Engineering Tool Software (or ETS tool) is tool developed by the KNX organization. Main purpose of the ETS tool is configuration and maintenance of the KNX installation.
ETS tool has been around for a number of years. It has gone through some design changes over the years, but the basic concept has remained the same.
ETS tool is definitely not an easy tool to use. It has a very open workflow. On one side, this is great. It gives you a lot of freedom and flexibility as a user. On the other hand, with all its options, ETS can be pretty difficult to master. Sometimes it can even feel overwhelming.
If you compare it with programming, ETS is similar to the development environment (for example Visual Studio). You can do almost anything with a good development environment. If you know what you are doing. 🙂 If you don’t know what you are doing, prepare yourself for a lot of pain and suffering.
This is one of the main reasons why the KNX organization has decided to create a new version of the ETS tool. A light version. Version with nice and modern User Interface (UI) which is designed for touchscreen usage.
This new version of the ETS tool is called ETS Inside. It is being developed and is currently in beta stage.
Besides new UI, the KNX organization has completely changed the workflow for the ETS Inside. “Programer” based workflow is replaced with new workflow which is tailor-made for the end user. This change comes with some drawbacks, which we will discuss later in this post.
ETS Inside workflow
Let’s talk a little bit about the new ETS Inside workflow. As mentioned earlier, the workflow is made simpler and more approachable by the common KNX user.
Same as in the ETS tool, Project is the leading entity in the ETS Inside application. Everything else in the application is correlated to the Project, one way or the other.
When you start the application there is an option to select an existing project or to create a new one (see image above). In beta version, ETS inside supports only one project but this will be changed in the final version.
You can create new project in two ways: by creating the new project from scratch or, by importing the project from the ETS application. Import of the ETS project is a great feature and this should be the prefered way of creating new projects in the ETS Inside application.
One note regarding the import of the ETS project. ETS inside does not support ETS compatibility mode. I had a project with compatibility mode turned on and this project could not be imported. The only solution in this case was to create a new project.
After selecting the project, main application screen is shown.
On the left side, you can find the buildings layout view. You can use Building layout to select the building part which is of interest to you. This is very important, since the building layout and selected building part are the leading criteria for all other information shown on the screen.
In the middle part of the screen you can find list of KNX devices. As already explained, only devices which are located in the selected building part, are shown.
On the lower part of the screen you can find component which shows the selected building part with its full path. You can interact with this component to navigate through the building layout.
This screen is used for the device handling. You can add new devices to the selected building part or you can delete existing devices.
To add a new KNX device, online product database is used. This is great. You don’t need to worry about product databases (find it on the internet, download and import into ETS). Just search for the device you want to add, and add it to the building part.
When you select a KNX device, device properties screen is shown. You can change some basic information about the device here. You can change the Name of the device and also the Description.
Individual address is automatically assigned to the device when the device is added to the project. Assigned individual address can be validated. Besides validation, there is nothing that you can do with the individual address of the device.
At this point, I wish you best of luck with the individual address validation and its result. If there is a problem during validation, I have no idea what you can do to fix the problem. During my initial testing of the ETS Inside, individual address validation never failed. Maybe they have created this feature perfect and it will always work (but I seriously doubt this 🙂 ).
You can use Device parameters screen to change functioning parameters of the KNX device. This screen works the same was as device parameters screen in the ETS application.
Device parameters screen has one great feature. Show changes action will highlight all the parameters that are changed, compared to the default values. This is great little feature that can save you a lot of time when you are not sure which parameters you have configured to get the wanted behavior.
After the device is configured, the parameters can be downloaded to the device. Download functionality is improved. You have only one option to download the parameters. The application decides if full Download with physical address or Partial download is required. This is so much better that having 5 or 6 options in the ETS professional and you have no ideas when a certain option should be used.
Assigning Group addresses
There is another important feature of the KNX device handling that is also available in the ETS Inside application. ETS inside can be used to assign group addresses to device endpoints.
Similar like all the other features in the ETS Inside, group address assignment is implemented with simple workflow in mind. And similar to all other features, because of this decision, it comes with some drawbacks.
For selected KNX device, you can select endpoint you want to assign a group address to. List of already linked group address will be shown. There is an option to link a new group address to selected endpoint. When this option is executed, list of available group addresses is shown and you can select group address that you want to link.
I could not find any way to create a new group address. Existing group addresses from imported ETS project are available and can be used. But, you cannot create new group address. For me, this is a major shortcoming of the ETS Inside application. I don’t see a way to use ETS Inside as a stand alone solution, without ETS support, when there is no option to create group address.
There is a single diagnostics mode in the ETS Inside application. This diagnostics functionality is similar to the group address monitoring in the ETS application.
Diagnostics mode can be activated in two states:
- Device diagnostics,
- Full traffic diagnostics.
Device diagnostics is activated when diagnostics function is activated when there is a certain KNX device selected. In this case, only traffic used by selected device will be shown in the application.
This is a nice feature which, I believe, will be frequently used. There can be a lot of traffic in the KNX network. By first selecting a certain KNX device, and then activating the diagnostics mode, first level of telegram filtering is executed.
Full traffic diagnostics works the same way as group diagnostics in the ETS. All telegram that are received from the KNX network are shown to the user.
There is a filter option in the diagnostics screen. Same as in ETS application, this is very rudimentary function and does not provide enough value. There are solutions in the market that are used for KNX network monitoring which have excellent filtering options (for example PNX Monitor from PEAKnx).
Edit function is another function which is available on all the screens in the ETS Inside application. It is a context function. This means that available options are dependant on the screen that is currently being displayed on the screen.
When you press the edit button, available options are shown in the lower part of the screen. First, you need to select an object on which desired action will be executed. After that, you can execute a desired action.
For example, you want to delete a KNX device. You need to go to the building part which holds the KNX device. Then you need to activate the Edit action, select device you want to delete and press the Delete button.
As you can see, you need to do a lot of clicking to do a simple delete of the KNX device. Because of this I don’t like the Edit feature. It just isn’t user friendly.
- New design approach, minimalistic and targeted to less experienced users and end users (inhabitants of the KNX installation),
- Great design look and feel,
- Touch screen friendly,
- Show changed KNX device parameters option,
- Diagnostics per device and all traffic,
- Smart device parameters download option.
- ETS inside does not support projects with compatibility mode used (in this case new project without compatibility mode needs to be created),
- ETS Inside does not support devices with custom application for device parameters setup,
- Only Buildings view is supported (Topology view and Group addresses view are not supported),
- There is no option to create new Group address,
- Cannot change physical address used by device,
- Edit functionality is not user friendly, too much clicking is needed to execute a simple delete action,
- Keyboard actions are not supported (for example delete button on the keyboard cannot be used to delete selected KNX device).
ETS inside is an interesting concept. It has completely changed user experience compared to the ETS application. It is simple and easy to use. It can even be used by KNX installation inhabitants which have no knowledge about the KNX inner workings.
This being said, simplicity comes with the price. There are a lot of features missing which will be missed by the KNX installers and system integrators. I don’t see a use case where the ETS Inside can be used instead of the ETS Professional application.
But the ETS Inside can be used as ETS application extension. ETS Inside comes with a pretty low price tag. This opens a possible use case for the ETS Inside. It can be used by KNX installers as an application which will run in their customers installations. It can be used to perform minor changes on the KNX installation requested by the customers.
ETS Inside is still in the Beta phase. We will see what the future will bring. But, with first tests behind us, we know that this is an interesting concept and that we need to keep an eye on the future releases.