We’re finally at the last post of this series! Patiently we’ve written all our tests and done all our code that implements the required functionality and made sure that our code passes all the tests. But in the end of the day, despite all the theory and coding we want our code to run on a real physical device. Now it’s time for the favorite part of every PLC programmer, which is getting down to the hardware and micro controllers! Let’s get to the grand finale, and test our code on a real PLC, IO-Link master and IO-Link slave.
In part five of these series we started the implementation of the function blocks that we previously have done unit tests for. As we have our tests, we could verify that our newly implemented code did what it is supposed to do, and thus we made our code pass the tests. What we’ve got left is to do the implementation for three of the remaining function blocks. Once this is done, we have implemented all the required functionality that we’ve declared that our unit tests require us to.
In the last post of the series of unit testing in TwinCAT we finalized our unit tests, thus creating the acceptance criteria for the expected functionality for our function blocks. Now it’s time to do the actual implementation of the function blocks that we described in part 2 of these series. As we have our unit tests finished, we can anytime during our development run them and check whether the implemented code passes the tests.
In the previous post we defined the general layout of our unit tests, and also did the implementation of the tests for two of the five function block that we’re going to use to verify the functionality of parsing IO-Link events. What we’ve got left is to create test cases for the parsing of the text identity and the timestamp of the diagnostic event. Then we also want to have a few tests that closes the loop and verifies the parsing of a complete diagnosis history message.
In the last post of this series we were looking at a use case for a certain set of functionality, more specifically creating parser function blocks for the handling of IO-Link events. The result was a series of function blocks with defined input and output. In this post we’ll create the unit tests that will use the function blocks that we’ve started doing. Naturally, when defining the tests they will all fail as we don’t have the implementation code ready yet.
In my previous post I explained some of the benefits of using test driven development (TDD) while developing PLC software. This post is the second part of a series of seven, where we will look at a real use case scenario of writing test cases prior to doing the actual implementation. The scenario which I thought would be good for this is by creating a parser for IO-Link events. Shortly, IO-Link is a standardized point-to-point serial communication protocol used to communicate with sensors and/or actuators. It is not a fieldbus, but only takes care of the communication to the end device. As it’s a fully digital protocol that on top of process data also supports services such as events and parameterization, it’s standing well prepared for the Industry 4.0 thinking. One of the functionalities of IO-Link devices is that they can fire off events to the IO-Link master to notify that something has happened, for instance an alarm that something is wrong. To integrate these IO-link devices (slaves) into your EtherCAT network you need an IO-Link master, which usually allows you to connect 4 or 8 IO-Link slaves.
One problem I face quite often is that I need to have some code executed only once in the first cycle of the PLC, and then never again. Up until now I’ve always used a boolean of some sort; “bFirstCycleExecuted”, instantiated to false and then set to true after the first cycle resulting in something like:
PROGRAM MAIN VAR bFirstCycleExecuted : BOOL := FALSE; END_VAR IF NOT bFirstCycleExecuted THEN // The code that you want to be executed at the first cycle bFirstCycleExecuted := TRUE; END_IF
There actually is a built-in way in TwinCAT to know whether the current cycle is the first one or not, using the global data type PlcTaskSystemInfo. Among other parameters in this data type is the boolean FirstCycle. In your program you have access to an array of the data type PlcTaskSystemInfo, accessing it by _TaskInfo[index_of_current_task]. The index of current task can be retrieved by using the function block GETCURTASKINDEX. Replacing the above piece of code with our new knowledge results in:
PROGRAM MAIN VAR fbGetCurTaskIndex : GETCURTASKINDEX; END_VAR fbGetCurTaskIndex(); IF _TaskInfo[fbGetCurTaskIndex.index].FirstCycle THEN // The code that you want to be executed at the first cycle END_IF
Test driven development (TDD) doesn’t seem to be all too common among TwinCAT-developers, which is a shame. From my experience, TDD has a strong foothold everywhere among developers, but TwinCAT? Not so much. And I don’t blame them. There are TDD frameworks for C++, C#, Ada, Python and basically any other language and/or development environment. Do a Google search on the web on any programming language/IDE and TDD and you get thousands of results. Do the same for TwinCAT and you’re on your own.
Together with TwinCAT release 4022.0 Beckhoff released their product “TE1200 – TC3 PLC Static Analysis“. It’s a tool integrated in the development environment to help the developer increase the quality of the code. Other than being able to set your own naming conventions for the code, TE1200 can be used for various rule checks, for example:
- non-assigned return values
- usage of object-oriented features
- unreachable code
This post has really not too much to do with TwinCAT, at least not directly. Instead, this post will be about a computer that’s close to my heart. So, despite not being directly related to TwinCAT, it’s about the computer which started my interest in software engineering, and ultimately led me to where I am today, therefore this post. The Commodore 64 was my first computer. The first version was released the same year I was born. Rewind the time back to the mid 80s, and this was the computer that everyone had back in those days. It was a fantastic machine back then. 1MHz clock frequency, amazing video-graphics, a whopping 64K of user RAM (hence the name) and fantastic sound (provided by the SID-chip). Despite the limited performance when judged by today standards, people were doing amazing stuff with it. The game and demo-scene was flourishing.