Lookout Direct


Thread Starter

Brian Seal

I'm looking at using the lookout direct HMI software. Does anyone have any experience with it? If so I would appreciate a review. Thanks Brian Seal
I'm a first-time user, but having one project under my belt can say a few things. My experience is with the LookoutDirect package sold by AutomationDirect, and is a slightly stripped down version of NI's Lookout, and about a version release behind. It puts me in mind of the difference between Lotus Approach and Microsoft Access database programs. Approach did what you needed to do, and was fairly simple to use, but wasn't very powerful in terms of programming capability. Access, on the other hand, is powerful, but is also less user-friendly, and requires a steeper learning curve. Lookout isn't too difficult to use, and does the job, but (at least with the version I was running) lacks a couple of tools that would have made me happier. For instance, once an object is created, and a relation is made to it then it's impossible to delete that object without first breaking the relationship. So far, so good ... that's what you'd want to have happen. The bad thing is that the only feedback the software gives is a message like, "Cannot delete due to dependencies", but it doesn't point you to where those dependiencies are. Its possible to look at the source with an editor (Notepad) and find it that way, but (again, at least with the stripped version I used) it's impossible to edit the source directly using Notepad, and recompiling it back. This would be nice addition, because there are times when it looks like editing the source would be a lot easier. The other thing I thought is that (instead of, or in addition to) the menu navigation method used to tie I/O and PLC registers to objects that a visual 'connect-the-dots' CAD-style view would have been simpler to use in many cases. Another thing to consider, although it may have been due to the connection method I used (comms to an A-B SLC500/3 serial port), but I couldn't get it to poll faster than 1 Hz. In this application it didn't matter much, but I wouldn't be able to use it across-the-board if this is the upper comms speed limit. I had one heck of a time getting it to talk correctly to the PLC - it could read some, but not all, PLC registers, but I couldn't get it to write to any. Turned out that (and I can't remember the details of what happened) I'd pointed one of the objects to an I/O register that didn't exist. It was only after looking through the alarm log (and seeing there was an odd systems error), and fixing the I/O problem that comms started working correctly. Oh - and since I didn't have a printer hooked up, what I did was run a copy of Aladdin and Ghostscript, printed the alarm and event logs to Postscript files, and converted them to PDFs to be able to view them. Lookout didn't provide a facility for viewing them - only printing them. An internal viewer would be a welcome addition. One big plus is that screen editing can be done on-the-fly without disturbing background data logging. Conclusion - I'd use Lookout again for smaller projects, but would hesistate before committing to a large one built around it. If future releases improve the programming environment, increase comms speed, etc. I'd re-evaluate it for larger ones. I remember reading a couple of other reviews in this list when I was looking for info on troubleshooting the above comms problem - take a look-see in the archived messages. Bob