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What is a Template Server, and how do I configure One?

This article will be updated in the near future! In the meanwhile, if the following information is insufficient, contact support@flow-software.com.

A template server is another Flow Instance that potentially hosts an entire organization or site's templates.

Advantages of a template server

From an engineering perspective, it helps with the speed of delivery when rolling out key KPI metrics to new work centers on your site. It makes change management and propagation of changes a once off operation and enforces best practices, “design once, use many”.

Templates-TemplateServer-Advantages.png

From a business perspective, it ensures constancy and creates a standardized KPIs that can span multiple manufacturing facilities. This ensures that true benchmarking can be achieve between sites as KPIs and calculations will be uniform and independent of the underlaying control systems that might be encountered.

How to create a template server key

Any Flow instance can be used as a template server.  The templates that have been configured on the Template Server can be derived by other Flow Instances connecting to the Template Server. 

For Flow instances to subscribe to templates hosted on a Template Server, a security key must be generated to establish a secure connection between the two Flow instances.

A key would need to be generated on the server hosting the templates. This key would then be used to configure connection to the server

How to link to a template server (properties)

To link to a template server, navigate to the template tab in the right configuration section of the configuration tool.

Templates-TemplateServer-TemplateTabIconFocus.png

This will bring focus to the template configuration tab.  Right-click any where in the blank section will present two options:

  • New
This will allow the user to either create a new Folder to organize his template structure or to link this Flow instance to a Template server.
  • Refresh
Refresh the template tree structure.
   

Templates-TemplateServer-ContextMenuLinkTo.png

In order to link to a Template server, select the “Link to Template Server” option. It will show the properties to be configured to connect with the template server:

Templates-TemplateServer-TSProperties.png

  • Name
Name to identify the template server.
  • Server
Name of the server where the template is hosted (Typically the Tier 2 system).
  • Instance
Instance key of the Flow instance where the templates are hosted. This will be copied with the server key when generating a server key on the Template server.
  • Server Key
Server key copied when generating a server key on the Template server.
  • Server Port
Port to use for communicating to the template server. Default is port 4501. This can be changed if policies restrict the use of the port. The bootstrap communication must then also be changed to utilize the new port number.
  • Timeout (seconds)
Timeout to try and establish communication with the template server.
  • SSL Security
Enable / disable the use of SSL security. If enabled, make sure that the bootstrap communication is also set to use SSL security.
  • Proxy Server
If a proxy server is required to communicate with the template server, add the server detail to this section. A Proxy server port and user credentials will also be available if a Proxy server is specified.
   

After configuring all the relevant properties, the connection can be verified by selecting the “Test” button. A message will confirm if you have successfully established communication:

Templates-TemplateServer-ConnectSuccess.png

Select the “Save” button to save your template server configuration. The template server will now be present in you Template Configuration tab:

Templates-TemplateServer-TSAddedToTree.png

Right-click on the template server and preform a “Refresh” task on the server:

Templates-TemplateServer-TSRefresh.png

This will load tall the templates that is available on the template server:

Templates-TemplateServer-TSComparedToLocal.png

Note: Templates derived from a Template Server cannot be instantiated directly into the Flow model. A local “copy / instance” of the template must first be derived in the Template configuration tab before it can be instantiated to the local Flow model.

Create a local instance of the templates served by the Template server by selecting the Folder required to be instantiated and “drag” the template Folder into the template structure on the local node:

Templates-TemplateServer-DerivingFromTS.png

Depending on the requirement, not only can entire folders and all the templates they contain be instantiated locally, but individual metrics and even measures can be instantiated.

Only after confirming all relevant calculations and releasing the template, would it be available to be used to instantiated in the local Flow model.

Note that the icons of the components instantiated from a Template server will be shown in a green color, confirming that they are derived from a template server:

Templates-TemplateServer-FocusOnDerivedFromTSEntities.png

Updates performed on the template server will ripple through on the local instance after a refresh command is performed on the template server. Changes will be shown with the blue status icon:

Templates-TemplateServer-UpdateFromTSRequired.png

Only after manually “updating” the measure by means of a “right-click” operation and releasing it, will the change ripple through to the instantiated measures.

From this point forward, normal template workflow and functionality applies.

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