result of collaboration among several OPC vendor companies from the process industry to develop an easily integrated and secure solution for a variety of plant communications. OPC Xi’s primary objective was to provide a .NET-based migration path from OPC Classic. Additionally, OPC Xi may be used as a standard .NET WCF [Window Communication Foundation] interface for newly developed OPC servers.
A lot has changed over the 14 years the OPC standards have been helping process manufacturers connect applications together in a standards-based way. Cyber-security has grown in importance, as have the network technologies such as firewalls. OPC Xi updates the original Microsoft COM technologies to .Net to take advantage of the security, authentication, and other security/performance improvements.
The latest news from the OPC Foundation is that Lee and fellow OPC Xi developers are starting the Xi Implementation and Demo project. This project is open to all OPC Members, that will be conducted using weekly teleconferences to review the Xi Reference Implementation code for clients and servers to show developers how to adapt the wrapper code to their servers, and how to use the client code to quickly integrate Xi into client applications. Automation suppliers participating in this project are expecting to test their products, first over the internet, and then at the OPC Interop, tentatively planned for May of this year.
Lee shared that the teleconferences will be recorded and made available to OPC members. Anyone wishing to attend or needing more information should contact Lee.
One upcoming event is a June 29th OPC Foundation WebDemo (I hope to provide a link when it becomes available). It will highlight OPC Xi access to OPC Data Access (DA), Historical Data Access (HDA), and Alarms & Events (A&E) servers by 3-D client applications, Microsoft Silverlight applications, and handheld devices. Another event where OPC Xi will be presented is at Connectivity Week 2010 May 24-27, in Santa Clara, Ca.
One final note I wanted to share is that the OPC Xi code is available on the OPC Foundation website to members and non-members. If you are not a member, the set of documents include OPC Xi Specifications, OPC Xi Introduction, and a License Agreement. The source code, freely available to anyone, includes Source Code Projects containing the base projects (libraries) for an OPC Xi Server implementation.
Members receive an additional OPC Xi WCF Performance Comparisons document and additional source code including:
- Wrapper Projects: Source Code Projects containing reference “wrappers”. These wrappers allow you to wrap an OPC Classic DA, A&E and/or HDA Server, enabling access from Xi Clients
- Client Projects: Source Code Projects containing the base projects (libraries) for an OPC Xi Client implementation
- Discovery Server Projects: Source Code Projects containing examples of Discovery servers for querying the availability of OPC Xi Servers during runtime
- Contracts and Constants: Source Code Projects containing core implementation of OPC Xi
- WCF Performance Testing of Xi: Source code Projects and Batch files for automated testing of OPC Xi Performance using various WCF bindings
If you’re an automation engineer, you may want your IT developers to know about these developments and to participate if your organization has in-house applications currently running on OPC DA, OPC HDA, and/or OPC A&E.
Update: Lee shared this news item, OPC Xi Implementation and Demo Project Launch, posted at the OPC Training Institute site. It includes a link (registration required) to an OPC Xi Overview whitepaper.