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     Report Capture Service 
    The Report Capture Service is designed to capture Free Format Logs and other types of reports generated on Honeywell TDC3000 systems. The application emulates a serial printer, and stores the captured report files for viewing using a standard web browser.

    On Honeywell TDC3000 systems, reports or logs are often sent to a printer, and the hard copy then distributed to those requiring a copy.

    If an electronic/soft copy is required one possibility is to send the report to a virtual printer file on the History Module (HM), although the problem then becomes one of copying the report from the HM to the office PC network.

    As an alternative to these approaches, the Process IT Development Report Capture Service has been designed to capture and simplify the distribution or viewing of these reports.

    The application is a Windows NT service which runs on a Windows PC, and emulates a standard Generic/Text printer, using a standard RS232 serial port. The reports are captured and then stored locally on the PC in a hierarchical directory structure by year and month.

    At the same time, an XML-based index is built, which allows the reports to be browsed and displayed using a web browser. The use of an index file means that it is not necessary to run a web server on the PC capturing the reports, although it is of course possible to do so.

     Application Setup 
    As shown below, the application has been designed to capture reports and logs by emulating a Generic/Text printer attached to a Honeywell GUS operater station.

    It is envisaged that the Report Capture Service can be set up in two ways:

    1. On a PC connected to the office network. This allows the reports to be viewed easily over the office network.
    2. On another GUS on the same LCN console, or even on the same GUS that generates the report (using a second serial port). This allows the reports to be viewed on GUS operator stations, but does make it more difficult to distribute the reports on to the office network due to the firewall restrictions that are used at most installations.
    These two configurations are shown below. The RS232 cable shown is a standard null modem (crossover) cable.

     Setting up the Windows printer 
    The first step in setting up the application is to set up a Windows Generic/Text printer on the GUS. It is suggested that the printer can be set up using the Add Printer Wizard. The main things to note are:

    • The printer must be set up as a local printer
    • For the port, choose a serial port. This will usually be a standard communications port such as COM1, COM2, COM3 or COM4, although it is also possible to use a USB serial port.
      If the Report Capture Service is to be installed on the GUS itself using looped-back communication ports, it is also possible to use a virtual comms port pair. This means that it is not necessary to use the physical COM port.
    • For the manufacturer, choose Generic, and then Generic/Text for the printer model.
    • It is suggested that the baud rate be set to at least 9600 bits/sec. This is not critical, but slower baud rates should be avoided. The following settings work fine:
      • 19200 bits/sec
      • No parity
      • 8 data bits
      • 1 stop bit
      Make a note of the communication settings, as they will be required for setting up the Report Capture Service. For example, these settings would be expressed as "19200,n,8,1".

     GUS Configuration 
    Now that the Windows printer has been set up, it is a straightforward task to use the GUS Configuration Utility to set up the Windows printer for use by TDC3000 reports. The main points to note are:

    • The printer is set up for Batch mode
    • The paper type is set up as A4, Landscape. This allows the printer to accommodate full-width reports (up to 128 columns)

     Setting up the Report Capture Service 
    The Report Capture Service is installed using a Microsoft Installer package: Download

    By default the application is installed in the following directory:

    C:\Program Files\Process IT Report Capture Service

    The application uses an INI file named ReportCaptureService.INI. An example of this file is shown here:

    [Report Capture Service]
    DataFolder=C:\Program Files\Process IT Report Capture Service\Reports
    The parameters in the INI file are described below.

    If the application has been licensed, this entry will be a license key string. If the license key is missing or incorrect (or "DEMO" as in the sample) then the service will insert some text into the heading of each report. This text disappears once the application is licensed.

    In addition, demonstration versions time out after 12 hours. It is then necessary to restart the service from Administrative Tools/Services.

    This is the communications (COM) port to be used by the service. The sample INI file above was used in setting up the Report Capture Service on the same GUS PC that generated the reports. As can be seen from the GUS Configuration Utility screenshot above, this used the Generic/Text printer on COM1, while the Report Capture Service was configured to use COM2. The RS232 null modem cable was simply looped from COM1 to COM2.

    This parameter specifies the baudrate (bits/sec), parity, number of data bits, and number of stop bits. The settings given in the sample should work fine for most systems. It is fairly self-explanatory, the only point to note being the available parity settings:
      e Even
      o Odd
      n None

    As the reports are normally sent to a printer, there is no clear signal from the GUS to indicate the end of the report file. To work around this problem, the Report Capture Service implements an End of File Time Interval.

    This is time, in milliseconds, that the Report Capture Service can assume indicates the end of a report being sent from the GUS.

    The reason for detecting the end of the file is to be able to save each report in its own timestamped file.

    If each report consists of only one file (for example, a Free Format Log), then an EndOfFileTimeInterval of 6000 (6 seconds) or so should be adequate. If, however, the report consists of a number of reports, the the EndOfFileTimeInterval should be set higher, to 10000 (10 seconds), as is the case in the sample INI file shown above.

    This is the root directory for storing the reports. In this folder, the application will create a directory for each calendar year (2004, 2005, 2006 etc) for which reports are collected, and within those directories, it creates sub-directories for each month (Jan, Feb ... Dec).

    This directory can be given as either an absolute or as a relative path, but if you are running the service under the default Local System account it MUST be on the local machine. It cannot be a directory on another machine on the network, as the Local System account does not have access rights on other machines.

    MinimumLineLength, MaximumLineLength
    These parameters specify the minimum and maximum line length that are used to indicate a valid line of text from the printer port. It is recommended that the defaults are used.

    This parameter specifies whether the service is visible on the desktop. If this is set to True, Yes or 1 then the service shows a simple form with the text of the captured report.

    Note that this option is dependent on the Allow service to interact with desktop checkbox being Enabled - see below.

     GUS Installation 
    If you are planning to install the Report Capture Service on a GUS, then it is highly recommended that you disable the service's interaction with the desktop. Some sites implement a very restrictive security policy on the Operator account, such as giving the operator very limited access to the C: drive.

    If a service is allowed to interact with the desktop, it assumes the security restrictions of the currently logged-in user. If this happens to be the operator, it means that the service may then be restricted from writing to the C: drive.

    To disable the interaction with the desktop, go to the Log On tab on the service's Properties, as shown below, and uncheck the Allow service to interact with desktop check box:

    This tab can also be used to change the user account that the service uses.

    A trial version of the Report Capture Service is available: Download

     Revision History 
    24 Jan 2005 Fixed a minor problem with HTML/XML formatting