Software & Control

Introduction

Data Display has over the past 8 years being developing its XSDS software suite, which is our core software and used to drive and manage our diverse range of electronic displays. When designing the XSDS architecture, the engineers at Data Display had a number of key factors to consider: Data Display’s broad international client base ranging from a retail outlet to a large transport network, the need to provide a full end to end software solution as well as partial solutions, the ability to adapt software to suit changing display technologies (LED, TFT, Flip-dot etc.) and also the ability to be able to adapt to changing communication technologies (serial, Ethernet, GPRS, GSM etc)

In order to fulfil these main requirements, Data Display needed to develop a flexible modular based architecture which was scalable enough to run on a low cost embedded controller right up to managing thousands of displays and running on top end computer servers.

What Data Display has developed is the XSDS (Next Generation Standard Display Software) software suite. The XSDS software suite consists of a stable core system to which a variety of plug-in-modules can be applied. On a per project basis, the XSDS system can be configured to be a simple manager for a simple scrolling sign or can be configured to manage a nation wide array of road signs.

All of our graphical user interfaces (GUI) utilise the latest web based technologies. The benefit of this approach is that the XSDS application only needs to be installed in one central location and the GUI can be accessed from any location using a web browser. This takes away the need to install client software.

We adopt a similar approach when it comes to communications with the physical displays. The system has a generic transport layer which ensures reliable communications. We then have a library of transport drivers for handling communications such as RS232, RS485, Ethernet, Fibre, GSM, GPRS etc.
As new technologies become available, this does not cause major redesign issues. We simply implement a new plug-in module.

XSDS Product areas

Data Display is an international market leader in a wide variety of market sectors. It is important for us to have a common software platform for use in all of these market segments. Some of the main market areas the XSDS has been deployed includes:

• Rail
• Bus
• Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS)
• Airport
• Car Park systems
• Cinema
• Production
• Sports
• Public Information Systems

Data Display has developed some standard product offerings which can be used off-the-shelf by customers. However, the real versatility of our software is demonstrated when we need to provide completely customised offerings to our customers.

To date we have completed over 140 bespoke customised solutions for international customers across all of our market categories. We can work with our customers to provide a GUI look and feel that is unique to each customer. If you have an existing software system, we can integrate our software with your system so that you can integrate Data Displays signage.

XSDS Architecture

As we have mentioned before, the XSDS software suite is built around a stable core system

XSDS Architecture

XSDS Architecture

The XSDS backend forms the core of the system and is the component responsible for managing the displays. All of the standard management functions are handled by the XSDS backend:

• Fault management
• Configuration management
• Accounting management
• Performance management
• Security management
• Content management

The XSDS backend can be deployed as a single installation or its functionality can be distributed across a network.

Data Display has developed an XML language used to communicate with the XSDS backend. This is called DML or Display Mark-up Language. DML is a low level XML language which allows users to specify pages of information, lines within pages, alternates within lines etc. Regardless of whether you are driving a full graphics TFT display or a simple 1 line LED display, the backend will take care of translating the DML language into the appropriate protocol for the display. For example, if we are driving a TFT display, the DML gets converted into HTML and sent to the TFT. If we are driving an LED display it will get converted to Data Displays DDX or DBWin protocols etc.

Example of system with display drivers

Example of system with display drivers

Using this approach, we have developed a common interface for all of our display technologies. This approach also means a system can be built up using a combination of display technologies without a redesign being required. This is achieved using the plug in architecture where we can develop display drivers for each of our display types. When a new display type is developed, there is no major redevelopment required. We simply implement a plug-in for the new display.

We adopt a similar approach when it comes to communications with the physical displays. The system has a generic transport layer which ensures reliable communications. We then have a library of transport drivers for handling communications such as RS232, RS485, Ethernet, Fibre, GSM, GPRS etc.
As new technologies become available, this does not cause major redesign issues. We simply implement a new plug-in module.

When it comes to interfacing with customers systems, again a plug-in architecture is adopted. We will implement a plug-in module called a protocol translator. The purpose of the protocol translator is to:

a) Interface with a customers system (be it a database, an excel file, a custom protocol etc.)

b) Translate that protocol into Data Displays DML language.

Interfacing with 3rd party installation

Interfacing with 3rd party installation

As we have completed over 140 custom projects using XSDS, we have built up a large library of protocol translators. A lot of these cover standard transportation protocols, cinema point of sales systems, and most popular databases. Some areas we have protocol translators for are:

• Web services.
• RSS Feeds
• Various SNMP MIB objects.
• Standard Rail Feeds
• Standard Cinema Feeds
• Standard ITS feeds

We will also work with customers if they wish to develop completely bespoke interfaces.

Data Display Layout Editor

Data Display is constantly developing and improving the XSDS core system. We have recently released the Core 3 architecture. This is an extension on previous builds with a lot of new features included.

One major new feature is the graphical layout editor. The layout editor will allow customers to define their own layout on displays (Selected LED, TFT & RGB). For example a customer may want to change the layout of a rail platform display. Using this layout tool, the user can specify where the platform number goes, where the destination goes, where the status goes. Also when dealing with graphical displays colour schemes etc can be changed.

RGB display with layout editor

RGB display with layout editor

RGB display with layout editor

RGB display with layout editor

LED platform display with layout editor

LED platform display with layout editor

 

 

Web based GUI

Data Display now utilises Web based technologies in its GUI development. The XSDS backend contains a web based server which hosts the GUI. The benefit of this approach is that the client does not need to worry about installing client software on each machine. Some of the features of the GUI are:

• Multi-lingual support
• Web based
• Partial or whole GUI can be supplied.
• Stand alone MIMIC
• Full access control
• Data Display can implement a completely bespoke GUI for a customer.

Sample Data Display software case studies

1) Eurotunnel software

2) City Management software



Data Display UK +44 23 9224 7500