4 things we want in TwinCAT 4

I’ve been using TwinCAT 3 more or less since it was released, and since then it has become such an integrated part of my daily work that it’s my main software development platform. I like to develop software using TwinCAT 3, but I’ve come to the conclusion that there are some features I miss. I’m not the only person that uses TwinCAT 3, and this video is made in collaboration with someone that has vastly more experience in industrial automation than me – Peter Kurhajec. As we both work with TwinCAT 3 on a daily basis, we decided to do a video with the title “4 things we want in TwinCAT 4”. Consider this as a wish list for a future version of TwinCAT, so some kind of dream session.

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12 Comments, RSS

  1. Martin

    I received information from Beckhoff that they will introduce a standalone system manager with TC 3.1.4026. It will provide access to Automation Interface functionalities without DTE-Interface of
    Visual Studio via CLI, C# or PowerShell.
    Besides that, I think Beckhoff is more progressive that other supliers introducing features of traditional software development into the world of industrial automation. However, I experience the majority of PLC developers still prefers the “old style” and has problems working with OOP, version control, build pipelines etc.

  2. Christian

    You are right that developing the program language is a key to be the number one on the market, there shouldn’t be too much norm for programming languages like the IEC 61131-3. Just copy the ideas of good program languages. In my opinion Microsoft with C# is the best example. It is such nice to have good colors in your code and a nice Intellisense. In the future the classic PLC programmer will die out and everyone is thinking OOP.
    Furthermore, the cooperation with DevOps systems like Azure DevOps are key features, builds and code reviews should be easier. The Beckhoff HMI is on a good way with their NuGet packages but there is still a lot to do for easy use by non-web-developer. From my side some more suggestions are e.g.

    – Beckhoff should boost the community cause in other languages you find nearly every problem online on stack overflow and for PLC problems there is nearly nothing

    – Some companies also boost their customers with video tutorials which is very helpful and would be a big plus to use TwinCAT instead other systems. We all know that the documentation is very weak so finally we need the support.

    – The biggest weakness is that Beckhoff has no release notes. How the hell should I know what’s new? Ok I will ask the support. Again…

  3. Bart Witdouck

    Another issue, from my opinion, is there are no change logs available for the different TwinCAT versions or libraries. I experienced a lot of problems with the Tc3_JsonXml library, having features work in one version of TwinCAT, but not anymore in the next.

    I salute the TcOpen project greatly, but I think Beckhoff should really go along on the open source train much more.

  4. Ran

    These days I work in a firm (Just started two months ago) that uses the Beckhoff platform.
    Prevoiusly I had experience with Codesys so the language was not a problem.
    In the last firm where I worked was the first time I had to use Siemens… I hated every second of it, the IDE is terrible, the language compared to the codesys oop extension is so weak…
    Other programmers in that firm were using the B&R platform where you can program with c++, that looks really awesome, just having ANSI C++ as your plc programming language is just perfect.
    Maybe we should all switch to B&R…

  5. Stefan

    I fully agree with the points in the video.

    I only work with twincat occasionally, but a lot with C# and I was annoyed about the XML file structure too.
    More and more people are dealing with Python or Raspberry Pi as a hobby. Every major programming language is just text-based and can usually be controlled via CLI. Text-Based structured text definitely makes sense.

    Martin’s point in the comments is also correct, I think there are still people who like to work with FUP programming and ZIP files, and you can’t rule out these people either.

    It will therefore probably remain with a graphical editor for a long time.

    Should there be a future solution based entirely on Text-Based structured text, I could just write everything in Visual Studio Code or the IDE of my choice.

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