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Version: 8.1

Item Types

Items are the backbone of a Transaction Group. They represent a link between a source value (derived from either an OPC value or an expression) and a cell in a database table. Items generally aren't executed in a reliable order, with the exception of Expression items. Expression items can be ordered using the up and down arrows located to the right of the list where the items are displayed. This can be crucial for performing complex operations that require a specific sequence. Below is a listing of each type of item.

Item TypeDescription
OPC ItemDirectly subscribed to an OPC server at the rate of the group. These items effectively ignore the gateway's Tag system, bypassing Tag groups and Tag providers altogether.
Expression ItemMuch like an expression Tag, expression items are flexible in that their value can come from a number of different sources: specifically an expression or a database query.
Expression items have two subtypes:
  • Run-Always expression items are evaluated every time the group executes. Meaning, they'll run their associated expression of query every time the group executes.
  • Triggered expression items only evaluate when the group trigger is active.
Tag Reference ItemA reference to a Tag in a Tag provider. Allows a Tag to be used in a group like any other item type, except that the Tag is evaluated by its scan class instead of by the group. For more information, see the Tag References vs. OPC Items section.
Tag Reference Items can reference the value on any Tag in a Tag provider, such as query Tags and memory Tags.

Tag References and OPC Items

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Tag References vs. OPC Items

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It is easy to confuse the definition and purpose of Tag reference items and direct OPC items in Transaction Groups.

Tags may be referenced inside of Transaction Groups through a Tag Reference Item. Since the source of the Tag reference item exists outside of the Transaction Group, they have their own rules and configurations that determine when their value changes. Thus Tag reference items can have their value update according to their own execution (commonly, a Tag Group). Adding a Tag into a group is like creating a shortcut to that Tag. However, once in the group, the item can be used like any other item. Tag references are useful when it is necessary to have a single value in multiple groups, for example, as a trigger in order to coordinate execution.

OPC Items in groups (as well as expression items in groups), however, are completely executed by the group. They do not exist outside of the group in which they are defined. They are subscribed and evaluated according to the rate of the group.

Refer to the Item Type Property Table at the bottom of this page to see the properties for both Tag and OPC items.

Expression Items

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Expression Items

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Expression Items are items not driven by a PLC. Instead they allow you to configure a static value, or use some other means to automatically set a value, such as a query. They are useful for executing comparisons, simple math, and looking up values from other database tables.

Much like OPC Items, Expression Items can have alarms configured, as well as numeric scaling applied directly to the item.

Scope

It is important to understand that an Expression Item only exists within its group, and can not be referenced by items in other Transaction Groups, Tags, and any components on a window.

Execution Order

All Expression items will evaluate in order from top to bottom. This means referencing an Expression Item above will pull the new value, but referencing an Expression Item below will give you the value from the last group execution.

Expression Type

How an Expression Item determines its value depends heavily on its type.

Expression Type

Expression TypeDefinition
NoneBehaves similar to a Memory Tag in that the value does not automatically change.
ExpressionUses Ignition's Expression Language to determine the value on the Item. The expression can reference other items in the group, as well as Tags.
SQL QueryUtilizes a SQL query to determine the item's value. Thus, a query can execute on the item and the results can be referenced by other items in the same group.
Named QuerySelecting this option will cause the value on the item to be determined by a Named Query in the same project as the Transaction Group.

Refer to the Property Table at the bottom of this page to see the Expression Item Options.

Run Always vs. Triggered Items

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Run Always vs. Triggered Items

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Expression Item can be configured in two different evaluation states:

  • Triggered: The Expression Item executes only when the Transaction Group is triggered. However if the group is not configured to execute on a trigger, then the item will evaluate every time the group executes (similar to how the Run-Always state works). This is the default evaluation state new Expression Items use.
  • Run-Always: The Expression Items will run before the group trigger is checked, so it always executes at the group's rate. This allows your expression to always evaluate regardless of the trigger in the group. Additionally, this state allows you to use the Expression Item as the trigger for the group. We advise that you never have a Target for a Run-Always Expression item because it always runs.

Run Always vs Triggered Items

Hour and Event Meter

Be aware that a Gateway or Transaction Group restart will reset the Source and Latched values of an Expression Item that uses Hour or Event meter modes. Any edits to the Expression Item, such as adjusting the execution schedule, will also reset these values.

Changing the Evaluation State

Toggling between the two modes can be accomplished by dragging and dropping the Expression Item to either the Run-Always Expression Items table or the Triggered Expression Items table. Alternatively, the evaluation state can be changed by editing the Expression Item and toggling the Run-always (ignore trigger) checkbox.

Changing the Evaluation State

SQL Queries and Expressions

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SQL Query Expression Items

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Expression items can use SQL statements and Ignition's Expression language to automatically determine the value of an Expression Item. This is useful in scenarios where you want to use a value from the database as the trigger for the Transaction Group, or aggregate several other items in the group into a single value.

Expressions and queries on an Expression Item can reference the value of other items in the group or Tags in the system by clicking on the Tag (Tag Icon) icon.

There are several Expression functions available that exist only for Transaction Groups. You can find them in the Store and Forward and Variables sections of the f(x) function list.

SQL Queries and Expressions

Creating a New Item

Below is an example of creating a new item. The steps can be applied to any item type.

  1. In the Designer, go to Project Browser, and click on Transaction Groups. The workspace now changes to the Transaction Group workspace.

  2. Right-click on Transaction Group to create a New Transaction Group, or click on a group you have previously created. You will now see the workspace changes to look like:

    Creating a New Item Step 2

  3. Right-click in the white area, and choose New Item > New OPC Item. The options in the popups represent the different item types. Refer to the Item Type Property Table on this page for more information on the various item types and their properties.

    Creating a New Item Step 3

  4. Once you configured the item, click OK.

Item Type Property Table

The following tables describes the OPC, Tag and Expression Item properties.

OPC Item Options

General

PropertyDescription
NameThe name of the OPC item in the group. There cannot be duplicate names within a group.
Data TypeThe data type used to read values from the PLC.

OPC Properties

PropertyDescription
OPC ServerThe Selected OPC Server. This is a dropdown list showing all the OPC Servers added in the Ignition Gateway.
OPC Item PathThe OPC address assigned by the server. Dragging and dropping from the OPC Browser will automatically populate this field.
New in 8.1.5
As of 8.1.5 it's possible to escape curly braces {} in the item path by using additional curly braces. For example: {{device_name}} would evaluate to {<device_name param value>}.
Source Data TypeData type for the OPC item.

Value Mode

PropertyDescription
PropertyWhich property of the OPC item you want to use.
  • Value - Item value
  • Quality - Quality code from OPC Server (192 = GOOD_DATA)
  • Timestamp - The last time the Item value changed.
  • Name - The SQLBridge Item Name property of this Item.
Note: UDT Instances used in Transaction groups only support String datatypes. Other datatypes could cause Transaction Groups groups running in previous versions of Ignition to fault.
ModeOptions for displaying values based on the Item value.
  • Direct Value - Item value.
  • Hour Meter - Record the amount of time the Item value is non-zero. This accumulation will reset to zero when the Item value goes to zero. The data type should be set to integer or float when using an Hour Meter regardless of the OPC Item type.
    • On Zero - Use a zero value to accumulate time instead of a non-zero value.
    • Retentive - Retain the Hour Meter value when it is not accumulating.
    • Units - The time units to display.
  • Event Meter - Record the number or times the Item Value is non-zero. The data type should be set to integer when using an Event Meter regardless of the OPC Item type.
    • On Zero - Use a zero value to accumulate events instead of a non-zero value.

Write Target

PropertyDescription
ModeChanges the items directional read/write option.
  • Use group's mode - Inherit the Update Mode from the Item's Group.
  • OPC to DB - Only read from the OPC server and write to the database.
  • DB to OPC - Only read from the database and write to the OPC Server.
  • Bi-directional OPC wins - Read and Write to both the database and OPC Server. On group start, write database values to the OPC Server.
  • Bi-directional DB wins - Read and Write to both the database and OPC Server. On group start, write database values to the OPC Server.
Target TypeThis is the selection for what the Item will write to when the group executes.
  • None, read-only item - Do not write this value to the database.
  • Database field - Write the Item value to the specified column in the database table. This list will populate with all the column names from the Group's target table after the first time the group is run.
Target NameThe name of the column in the database that this Item will write to when the group executes. The Target Name list will populate with all the column names from the Group's target table if the Target Type is Database field.
AlarmingThe Alarming settings for the OPC items. See Alarming Properties for a full explanation.

Tag Reference Item Options

General

PropertyDescription
NameThe name of the OPC item in the group. There cannot be duplicate names within a group.
Tag PathThe path to the tag being referenced. This value is not editable except by clicking the Insert Tag button. There cannot be duplicate names within a group.
Data TypeThe data type to write to into the database if this item is not read-only.

Value Mode

PropertyDescription
PropertyWhich property of the Tag you want to use.
  • Value - Item value.
  • Quality - Quality code of the Tag (192 = GOOD_DATA)
  • Timestamp - The last time the item value changed.
  • Name - The SQLBridge Item Name property of this Item.
ModeOptions for displaying values based on the Item value.
  • Value - Item value
  • Hour Meter - Record the amount of time the Item value is non-zero. This accumulation will reset to zero when the item value goes to zero. The data type should be set to integer or float when using an Hour Meter, regardless of the OPC Item type.
    • On Zero - Use a zero value to accumulate time instead of a non-zero value.
    • Retentive - Retain the Hour Meter value when it is not accumulating.
    • Units - The time units to display.
  • Event Meter - Record the number or times the Item value is non-zero. The data type should be set to integer when using an Event Meter regardless of the OPC Item type.
    • On Zero - Use a zero value to accumulate events instead of a non-zero value.

Write Target

PropertyDescription
ModeChanges the items directional read/write option. This is only editable when the target Type is set to Database field.
  • Use group's mode - Inherit the Update Mode from the Item's Group.
  • OPC to DB - Only read from the OPC server and write to the database.
  • DB to OPC - Only read from the database and write to the OPC Server.
  • Bi-directional OPC wins - Read and Write to both the database and OPC Server. On group start, write database values to the OPC Server.
  • Bi-directional DB wins - Read and Write to both the database and OPC Server. On group start, write database values to the database.
Target TypeThis is the selection for what the Item will write to when the group executes.
  • None, read-only item - Do not write this value to the database.
  • Database field - Write the Item value to the specified column in the database table.
Target NameThe name of the column in the database that this Item will write to when the group executes. The Target Name list will populate with all the column names from the Group's target table if the Target Type is Database field.

Expression Item Options

General

PropertyDescription
NameThe name of the OPC item in the group. There cannot be duplicate names within a group.
ValueThe static value of this Expression item. This will be overwritten by an Expression/SQL binding.
Data TypeThe data type values are stored as.

Value Mode

PropertyDescription
PropertyWhich property of the Tag you want to use.
  • Value - Item value.
  • Quality - Quality code of the expression/SQL Query (192 = GOOD_DATA)
  • Timestamp - The last time the item value changed.
  • Name - The SQLBridge Item Name property of this Item.
ModeOptions for displaying values based on the Item value.
  • Direct Value - Item value.
  • Hour Meter - Record the amount of time the Item value is non-zero. This accumulation will reset to zero when the item value goes to zero. The data type should be set to integer or float when using an Hour Meter, regardless of the OPC Item type.
    • On Zero - Use a zero value to accumulate time instead of a non-zero value.
    • Retentive - Retain the Hour Meter value when it is not accumulating.
    • Units - The time units to display.
  • Event Meter - Record the number or times the Item value is non-zero. The data type should be set to integer when using an Event Meter regardless of the OPC Item type.
    • On Zero - Use a zero value to accumulate events instead of a non-zero value.
Evaluation ModeRun-always (ignore Trigger) - When selected, this causes the group to evaluate at each group interval, before the trigger state is evaluated.
Write TargetTarget type - This is the selection for what the Item will write to when the group executes.
  • None, read-only item - Do not write this value to the database.
  • Database field - Write the Item value to the specified column in the database table.
  • Other Tag - Write the Expression Item's value back to an OPC item or Tag Reference.
Target NameThe name of the column in the database that this Item will write to when the group executes. The Target Name list will populate with all the OPC Item and Tag Reference names from this Group, or the column names from the Group's target table depending on the Target Type selected.
NumericThese are the Numeric properties for Expression Items. For a full description, see Tag Scaling Properties.
AlarmingThese are the Alarming settings for the OPC items. See Alarming Properties for a full explanation.
ExpressionThese are the Expression/SQL Query options for Expression Items. See Expression/SQL Properties for a full explanation.