Keeping TopView healthy

Keeping TopView healthy

Like all software, TopView is running in an environment that is under constant change. OS updates, protocol versions updates, email authentication deprecations, and other things can affect the health of your TopView system.
Even systems off the internet, or behind a DMZ, are occasionally patched or updated.
TopView is transparent about its status! You can see what's going on.
Here are our recommendations for keeping your TopView system running well and knowing when it isn't!

Before running TopView

Make sure you have your TopView data backed up somewhere. You'll never need it... until you really need it.

Test out your notifications

Before running your engine, test your notification methods in the TopView Configurator application to ensure that they work as expected.
You can test all notifications from the Configurator without affecting running engines: email, SMS, or voice call-out.

Verify TopView operation soon after start-up

Often, the issues that prevent TopView from running well are detectable soon after launching the TopView Engine process. As soon as TopView is launched, especially if you are running it as a service, look for the "TopView Health Report" (exclamation point icon near the top bar) in the TopView Configurator application.

If the health report shows issues with the engine, your next step is to check TopView Admin Tools.

TopView Admin Tools exposes current information

More in depth information is available in the TopView Admin Tools application where you can inspect the overview screen and application logs for problems.

The Overview screen will show the status of data server connections, SQL Server, and displays current tag values and alarms. In the application log, look for Warning and Error messages. Most of the major issues, like: server connection or tag resolution issues, port permission problems, or other connectivity issues will appear soon after launch. Following up with them immediately can save a lot of missed notifications and subsequent headaches.

One of the most common errors we see is when the TopView’s service is installed under a user account that lacks enough permissions to connect and read values from the data server. Verifying the TopView process is running and the server is connected in Admin Tools after launch is the easiest way to discover this problem.

Email your team a regular health report

If you have the ability to email from the TopView computer, you can enable sending a health report and set its frequency. This is in the "Outgoing Email" tab > "Email & health settings".

Email your team when there are errors in TopView

With email enabled, activate the “Send errors to default email group” (on by default) feature.

When enabled, errors in TopView (like data source disconnections, will trigger email notifications to the recipients in the default email group. This setting can be found on the Email-SMS General Settings page.

Set up a daily (or regular) test alarm

Receiving a regular notification, especially for customers with shift-based schedules and limited email access, can help prove to the outgoing shift that TopView is monitoring your system and able to make notifications.

Enable this by adding the "i_counter_min_1d" (minute of the day) and alarming on the specific minute of the day, then set up your the desired notification method.

Monitor TopView using TopView!

TopView provides multiple options for monitoring TopView performance and health:

  1. TopView Watchdog Server: TopView will allow other TopView engines to access its running state by monitoring "TopView Watchdog tags". You can set up a second, simpler TopView engine, to monitor and notify when the primary engine is not running ok. The "topview_engine_ok" watchdog tag is a great place to start.
  2. TopView status tags: internal information about the TopView Engine that can be monitored just like tags from your data source (including alarms and notification)
  3. TopView Performance Counters: provides the same information as TopView status tags in a format that can be queried by any application that can monitor Windows Performance Counters including TopView PerfMon
  4. Health output:  a heartbeat signal on the data server (PI, OPC) that TopView updates as it is running
Output heartbeat points and performance counters allow outside entities to check on TopView’s status to ensure that TopView is running well. If the TopView sawtooth or 0-1-0 toggle stops, then you know that something in the system isn’t working as expected.

Lack of server resources are a common issue that can be avoided using the above monitoring techniques.

TopView status tags/performance counters include:
  • "topview_engine_ok": an amalgamation of many TopView status signals (available as a TopView Watchdog tag only)
  • “servers_connected”: Shows a value of “1” if all the servers are connected
  • “error_log_count”: The total number of errors in the application log since the process started
  • “statusnotgood_count”: The number of tags with bad statuses
  • Notification queue sizes and failure counts
  • many others

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