By Perry Green, Principal Engineer
As the Annual ODVA Industry Conference approaches, I’m preparing presentations for the EtherNet/IP Implementors Workshop which will be held in conjunction with the conference. During my presentation work, I was struck by a question that never seems to be well answered: What is the Implementors Workshop and who should attend the meetings? The meeting announcements on ODVA’s website don’t adequately explain the purpose of the Workshop. This always seems to lead to several attendees at every meeting finding out the hard way, often amid some disappointment, what the Workshop really is.
What the Workshop Is Not:
The Workshop is not an introduction to EtherNet/IP. If you want an introduction to CIP and EtherNet/IP, attend one of ODVA’s Quick Start seminars. The Workshop is not developer training. If you want to know how to implement EtherNet/IP in your device and understand CIP objects and protocols, talk to your favorite EtherNet/IP stack vendor about developer training. Pyramid Solutions has been providing developer training on EtherNet/IP since the protocol was made public.
What the Workshop Is:
The Workshop is a group of vendors working together to improve the interoperability and user experience of EtherNet/IP-enabled devices. The Workshop was started in the early days of the protocol by a group of vendors and customers that had seen issues with interoperability. EtherNet/IP is a communications protocol with a lot of features, and devices could be developed that were conformant to the specification, but may not necessarily interoperate well with other devices. One of the Workshop’s first products was a white paper on the Recommended Functionality for EtherNet/IP Devices. This paper became the basis for the ODVA interoperability testing (and a subject for a future blog).
Besides maintaining the Recommendations and running the PlugFest testing, over the years the Workshop has also tackled subjects, such as:
- Best IP Addressing practices
- Address conflict detection
- Device Diagnostics
- Network Diagnostics
Many of the subjects worked on by the Workshop produce specification enhancements that move into the ODVA (Special Interest Groups) SIGs. Workshop meetings are typically a mixture of groups working on the active topics and introductory or informational presentations on upcoming or related technology.
Who Should Attend a Workshop Meeting?
Workshop attendance is open to anyone involved in the CIP / EtherNet/IP community. The group is a mixture of individuals ranging from development engineers and project managers to product managers. Experience ranges from engineers starting their first CIP development to industry experts. It is suggested that you have some background in the protocol before attending, but only because we may lose you in some of the discussions. However, we’re a friendly bunch and welcome people yearning to learn about the network. If you get lost, there’s probably an industry expert sitting next to you that’s willing to give you a break time mini-tutorial. I would recommend attending the Workshop to any CIP / EtherNet/IP developer.