ETS – manufacturer and product discovery

When purchased from the store, KNX devices are not configured. The devices are empty. In this state, the devices cannot be used in a KNX installation.

In order to use a KNX device in a smart home installation, KNX devices first need to be configured. ETS tool is used to configure a KNX device.

Engineering Tool Software (or ETS tool) is a tool developed and distributed by the KNX organization. The tool is used by KNX installers and system integrators to configure the device in a KNX installation.

This is similar like going to the store and buying a blank canvas. In this state, the canvas has no value. It has no purpose. But when an artist applies some paint on a canvas, it gets meaning.

There are a lot of companies that produce KNX devices.

All of these companies have wide range of KNX products.

ETS tool knows how to handle all of these various products.

How is this possible?

Devices supported

When trying to configure a certain KNX device, ETS tool performs a very important check. First thing that ETS tool will verify, is that the product is created by a certified KNX manufacturer.

This makes a lot of sense. KNX is a closed system. Everything in the KNX world must be certified. If the certified manufacturer check fails, there is no reason to continue with the device configuration.

But how does the ETS tool know about all the certified manufacturers?

There are a lot of manufacturers and at any point new manufacturer can be added to the list of certified KNX manufacturers.

To achieve this KNX is using two mechanism.

First mechanism – ETS periodically checks for the new manufacturers. To be more precise there is master data file. It is an xml file which contains some KNX metadata. Data like:

  • Datapoint Types
  • Interface Object Types
  • Interface Object Properties
  • Property Data Types
  • Medium Types
  • Mask Versions
  • Functional Blocks
  • Product Languages
  • Manufacturers
  • Languages

As you can see, there is a Manufacturers section in the master data xml file. This section contains a list of all certified KNX manufacturers. When the new manufacturer get certified, he is added to the list of manufacturers in the master data file.

The master data file is updated periodically, every two weeks, by the ETS tool. This means that after two weeks all ETS installations in the world will have updated information about certified KNX manufacturers.

With this first mechanism in place, there is a chance that the device is created by certified manufacturer but the master data is not updated. This can happen if less than two weeks have passed from manufacturer certification. Or in case when the computer running the ETS application does not have an internet connection.

In this case, second mechanism is used. To program a KNX device, ETS needs to get some detail information about that device. Every device manufacturer needs to create an ETS product database file for the device. ETS product database file contains all the information that ETS tool needs to configure the device.

ETS Program database file contains the manufacturer code. KNX is in control of creating the product database file and the ETS tool will trust the information in it. If there is a new manufacturer code in a product database, it will be added to the master data file. After this the manufacturer will be considered as a certified KNX manufacturer and devices from this manufacturer can be configured with the ETS tool.

ETS product database

As I have already mentioned, to program a KNX device ETS tool needs some information about the device. For this purpose, ETS product database file is used.

In order to create a KNX device, manufacturer needs to do a couple of things:

  • Create the device,
  • Create the ETS product database file,
  • Certify the device.

This is a very simplified list but it gives a basic overview of things that need to be done.

To protect their interests, KNX organization does not share any information about the format of a ETS product database file. They have created a tool which is called KNX Manufacturer Tool. This tool is used by manufacturers to produce the ETS product database files.

Product database file format contains information about:

  • Device manufacturer,
  • Application program,
  • Functional blocks,
  • Interface objects,
  • Datapoints,

To configure a device with ETS tool, KNX installer first needs to import the product database file. After that the device will be available in the ETS application. The device can be selected and configured with the ETS application.

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