There is a place for closed, proprietary manufacturing software. But standards and open source have proven to be a perfect way to solve additional integration and development problems for integrators and end users. And maybe add some excitement, enthusiasm and innovation, as well.

This post began from a ping on Twitter. Then an email conversation. Then some exploration.

I have followed Andy Robinson (aka @Archestranaut) for several years. As Eliot Landrum explained to me, “He started a project a little bit ago and we are picking up with a renewed interest. Our website can be found here, plus we also have the Twitter account and, most importantly, a GitHub repository.”

The main objective is to build an open, public community among (Schneider Electric/Wonderware) ArchestrA developers. Adds Landrum, “I personally have desired a public, technical conversation among our industry but haven’t found it. So, I decided to make it happen. Other programming communities have gained so much from public, open discussion and code sharing and I want some of that for us! I really think that we can build on each other’s successes and create a friendly community of knowledgeable developers.”

The Website will include tricks, techniques, and tutorials for improved manufacturing software implementation. In the GitHub repository, programmers will share real code! These will be anywhere from simple scripts to full-blown tools. “Anyone is welcome to submit code for inclusion, and Andy and I will be reviewing and monitoring the code,” concludes Landrum.

From the Website

So, what’s this all about anyway? Personally, I think it’s about helping to open up an industry that has been tight-fisted and scared to share anything of value. The automation / system integration industry has traditionally been very secretive about the tools we use and develop in-house. As we’ve seen from the Open Source movement’s success over the past 20 years, this “scared to share” route is a lousy path to take. The advantages of knowledge and code sharing across an industry are well understood and easily observed in industries such as web and mobile app development. Those industries have seen tremendous technical growth and advancement because developers across the industry are sharing knowledge and skills. They have been able to build on each other’s successes to create better tools, resources, and platforms.

The manufacturing / automation / system integration industry, on the other hand? We’re scared of sharing anything for risk of our competitors seeing what we do. In reality, we could be growing a stronger skill base by talking with others and comparing notes.

aaOpenSource is a way for us to start talking, start sharing, and create community. aaOpenSource is focused on tools, knowledge, and tricks for the Wonderware System Platform (ArchestrA). Check out our GitHub project, poke around, and jump on in. Our hope is that aaOpenSource becomes a little hub of like-minded ArchestrA developers who want to create better things for our customers and make our work lives a little better.

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