Data-Model Driven UI

In mechanical engineering, the development of a user interface is influenced by many factors. These include the efficiency of the creation (i.e. the available budget), the know-how for the creation of a user interface (technology knowledge and skills), as well as the time from product request to delivery (time-to-market).

An operating terminal of a machine hovering in the room.

Data and model-driven UI in mechanical engineering

In today’s world, quality influences from the area of user expe- rience are becoming increasingly important. In addition to an “appealing look”, this also includes “intuitive operation”. These factors belong to the family of non-functional requirements of a system and essentially determine the quality of a product.
In software engineering, the quality of a system is decisively shaped by the choice of architecture – in short, the non-functional requirements are met by the architecture, while the functional requirements are met by the code.

The user interface of a machine system. Graphics that monitor the individual functions of a system based on parameters are visible.

Traditional Development

The interface in mechanical engineering is designed from visual modules during standard project planning (including layouting the interface, linking the variables of the programmable logic controller (PLC). These com­ ponents are input and output fields, scales, bar graphs, etc. that offer specific behaviour (e.g. accept variable limits, write behaviour when changing values, etc.). These modules are often already provided by the SCADA system used (System Control and Data Acquisition) and can be adapted within the limits of the SCADA system.

When constructing a picture (in mechanical engineering, a picture is a screen page with interaction elements for controlling the machines), these visual components are distributed according to different criteria and their interaction with each other is also determined.

A topological structure is often used here. This means that the positioning of the elements is based on the positioning of the actuator or sensor on the machine). However, it has been shown that this is often not nec­ essary. With very large machines, the overview and the context can be lost and the user interface therefore loses its intuitive operation.

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