Baldor is adding powerful program debugging facilities to its Mint language for motion and machine automation. The company's Windows-based Mint WorkBench toolsuite now include breakpoints, single-step program execution and virtual hardware - thereby providing sophisticated tools for dealing with the growing complexity of machine design.
"Machine design is tending to become more complex with many axes, sophisticated HMIs, software configurability and factory integration issues," notes Mark Crocker of Baldor. "These new debug resources in Mint WorkBench can dramatically reduce development timescales."
The new debug tools include execution break points, single-step (or 'step into' subroutines or functions) program execution, execute to cursor position, and sophisticated watch facilities that will track the value of variables, etc.
Another valuable resource is a 'hover over' feature. This allows engineers to see how a variable or task is declared, or the value of a variable while the program is running, simply by positioning the cursor on a program line. You can also jump to the defintion of any variable, sub-routine or task via a context-sensitive, right-click menu.
Code may be executed without connection to hardware, giving engineers the means to start developing and testing software before the hardware is ready. A new 'virtual motion controller' facility allows users to run the code as it would on most of Baldor's NextMove family of motion controllers, which includes PCIbus cards, standalone controllers, and Ethernet Powerlink compatible systems.
"The simplicity and ease of programming is increasingly a critical factor in automation project success," adds Crocker. "These new debugging resources, combined with the rich range of development tools in Mint Workbench, provide automation engineers with the same kind of sophisticated facilities that you can see on PC languages - providing a tangible breakthrough in productivity that can dramatically reduce machinery project timescales and cost."
The Mint language has been developed over nearly 20 years and today offers a high-productivity development environment for automation applications. Its use of high-level English-like commands simplifies program writing and comprehension. These commands include what Baldor describes as probably the richest motion control programming facilities available worldwide, with 'keywords' that effectively provide templates or 'canned' software functions for common motion/movement related functions. The wide range of Mint's motion control functions compared with 'open' industry software greatly simplifies complex machine design projects. The software also comes with its own license-free multitasking operating system, and free ActiveX components for easy connectivity with PCs.
The latest Mint WorkBench is available for download from www.baldormotion.com/supportme.