Object-oriented programming (OOP) is a proven way of keeping the complexity of software systems in check. Until recently the preserve of languages such as C++, Java and C#, IEC 61131-3 introduces the concept to PLC programming.
A command can be run on a function block by calling a method. Function block A calls a method of function block B. So far, so good, but how can such “commands” be exchanged flexibly between several function blocks. The command pattern provides an interesting approach.
The third edition of IEC 61131-3 introduces the concept of namespaces. Namespaces group elements such as variables, function blocks, data types and libraries into coherent units. This means that elements are no longer identified solely using their names, but additionally using the associated namespace.
While declaring arrays, one had always to define a constant value up to now. Since the 3rd edition of the IEC 61131-3, arrays can be declared with a variable length. Thus, you can create functions much more generically than previously.
The wish to raise the quality of a software is hardly much older than the software development itself. At the beginning, a set of rules should be determined which define software development guidelines, especially in major projects with multiple developers. Fortunately, PLCopen published recently a draft specifically for IEC 61131-3.
If instances of a function block have to be created, the exact type of the function block should be known before compiling. Properties of an application can hardly be expanded by this fixed assignment. For example, this will be the case when the function block is located in a library and the access to the source code is thus not possible. The instance variable is constrained by a specific type. A class factory can help to break these stiff structures.
While the notion of inheritance is used readily and frequently, interfaces are rather rarely applied. However, interfaces provide a number of benefits, which increase flexibility of the PLC programs and improve maintenance. The following post will introduce the possibilities of interfaces relating to the IEC 61131-3 standard.