IEC 61131-3: SOLID – Five principles for better software

In addition to the syntax of a programming language and the understanding of the most important libraries and frameworks, other methodologies – such as design patterns – belong to the fundamentals of software development. Aside from a design pattern, design principles are also a helpful tool in the development of software. SOLID is an acronym for five such design principles, which help developers to design software more understandable, more flexible and more maintainable.

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IEC 61131-3: Different versions of the same library in a TwinCAT project

Library placeholders allow to reference multiple versions of the same library in a PLC project. This situation can be helpful if a library has to be updated in an existing project due to new functions, but the update turns out to give an older FB a changed behavior.

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IEC 61131-3: Abstract FB vs. Interface

Function blocks, methods and properties can be marked as abstract since TwinCAT V3.1 build 4024. Abstract FBs can only be used as basic FBs for inheritance. Direct instantiation of abstract FBs is not possible. Therefore, abstract FBs have a certain similarity to interfaces. Now, the question is in which case an interface and in which case an abstract FB should be used.

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IEC 61131-3: Exception Handling with __TRY/__CATCH

When executing a program, there is always the possibility of an unexpected runtime error occurring. These occur when a program tries to perform an illegal operation. This kind of scenario can be triggered by events such as division by 0 or a pointer which tries to reference an invalid memory address. We can significantly improve the way these exceptions are handled by using the keywords __TRY and __CATCH.

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IEC 61131-3: Parameter transfer via FB_init

Depending on the task, it may be necessary for function blocks to require parameters that are only used once for initialization tasks. One possible way to pass them elegantly is to use the FB_init() method.

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IEC 61131-3: The Decorator Pattern

With the help of the decorator pattern, new function blocks can be developed on the basis of existing function blocks without overstraining the principle of inheritance. In the following post, I will introduce the use of this pattern using a simple example.

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IEC 61131-3: The generic data type T_Arg

In the article The wonders of ANY, Jakob Sagatowski shows how the data type ANY can be effectively used. In the example described, a function compares two variables to determine whether the data type, data length and content are exactly the same. Instead of implementing a separate function for each data type, the same requirements can be implemented much more elegantly with only one function using data type ANY.

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IEC 61131-3: The Observer Pattern

The Observer Pattern is suitable for applications that require one or more function blocks to be notified when the state of a particular function block changes. The assignment of the communication participants can be changed at runtime of the program.

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IEC 61131-3: Unit-Tests

Unit tests are an essential tool for every programmer to ensure functioning of his software. Software bugs cost time and money, so you need an automated solution to find these bugs and preferably before the software is used. Unit tests should be used wherever software is professionally developed. This article is intended to provide a quick introduction and allow an understanding of the benefits of unit tests.

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