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Creating self-explanatory device testing and configuration tools

Docklight V2.3 adds project doc support

UPDATE 2020/01 - standard V2.3 release out now.

Here are the download links for our V2.3 release versions :

Download Docklight V2.3 Release Version
Download Docklight Scripting V2.3 Release Version

New  features include:
  • Sequence and project documentation area
  • RTF logging
  • new Scripting commands for creating custom tools: DL.SetUserOutput / DL.SetWindowLayout / DL.GetKeyState

Docklight makes device testing easier for your clients

Quickly building small demo applications for clients is a task where Docklight really shines. It is a major reason for Docklight’s popularity among equipment manufacturers or integrators using RS232/RS485/TCP/UDP/HID-based communication interfaces.
With Docklight or Docklight Scripting you can swiftly create an example project that shows typical protocol commands and the device responses in action. So along with the device manual and application protocol description, the customer gets a hands-on example and can easily confirm that basic settings are correct and the device is responding as described in the manual.

Still, after years of working with Docklight ourselves, we felt there is a serious shortcoming: Many times we were sweating over additional explanations about which “Send à” button would do what exactly, or what parameters / preconditions are required. Sometimes we tried to cram this into the Docklight project by giving our Send Sequences very elaborate names like “Write Single Register, Slave=1, Adr=257, Value=7”. But let’s face it – this is not a great way to do it.

Context-sensitive help is always best

So here is what our V2.3 versions can do – every command to transmit (“Send Sequence”) and every piece of expected answer (“Receive Sequences”) can have its own short description field. This effectively replaces what was the detached Notepad window in V2.2, but Docklight remains backward and forward compatible with your existing project files. A simple “Add your documentation here” box allows you to write your comments as you create and test your project, no switching back and forth, and always in context of what is happening on the screen. 

You can type your comments while testing, or even paste formatted text from a Word document or a web site.

(Note, by the way, how a small lock symbol prevents additional editing of these descriptions, similar to the sequence lists lock.)

Simple indicators

Our users also commented on a related scenario, where Docklight Scripting is used for production or testing routines and the production staff runs a predefined script, which prints out measurement results or “good/bad” status after completion. When these results are the only relevant piece of information, it is useful to make them stand out and separate them from the regular Docklight communications output. With the newly introduced DL.SetUserOutput command you can create a separate output area for your important status messages as large, bold and colorful as needed. Here is a lighthearted example for this: 

Less distraction

You might also want to hide the Send/Receive Sequence definitions in such applications altogether, and this is also possible now using a new command, DL.SetWindowLayout

Keyboard control

(or,  "press ‘1’ for testing device X. press ‘2’ for testing device Y...") 
Again, it’s about simplicity - using the new DL.GetKeyState function you can create a Docklight script that allows production staff to pick from several predefined testing routines with a simple key-press. The syntax and usage is compatible with the Windows GetKeyState function. 

Download and try it

UPDATE 2020/01 - The above improvements and related examples are now available as standard release: 
Download Docklight V2.3 Release Version
Download Docklight Scripting V2.3 Release Version

Of course we are extremely happy about any comments or opinions on the new V2.3 versions. We'd be  especially grateful to hear about anything that looks like a bug to you, or feels wrong and should be changed. Your options have been driving many improvements in the 17 years of Docklight history, and we will keep sharpening our tools continuously. 

For our complete software and hardware portfolio, see our Docklight Product Overview.
Marco Flachmann and Oliver Heggelbacher
- The Docklight Developers -