The PanelView Plus from Rockwell Automation was released back in 2003, and over the years countless thousands have been installed in applications across the world.

And like with any HMI, over time many End Users find they want to make changes to the project running on their PanelView Plus, but many quite honestly don’t know where to start.

To help address that question, today I’ll walk through the seven steps you need to take to successfully change or update the project on your PanelView Plus HMI Terminal.

NOTE: The best and quickest way to edit a PanelView Plus application is to start with the latest PanelView Plus View Machine Edition Application Archive File (.APA) as this is the file that the development software backs up to and restores a project from.

To learn how to backup (and restore) projects to an .APA file, see this article.

If you don’t have the .APA application file (or don’t have the password to it,) you may or may not be able to “recover” the project from the PanelView Plus itself, as it users a .MER runtime file.

In the rest of this article I’ll cover what you need to know if you’d like to try and “recover” the project from a .MER Runtime, file with links to several articles that dive deeper into this subject.

The bottom line is, if your .MER file is of a newer version and was created allowing conversion (see image below,) and it is not passworded or you have the correct password, you should not have an issue “recovering” / restoring / converting the .MER Runtime File into an Application you can edit in ViewStudio:

Step 1) Find the exact Catalog Number of your PanelView Plus HMI

The first step is to identify the exact model you have, which can easily be done by safely looking on the back of the HMI itself.

PanelView Plus 6 600 Compact Rear

This is necessary because over the last 18 years many different models have been released, including the original PanelView Plus, the VersaView CE (later renamed the PanelView Plus CE,) the PanelView Plus Compact, the PanelView Plus 6 and Plus 6 Compact, and the PanelView Plus 7 Standard and Performance.

Step 2) Finding your PanelView Plus Firmware Version

One thing I’ve always appreciated about the PanelView Plus is how (contrary to popular belief) newer PanelView Plus firmware is backward compatible with older runtime files.

By this I mean if you have a PanelView Plus 6 with firmware 8, it will run a project from an original PanelView Plus designed in version 3.0 of the software.

That said, the hardware itself has changed over time, with each iteration of the PanelView Plus supporting fewer communications options.

For instance, while the original PanelView Plus supported Remote IO and DeviceNet, the PanelView Plus 6 models dropped support for those two IO networks.

And the latest model, the PanelView Plus 7, only supports Ethernet. This change prevents those using the PVPlus or PVPlus 6 with DF1, DH-485, DH Plus, and ControlNet from easily migrating to the Plus 7.

This is why many End Users upgrade from the original PanelView Plus to the Plus 6 as most option boards, networks, screen resolutions, and cutouts are identical.

Step 3) PanelView Plus Programming Software

Next, if you want to edit the project file yourself, you’ll need a copy of FactoryTalk View Studio Machine Edition, which was originally released as RSView Machine Edition and included support for the PanelView Plus in version 3.0.

If you need to purchase a copy of View Studio ME, you’re going to receive the latest version, which will allow you to avoid a lot of issues that previous versions had trying to open old 32 bit projects on 64 bit operating systems.

But the downside of using a new version of the software to edit older projects is that newer versions will only create runtimes file back to version 5.0.

So if you have version 4.0 or earlier firmware in your PanelView Plus you’ll need to flash it up to 5.1 for maximum compatibility.

For more about flashing your PanelView Plus’s firmware, see my articles below:

Step 4) Uploading your PanelView Plus runtime file

Whether you think you have the latest runtime file or not, it’s always a good idea to backup the actual runtime project on the PanelView Plus prior to flashing a PanelView Plus’s firmware, or downloading an updated runtime file.

You can do this by using the free Transfer Utility, or by using the built-in Configuration Menu. You can even use “auto-run” scripts on a flash memory card or USB drive to copy the runtime files on your PVPlus:

Step 5) Editing the PanelView Plus project

When attempting to edit a PanelView Plus project, users can run into one of three issues:

  1. The Runtime (.MER) or Application (.APA) file has a password you don’t know
  2. The Runtime (.MER) file was set to be un-editable (set to “never allow conversion”)
  3. The Runtime (.MER) file is of a legacy version that is not editable

If you’ve run into one of these issues, see my article below where I cover them in more detail:

Step 6) Creating and Downloading a PanelView Plus Runtime File

Once you’ve made your edits, you’re ready to create a compatible runtime file and download it your PanelView Plus, something I do using the free Transfer Utility in the below videos:

If you prefer to use a memory stick, I also cover that procedure in the below article:

That said, it’s very important to set your “new application” as the “default application” if you’d like it to automatically start whenever you powerup your PanelView Plus.

I cover this in the above two videos, pointing out the checkbox you need to check when downloading to the PVPlus using the Transfer Utility.

But if you’re using another means to copy your runtime file onto your PVPlus, you’ll need to set your “new runtime” file as the “default” yourself (unless you use the same file name as the runtime file currently set as the default) which I cover in the below article:

Step 7) Testing your new project

Once you’ve downloaded a new runtime file to your PanelView Plus, you should thoroughly test it prior to going back into production.

Whether it’s to be sure you didn’t make any typos, or you just want to verify you edited and downloaded the correct project, testing any new code prior to going into production is a best practice that should always be followed.

Step 8) Become Proficient using View Studio and the PanelView Plus

While many facilities will opt to hire an integrator to make changes to their systems, some will prefer to have this ability in house.

If you’re in the latter category, consider enrolling in my PanelView Plus course at in which you’ll learn how to setup, edit and maintain these the PVPlus HMI.

And for a limited time, students who enroll in my PVP Basics+™ course also receive my upcoming PVPlus course, Ultimate PVP™ free of charge.

To find out more, check out the PVP Basics+™ course homepage here.

Until next time, Peace ✌️ 

Shawn M Tierney
Technology Enthusiast & Content Creator

Have a question? Join my community of automation professionals and take part in the discussion! You'll also find my PLC, HMI, and SCADA courses at

Shawn Tierney
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