The "ISES WEB Control" software


ISES WEB Control was software kit for remote experiments with Java applets. Since 2013 the remote experiments are created with software kit iSES Remote Lab SDK.

The operation of remote laboratories appears to be a complicated task. To the contrary the creation of websites has become a routine matter. This paper describes a software kit called "ISES WEB Control" for supporting remote measurements and control making it possible also for beginning WEB site authors to integrate in their pages also elements for the support of remote experiments.

Remote laboratories, remote experiments, remote sensing, remote observing, robot, remote robot, etc. are the key words for us apply, if we want to retrieve, look at or test via Internet the new technologies, which can control various devices on the other side of Internet.

We have been able to communicate between computers since "the time out of mind" - let's remember, the lap-link, LAN connections at various levels and finally the Internet. We have been able to download and send files and even multi-media files without “fear” from anywhere and to anywhere. Only a few of us are aware that we are only a small step from controlling "the foot on the Internet gas pedal". Let's remember for instance sharing of applications, remote monitoring etc. all these applications will make it possible for us to work on the remote side not only “with files” but if the remote side is connected e.g. to a measuring system, we have got in our hands also an instrument to control remote laboratories.

These applications have developed into specialized applications server - client, always two programs are necessary, they allow tailor-made applications, they are safe etc. etc. It is the way followed by the industrial applications where identification, recording of control processes and what has been done and by whom is necessary. Also we went through this technology, but also the industrial systems. They are nearly faultless, nothing has been forgotten … may be except from "common people". Prior to the access into some remote laboratories is necessary to install the special software "RunTime Engine". Especially on slow networks this process is very slow and many users get discouraged right at the beginning. And users are scared of downloading and installing unknown programs in their computers. Some institutions in fact simply do not allow it.

To the situation as described above there slowly develop as counterweight such applications where the client program is not a specialized one but a common browser (MS Internet Explorer, Mozilla FireFox, Opera, etc.), which nearly no Internet user can do without. We would like to present to you our universal and modular design approach - the software “ISES WEB Control" for supporting remote measurements and control, which at moment works with the ISES measuring system (but it not a great problem to extend the "ISES WEB Control" by a plug-in for other measuring and control hardware).

The client screen (user)
The client screen (user), your browser Internet Explorer, FireFox, Opera

The Web based task can be controlled, it can be monitored by a WEB camera, an on-line graph can be plotted and the most exciting thing is - you can launch the start and the stop of a measurement, even of several measurements. You can transmit such measurements by means of a data file but also via a clipboard into your own computer, e.g. right in your Excel(!).

It is a one-access task available for a user for 5 minutes another user has to wait in queue or it is possible to allow the access after entering a password only. In its authenticity this task approaches the impression that you are really measuring and that it is no simulation. You have got also the possibility to process the outputs of the task immediately on your computer. All this encourages in you a feeling of a sinful laboratory work.

The “ISES WEB Control“ software kit

Now a few words to the basic principles of “ISES WEB Control” [1]. The server software part runs in the standard WEB server environment (e.g. Apache, etc.). In our case the web environment must be of the Windows type because we are able to measure with our measuring apparatuses only in DOS and Windows environments. We have not implemented any drivers for Unix. The remote tasks are realized in the WEB server environment nearly as standard "HTML" pages. Moreover, these pages contain Java applets which make it possible to communicate with the measuring devices. Probably, it is not easy to create such applets and for that reason we have prepared ready applets which will be used as a block in a HTML page. The applets contain a lot of input parameters so that also an advanced user may adapt such an applet to his needs. The server software contains apart from HTML pages with applets also running applications providing for the communication with the hardware. Apart from the already mentioned standard WEBserver, other our important server application are running as ImageServer for the support of WEB cameras, MeasureServer for the control of the hardware.

The server screen
The server screen with WEBserver, MeasureServer and ImageServer

On the server side the produced WEB pages use applets which make it possible to create control keys and bars for the control of outputs, applets for measuring and digital displaying of input values, applets for graphic displaying of input values, applets for the transmission of measured values into the client computer, applets for the image transmission from a WEB camera, etc. The "ISES WEB Control" kit consists up to now of 20 applets which feature a lot of input parameters and great flexibility.

Representation of the Java object
Representation of the Java object (left) in the HTML code (right).

In the case of remote laboratories an inevitable hardware part - e.g. the measuring device is connected to the server machine. And may be that those of you who have already taken measurements on local measuring apparatuses anticipate that such a computer has to possess for instance analogue-digital and digital-analogue transducers to be able to ”communicate” with laboratory instruments. In our case the server hardware consists of the system ISES.

The server hardware is system ISES
The server hardware is system ISES

How to build a remote experiment with the ISES kit?

It has appeared during the construction of remote tasks that partial applets repeat and repeat. So we have started to compile applets with optional parameters. How simple! We must have been blind! And so the "ISES WEB Control" [1] software kit was born which has made it possible also for the beginning producers of WWW-sites to create remote laboratories easily. Meanwhile it is based on he ISES hardware and the Windows operation system.

How to build a remote experiment with the ISES kit? It is simple. All you need is a computer, the ISES hardware, Web camera and the "ISES WEB Control" software.

  1. You need a computer in which the ISES hardware is running locally (ADDA board, ISES panel and ISES sensors). The computer should be able to operate a WEB server (e.g. the free available Apache Web server for WinXP or e.g. the free available PinkNet Web server for Win98).
  2. You place HTML pages with the remote experiment into the WWW environment on such a computer - it means HTML text with applets of the "ISES WEB Control" kit. Probably it would not be easy to create such applets and therefore we have prepared for you ready to use applets to be applied as "drag and copy" into a HTML page." The applets contain a lot of input parameters so that also an advanced user may get them tailored. Probably easily understandable will be the applets - push buttons for the output of the value (voltage), or for the input of the measured value, or the scrollbar applet. . There is available another applet for visualization of the WEB camera. Further applets serve for the communication with the measuring server, they make connections, display the queue of users they provide for recording, choice and graphic output of the experiment they can generate the data measured and so on. Of course, an operation manual (sorry only in Czech) is enclosed to the kit which describes the possibilities for you to be used later.
  3. You will place and run on server side apart from HTML pages with applets also server applications which will provide for the communication with hardware. There runs on he server apart from our mentioned optional standard WEBserver, another important server applications like ImageServer for the support of WEB cameras, MeasureServer for the control of the hardware e.g. our ISES.
  4. That's all. And you've got a remote laboratory. Added and underscored - you have 3 server-programs running (WEBserver, ImageServer, MeasureServer) and you have an experiment connected to the ISES kit. From now it is “only” the matter of thinking out such tasks which will be “self-serving” and don't require the human hand. And believe it or not to think out such tasks is not so easy.
  5. And now you are waiting for the first clients who connect themselves via a standard browser e.g. Internet Explorer. On your websites you notify your clients that they have to possess the support of the Java language - to be setup in the scope of possibilities of the browser. In older Win98 this is permitted implicitly however the new Win2000-XP require the additional installation of the Java language support (e.g. on ).

Contact for “ISES WEB Control software”

Assoc. Prof. Dr. František Lustig
Charles University Prague
Faculty of Mathematics and Physics