Mar 26, 2010
TIM Web Viewer allows simple browsers to display views
Since February 2010 the Technical Infrastructure Monitoring (TIM) tool suite, which is used to monitor and control CERN's technical infrastructure, has been complemented by another application: the TIM Web Viewer. A simple web browser window is now enough to display the TIM views, which were previously only accessible via dedicated interfaces. TIM views, a set of animated synoptic diagrams, help the CERN Control Centre (CCC) operators and the equipment specialists to visualize the state of the monitored technical services.
The TIM monitoring system was developed by the ASE group in the GS Department. The system collects real-time data from different industry-standard hardware and software components, such as Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs), Object Linking and Embedding (OLE) for Process Control (OPC) servers or CERN proprietary protocols. The core part of TIM is implemented with Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE) technology to create a highly reliable, scalable and flexible control solution. It has been in production since 2006 and currently processes more than 2 million non-redundant monitoring values per day. Several client applications were built on top of TIM for processing, visualizing and analysing these data.
The TIM Web Viewer is the latest addition to the TIM tools suite, which also includes the TIM Viewer and Tim Video Viewer (CNL issue 2, 2009). This new application is not the only one in charge of displaying TIM views: the primary TIM Viewer application, a desktop java application heavily used by CCC operators, also relies on these views to monitor and control various technical equipment and installations on the CERN site. As well as other functionalities, the TIM Viewer enables interaction with the monitored installations via control commands, which has forced the implementation of solid security constraints and its access is restricted to the Technical Network (TN). The aim of having a tool exclusively for monitoring purposes that does not require special authorization and that is accessible from the General Network (GN) led us to develop the TIM Web Viewer.
The TIM Web Viewer is a web application accessible from the GN, which means that users can monitor the different technical services from anywhere at CERN simply by connecting their devices (laptop, PDA, iPhone, etc) to the CERN network. In case of on-site interventions, the operators and equipment specialists can easily access the application through their PDAs. Because the TIM Web Viewer is a thin client application, it is a good choice for these and similar devices with limited performance capabilities and resources. Therefore, in the next months, personal safety systems will also start to make use of the TIM Web Viewer for on-site data display at the LHC access points.
Due to the variety of devices that might access the application and their different characteristics, the Tim Web Viewer offers the possibility to adapt and configure its user interface (UI). This configuration can be made via two methods: direct UI interaction or URL parameterization. The direct UI interaction can be performed by using the different buttons provided in the application toolbar and the tab at the bottom right corner of the view (figures 1 and 2). A more powerful customization is supported by additional parameters in the application's URL, for example changing the refresh rate, hiding/showing the toolbar or direct access to a specific view. By building up the application URL, users can decide which configuration best suits their needs to embed some TIM views in their own applications.
The TIM views are organized into categories and can be browsed via the TIM Web Viewer. The list of available views might vary depending on where the request comes from; two different access scopes have been defined: all requests from the TN and from some authorized clients have access to the full set of TIM views, whereas requests coming from the GN only have access to a subset. The reason for maintaining these two scopes is to control access to TIM views that might contain sensitive data.
Using the existing TIM infrastructure, the GS-ASE-SSE section was able to develop the TIM Web Viewer in a short time period. This was possible because the diagrams within TIM are based on IBM's iLog Visualization technology and consequently follow the Model-View-Controller architectural pattern. In this way, a web interface could be added to the application model by making use of some existing custom iLog modules. This means that we can display all developed TIM views in the browser without making any changes to them, and easily integrate the web interface with the back-end application.
TIM homepage: http://timweb
TIM Web Viewer: http://timweb/tim-web-viewer
TIM Web Viewer documentation: http://timweb/wiki/doku.php?id=documentation:tim-web-viewer
About the author
Marta Ruiz Garcia and Matthias Braeger, GS-ASE