Most of the modern HMI projects I've seen look as if they escaped from the 70's. I mean, why spend hundreds (or thousands) of dollars on a modern HMI if your screens are going to consist of large square buttons and numeric displays?

Blocky Looking HMIs

To be fair, there's often not enough time in the design schedule for polishing up graphical displays with fancy images and animations. In most cases, if the system is up and running on time you'd consider yourself lucky.

So in an effort to help designers add some more “graphics” to their “graphic terminals,” today I'll share a few “free” options for spicing up your PanelView Plus or FactoryTalk ViewSE projects.

1) The definition of HMI development insanity is drawing the same thing over and over again

Legacy PanelViews

Remember that project you did ten years ago that you were so proud of? You worked nights and weekends to create your own personal HMI masterpiece. Or, maybe you just work a few minutes into your lunch break to add a little color to a rather dull screen.

Whatever the case, why not import those old ViewStudioME or PanelBuilder projects you've previously done. Then, copy those graphics worthy of re-use into your very own ViewStudio library.

And for those of you also using ViewSE, once you've imported your old HMI project's into ViewME you're only a couple of clicks away from having that same library imported into SE. ViewSE users can also import their old RSView32 masterpieces.

2) The Legacy Library

ViewStudio Legacy Library

Honestly, it's not the end all and be all of graphic libraries. But it's only a click away and completely free.

While you're not very likely to need the image of a “Space Shuttle,” “Boeing 747,” or a sexy wedge shaped “Pontiac Trans Sport” minivan in your next HIM project, the pipes, tanks, and other objects definitely have more value than plain square boxes.

3) New and improved: Symbol Factory

ViewStudio Symbol Factory

Being last doesn't usually have a lot of advantages. But in Rockwell's case, being the last HMI company to add Symbol Factory allowed them to embed the newest version with 20% more objects.

With this addition, you're just a couple of clicks away from adding anyone of the 5000 professionally drawn graphics to your HMI project. It's so easy in fact, by not using them in your next ViewStudio project you risk being labeled as a “Retro” HMI designer.

4) Imitation (and down right copying) is the highest form of flattery

View Demos

Now I wouldn't suggest you download all your competitor's HMI screens and start using them in your systems. But I know one company that would be more than happy for you to copy their work: Rockwell!

With all the samples and demos Rockwell makes, I'm absolutely surprised I don't see more people dressing up their HMI's with this additional source of graphics and animations.

5) The SampleCode is there waiting to be used.

Sample Code Library Screen Shot

Rockwell's free online codebase, also known as their Sample Code library, is full of HMI projects and faceplates. And it's all been uploaded for the sole purpose of sharing it with you.

So next time you're browsing the net, take a moment and point your browser to and check out all the free stuff available for your next HMI project.

6) PlantPAx Process Objects: It's completely free! Sort of…

PlantPAx Process Objects

Rockwell's PlantPAx library of Process Objects contains dozens of meticulously designed ViewStudio Faceplates and RSLogix 5000 add-on instructions. Each is designed to work out of the box without any of the more advanced features enabled. And all have been fully documented to make integrating them into your project easier.

The only down side is, you'll need a support contract to access the Rockwell Knowledgebase Tech Note which host's the download links:

I hope this article will provide some inspiration to ViewStudio users out there, and hopefully raise the bar a little in the HMI graphics area as most systems today look like they were design by someone who's been playing way too much Minecraft.


Shawn Tierney
Automation Instructor and Blogger
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