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About DM2000

Development objectives.

Data Master 2000 is a Windows application designed for automation of data acquisition, control, processing and analysis. Although a lot of multi-purpose data analysis and presentation software packages are available in the market, practically it is impossible to use them for real-time data acquisition. From the other hand, since there is no industrial standard, commercial data acquisition software operates with measurement equipment produced only by limited number of manufacturers and incompatible with specialized or home-made devices. Moreover, usually it has insufficient analysis and control features and, as a result, very inconvenient for complex experiment automation tasks.

Scientists engaged in experimental research frequently meet this situation. Unfortunately the only right way out is to create specialized software. DM2000 project is the successful example of such software, because it combines data acquisition, control and analysis capabilities that makes it extremely useful for various research activities.

Typical structure of the data acquisition application involves following modules: hardware interface drivers, measurement algorithms, control UI and data manipulation UI as shown on the picture above. While measurement algorithms and control UI is highly specific and, as a rule, must be created or customized by the end user, hardware interface drivers and data manipulation UI is much more reusable. Hence, typical data acquisition software includes data manipulation UI ("virtual X-Y recorder"), hardware driver database and provides some kind of customization tools.

Unlike the most of commercial data acquisition software based on proprietary ("closed") customization model like "internal macro languages" or "graphic programming", DM2000 software provides extensible open architecture founded on well-standardized, language-independent programming techniques, such as OLE automation and ActiveX scripting (see detailed Programmer's Guide for more information). Actually you may use DM2000 framework for automating almost any instrument with standard PC interface (e.g. RS232) without complex programming: just create appropriate control UI and implement measurement algorithms as an embedded script like in MS Office documents or web pages. Simple RS232 ActiveX control as well as examples of GPIB-based ActiveX device drivers available for download from this site. For experienced programmers, DM2000 provides a consistent set of COM objects and a lot of ready-to-use functions specially optimized for real-time operation with complex data acquisition systems (read more about instrument automation with DM2000 and follow step-by-step instructions for building ActiveX-based applications).

Project history.

Data Master history was started in 1993 and up to now it is closely bound with evolution of Borland Pascal compilers. First five major versions ran only under MS DOS (real mode and DPMI), and have rather limited functionality in comparison to current DM2000 application. All these versions were based on well known text-mode Turbo Vision library. However, they were able to record data from experimental facilities and switch to graphic mode to show curves in real time. A lot of interesting experimental results were obtained with these DOS-based applications.

Since 1995 year Borland Pascal slightly revise its philosophy and change its name - today it is known as Delphi. Although it was possible to develop Windows applications with Borland Pascal 7.0, first version of Data Master for Windows (v6.0) was programmed in Delphi. It was a simple platform transfer rather then new project and it was partially based on existing DM for DOS units. Although DMW6.0 was native Windows application, its graphic functionality didn't satisfy increasing requirements, because it used VBX component shipped with Delphi, which cannot be adapted for seamless integration with custom applications. That's why the next version (7.x) was based on the original VCL component graphic engine specially optimized for data acquisition, processing and analysis purposes.

Version 8.x, ported to Win32 platform, was just improved 7.x. Both 7.x and 8.x versions have built-in experimental hardware support. Next generation (versions 9.x) used separate applications to access measurement equipment, because our experimental facilities became more complex and versatile and it was inconvenient to automate different experiments with the same universal application. However,  interprocess communication mechanism used in DMW9 was too limited and inefficient, and its user interface also didn't conform new Win95 UI standards.

DM2000 (version 10.x) was completely redesigned: now it behaves and looks like common desktop application, has standard and intuitive graphic interface and, as a result, it is much easier to use. Moreover, DM2000 has a lot of new features and is fully programmable via standard OLE Automation technologies. I hope that evolution of this product still not finished, and it will be yet more powerful in future versions.

Applications.

Different versions of Data Master were successfully used in the experimental research for data acquisition and analysis since 1993. Several examples of the experimental facilities automated with DM2000 listed below:

Brief statistics of scientific activities related to the DM2000 project: