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TPDesign4 Capabilities Question

My boss has given me a task related to an AMX controller panel in the conference rooms at our office building. He's told me he doesn't even know if it's possible, but it was his idea of a "fun" project for me to try.

A few years ago we contracted an AMX installation company to install, program, and design 3 touch panel controllers in our conference rooms for A/V related control. I've attached a picture of the basic design of the interface.

Apparently support from the AMX installation company has been really bad and my boss no longer has interest in dealing with them. So he's asked me to, basically, backwards engineer the software on the panel. The software I've been given to accomplish this task is called "TPDesign4"

So basically my main questions are.

1. Is it even possible for me to do this?
2. If so, can I do it with TPDesign4 alone?

Comments

  • jimmywjimmyw Junior Member Posts: 112
    I thought this was a dealer only forum? You shouldn't even have the software. If you aregoing to poke around with things that should not be poked, please use google.com first.
  • JackieDelunaJackieDeluna Junior Member Posts: 6
    jimmyw wrote: »
    I thought this was a dealer only forum? You shouldn't even have the software. If you aregoing to poke around with things that should not be poked, please use google.com first.

    Believe me, I've been to Google. I don't know anything about that, my superiors were the ones who gave me the software. No idea where they got it.
  • HedbergHedberg Junior Member Posts: 671
    No, this forum is not restricted to dealers. Any knob who buys an Axcent2 and CLI touchpanel on Ebay can participate and every so often he does. Also, AMX doesn't seem to be very aggressive in enforcing the licensing of its software and frequently provides it to end users. Almost always, in my experience, the end user fails to get very far as the time and effort necessary to actually accomplish anything useful are daunting.

    As to the poster's question:
    It depends. First, that's one butt-ugly touch panel and it's probable that the device it's on is an old one. If it's an old panel, TPD4 may not work on it.

    Then, there's the problem of how the system was programmed in the first place. It may be that the user interface is mostly handled by the TP and not the master, in which case you may be able to redo the pages and get the result you want. You won't be able to add any functionality because that would require reprogramming the master and all you have the ability to do is the panel. You will be able to move buttons from page to page and the like, but you won't be able to make a button do something different from what it already does. The button functionality is controlled by the button channel (button number) assigned to a button and the code on the master that executes the functions.

    It's relatively simple, though not trivial, to make simple pages and move buttons around and control page flips etc. on a touch panel. From the looks of the page you posted, it's not likely to be very complex as it's either very old or was programmed by a lazy or incompetent programmer. So, you may be able to reprogram the flow a little, but actual functionality? Very unlikely.
  • JackieDelunaJackieDeluna Junior Member Posts: 6
    Hedberg wrote: »
    No, this forum is not restricted to dealers. Any knob who buys an Axcent2 and CLI touchpanel on Ebay can participate and every so often he does. Also, AMX doesn't seem to be very aggressive in enforcing the licensing of its software and frequently provides it to end users. Almost always, in my experience, the end user fails to get very far as the time and effort necessary to actually accomplish anything useful are daunting.

    As to the poster's question:
    It depends. First, that's one butt-ugly touch panel and it's probable that the device it's on is an old one. If it's an old panel, TPD4 may not work on it.

    Then, there's the problem of how the system was programmed in the first place. It may be that the user interface is mostly handled by the TP and not the master, in which case you may be able to redo the pages and get the result you want. You won't be able to add any functionality because that would require reprogramming the master and all you have the ability to do is the panel. You will be able to move buttons from page to page and the like, but you won't be able to make a button do something different from what it already does. The button functionality is controlled by the button channel (button number) assigned to a button and the code on the master that executes the functions.

    It's relatively simple, though not trivial, to make simple pages and move buttons around and control page flips etc. on a touch panel. From the looks of the page you posted, it's not likely to be very complex as it's either very old or was programmed by a lazy or incompetent programmer. So, you may be able to reprogram the flow a little, but actual functionality? Very unlikely.

    Thanks so much! That answer was very informative. The main problem is that I don't have access to the original files. I'm trying to do this based on nothing. When I go to create a new project, TPDesign4 does list the panel we are using, so I assume it's compatible. It's an NXT-CV7. If I use TPDesign4 to make a similar interface, would I be able to put my interface as replacement, and most importantly, would it function? I don't need to add any new functionality.
  • HedbergHedberg Junior Member Posts: 671
    Yes, that would be a Modero (G4) panel and the file would be editable with TPD4.

    What you have to do to get the file from the panel is explained in the documentation for the panel which is available for download from the AMX site. In TPD4 you "transfer" and "receive from panel" the file which is stored on the touch panel. In order to do this you have to be on the same network as the TP and the master and you have to know the IP address of the master on that network. This may be simple, it may be hard. Depends on the network infrastructure that the master and TP are connected to. All is revealed in the documentation.

    Once you have the file loaded into TP4, you can edit it to your heart's content and then transfer it back. Before you do anything, save the panel file that you downloaded from the TP so that when you screw it up you can go back to the original. Double check and make sure that you have it saved before you do anything else and make sure that you are not editing your saved copy by mistake. Don't ask why I give that advice.

    Read the documentation on the touch panel and how it works. Learn how to preview the touchpanel flow. Make sure that you preserve the channel ports and channel codes for the buttons because if you don't, the functionality goes away.

    Once you have edited a TP or two, it will seem easy. But, TPD4 is a complex software product with a lot of nooks and crannies and the designers of the software expect that the user will be familiar with a lot of AMX concepts and terminology. There is a steep learning curve.
  • viningvining X Member Posts: 4,358
    Thanks so much! That answer was very informative. The main problem is that I don't have access to the original files. I'm trying to do this based on nothing. When I go to create a new project, TPDesign4 does list the panel we are using, so I assume it's compatible. It's an NXT-CV7. If I use TPDesign4 to make a similar interface, would I be able to put my interface as replacement, and most importantly, would it function? I don't need to add any new functionality.

    It shouldn't be a problem to change all the graphics if you ensure page names remain the same and button port/channel and other properties remain the same.

    You can extract the existing TP, save for a back up and then create a copy with a new name and modify the appearance as you desire. It's a real pita if you don't know what you're doing though, good luck, you'll need it.
  • JackieDelunaJackieDeluna Junior Member Posts: 6
    Hedberg wrote: »
    Yes, that would be a Modero (G4) panel and the file would be editable with TPD4.

    What you have to do to get the file from the panel is explained in the documentation for the panel which is available for download from the AMX site. In TPD4 you "transfer" and "receive from panel" the file which is stored on the touch panel. In order to do this you have to be on the same network as the TP and the master and you have to know the IP address of the master on that network. This may be simple, it may be hard. Depends on the network infrastructure that the master and TP are connected to. All is revealed in the documentation.

    Once you have the file loaded into TP4, you can edit it to your heart's content and then transfer it back. Before you do anything, save the panel file that you downloaded from the TP so that when you screw it up you can go back to the original. Double check and make sure that you have it saved before you do anything else and make sure that you are not editing your saved copy by mistake. Don't ask why I give that advice.

    Read the documentation on the touch panel and how it works. Learn how to preview the touchpanel flow. Make sure that you preserve the channel ports and channel codes for the buttons because if you don't, the functionality goes away.

    Once you have edited a TP or two, it will seem easy. But, TPD4 is a complex software product with a lot of nooks and crannies and the designers of the software expect that the user will be familiar with a lot of AMX concepts and terminology. There is a steep learning curve.

    Could you possibly link me to the documentation that explains how to pull the file off the panel? Thank you!
    vining wrote: »
    It shouldn't be a problem to change all the graphics if you ensure page names remain the same and button port/channel and other properties remain the same.

    You can extract the existing TP, save for a back up and then create a copy with a new name and modify the appearance as you desire. It's a real pita if you don't know what you're doing though, good luck, you'll need it.

    Awesome. I'm looking forward to learning more about it, regardless of the amount of time it takes. Thank you.
  • HedbergHedberg Junior Member Posts: 671
    Could you possibly link me to the documentation that explains how to pull the file off the panel? Thank you!

    Here's the link to the documentation, all 428 pages of it. Enjoy:http://www.amx.com/assets/manuals/TPDesign4.OperationReferenceGuide.pdf

    added: once you get into the transfer dialog and establish a connection and transfer from the panel, it's pretty self-explanatory how to download the file.
  • PhreaKPhreaK Senior Member Posts: 966
    The advice above is solid. Follow it.

    To help orientate you within the AMX world a bit more the basic, simplified structure of a system like yours is divided into two core components. You have the touch panel, which with the Modero panels essentially functions as a soft keyboard (you can place buttons at will and assign them unique channel numbers) combined with a display device (where all elements must be predefined and placed on 'pages' or 'popups').

    This then talks to a NI master which does all the heavy lifting of device communication etc. Where it gets a bit iffy is there are a couple of different approaches for how these work together. You can either:
    1. let the NI master handle all the interface navigation (changing of pages etc) and have an extremely tightly coupled system, or
    2. separate this out and have all interface navigation handled internally by the panel and abstract all communication between the two into predominately channel based (think of it as a key press) interaction.
    If your system has been programmed using the latter approach you will have a lot more flexibility as to how you can manipulate the interface. The only constraint is that each button number will trigger the same device behavior as what you want, you can however manipulate the visual style to improve aesthetics and redesign the interface to increase its usability for your purpose. If the first approach has been taken you will be limited to aesthetic modifications only and you will any rename of pages or popups will break functionality.

    All the above assumes that the TP4 file that you will need to grab from the panel has not been protected. If that's the case you won't be able to do anything and will need to suggest to your boss that he contact a local integrator. They will be able to work with you to analyse your requirements then design, program and produce a solution that does exactly what you require. I suggest this step be taken regardless of your success in modifying the panel.
  • JackieDelunaJackieDeluna Junior Member Posts: 6
    PhreaK wrote: »
    The advice above is solid. Follow it.

    To help orientate you within the AMX world a bit more the basic, simplified structure of a system like yours is divided into two core components. You have the touch panel, which with the Modero panels essentially functions as a soft keyboard (you can place buttons at will and assign them unique channel numbers) combined with a display device (where all elements must be predefined and placed on 'pages' or 'popups').

    This then talks to a NI master which does all the heavy lifting of device communication etc. Where it gets a bit iffy is there are a couple of different approaches for how these work together. You can either:
    1. let the NI master handle all the interface navigation (changing of pages etc) and have an extremely tightly coupled system, or
    2. separate this out and have all interface navigation handled internally by the panel and abstract all communication between the two into predominately channel based (think of it as a key press) interaction.
    If your system has been programmed using the latter approach you will have a lot more flexibility as to how you can manipulate the interface. The only constraint is that each button number will trigger the same device behavior as what you want, you can however manipulate the visual style to improve aesthetics and redesign the interface to increase its usability for your purpose. If the first approach has been taken you will be limited to aesthetic modifications only and you will any rename of pages or popups will break functionality.

    All the above assumes that the TP4 file that you will need to grab from the panel has not been protected. If that's the case you won't be able to do anything and will need to suggest to your boss that he contact a local integrator. They will be able to work with you to analyse your requirements then design, program and produce a solution that does exactly what you require. I suggest this step be taken regardless of your success in modifying the panel.

    Is there any possible way to know which approach was used? If it has been programmed using the second approach, I will attempt to pull the source files off of the panel. If I can't, I will let my boss know. If that is the case, he will probably want me to reprogram the entire system myself. Thank you for that explanation. It was very informative.
  • jjamesjjames AMX Sustaining Engineer Posts: 2,901
    My question is in all of this - who gave your superiors the software?

    Tread lightly young grasshopper, as you (and the company you work for) are in direct violation of AMX's license grant, which states:
    The AMX Software is subject to restrictions on distribution described in this License Agreement. AMX Dealer, Distributor, VIP or other AMX authorized entity shall not, and shall not permit any other person to, disclose, display, loan, publish, transfer (whether by sale, assignment, exchange, gift, operation of law or otherwise), license, sublicense, copy, or otherwise disseminate the AMX Software.

    My suggestion - save everyone a headache and contact AMX for support. AMX will most likely refer you to a dealer who is competent in helping out, or may direct you to the local rep who can further distinguish who'd be in a position to help out. If you can explain the situation to the new dealer, they may be able to give you a break on pricing. Heck - I'm sure plenty of us on the forum would be happy to help out your company, and have things done right the first time. As I'm sure your superiors are well aware, time is money. The less time you spend on it and have a professional come in and do it, the cheaper it will be. I suspect that is what will happen, it's just a matter of time.

    Please feel free to ask for help from AMX, ask for help from any of the qualified VIPs, or companies here on the forums, or as a last resort, PM me if you'd like to discuss some options in getting your system up to your company's specs and supplying the support your company deserves.

    Cliffnotes: You (and your company) are NOT allowed to have the software. Period. I strongly suggest you do not program it yourself and to get a professional to do it.
  • HedbergHedberg Junior Member Posts: 671
    Is there any possible way to know which approach was used? If it has been programmed using the second approach, I will attempt to pull the source files off of the panel. If I can't, I will let my boss know. If that is the case, he will probably want me to reprogram the entire system myself. Thank you for that explanation. It was very informative.


    Within TPD4 there is a panel preview utility. Basically, it is a simulation mode which allows the developer/programmer to exercise the panel's workflow without loading it to a physical panel and without requiring (or allowing) a connection to a master controller. If you do the "G4 Panel Preview" in TPD4 and the simulated touch panel responds identically to the physical touch panel, then all the page flips and popup controls are on the TP. If there are button presses on the physical panel which cause page flips or popup actions that you cannot duplicate in previeww/simulation mode, then these are controlled by the code on the master.

    Make sense?

    You activate "G4 Panel Preview" mode by hitting the F12 function key within TPD4. You can also activate it through the "panel" menu or by hitting the green arrow speed button on one of the toolbars in the interface, if that button is present.
  • JackieDelunaJackieDeluna Junior Member Posts: 6
    jjames wrote: »
    My question is in all of this - who gave your superiors the software?

    Tread lightly young grasshopper, as you (and the company you work for) are in direct violation of AMX's license grant, which states:



    My suggestion - save everyone a headache and contact AMX for support. AMX will most likely refer you to a dealer who is competent in helping out, or may direct you to the local rep who can further distinguish who'd be in a position to help out. If you can explain the situation to the new dealer, they may be able to give you a break on pricing. Heck - I'm sure plenty of us on the forum would be happy to help out your company, and have things done right the first time. As I'm sure your superiors are well aware, time is money. The less time you spend on it and have a professional come in and do it, the cheaper it will be. I suspect that is what will happen, it's just a matter of time.

    Please feel free to ask for help from AMX, ask for help from any of the qualified VIPs, or companies here on the forums, or as a last resort, PM me if you'd like to discuss some options in getting your system up to your company's specs and supplying the support your company deserves.

    Cliffnotes: You (and your company) are NOT allowed to have the software. Period. I strongly suggest you do not program it yourself and to get a professional to do it.
    I will let my superiors know that. I am unsure where he acquired the software. It was never our intent to violate any license agreements. Thank you for this information.
    Hedberg wrote: »
    Within TPD4 there is a panel preview utility. Basically, it is a simulation mode which allows the developer/programmer to exercise the panel's workflow without loading it to a physical panel and without requiring (or allowing) a connection to a master controller. If you do the "G4 Panel Preview" in TPD4 and the simulated touch panel responds identically to the physical touch panel, then all the page flips and popup controls are on the TP. If there are button presses on the physical panel which cause page flips or popup actions that you cannot duplicate in previeww/simulation mode, then these are controlled by the code on the master.

    Make sense?

    You activate "G4 Panel Preview" mode by hitting the F12 function key within TPD4. You can also activate it through the "panel" menu or by hitting the green arrow speed button on one of the toolbars in the interface, if that button is present.
    Yes that makes perfect sense. Thank you.
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