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CANopen Electronic Data Sheets Now in XML

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Electronic data sheets are formalized device descriptions, which are used as exchange format for software tools, too. In the early days of CANopen, there was just a textual format standardized (CiA 306). The XML format introduced in 2007 has not been accepted that well, due to the limited advantages compared to the ASCII format. With version 1.1 the XML schema definition (CiA 311) is improved: It is now possible to describe modular CANopen devices as well as “field.” “Fields” are sub-structures of parameters and sub-parameters (used in Arrays and Records). Still missing are description possibilities for finite state automata (FSA) and constraints between parameters and sub-parameters.

The CiA 311 conformant XSD files describing the communication and application behavior of a CANopen device could be generated by means of tools and also be proofed by tools. The XSD files are suitable for device design, device configuration, system integration and diagnosis. Many CANopen tools will understand XML files. If not, there are also parsers available, which translate the ASCII format into XML format and vice versa. “The acceptance of the XML format will increase significantly due to the additional functionality,” said Thilo Schumann, XML expert in the CiA office. “In this fall, we will see the first tools supporting the improved XML-Schema.” The CANopen XML schema is downloadable free of charge.

CAN in Automation, Nuremberg, Germany. +49-911-928819-0. [www.canopen.org].