Dynamic Labelling Technology

Dynamic Labelling Technology

  1. daniel
    About DLT Units

    DLT Units ( Dynamic Labelling Technology ) contain a graphical display screen which can display a Label in association with each key on the unit. Labels can be a text string, pictographic symbols or a bitmap graphic.

    A quick note about the term “key”. It’s important to clarify that we generally use “key” in reference to C-Bus input keys. In certain C-Bus units these aren’t always synonymous with physical keys, and this is the case with DLT Units. The DLT product has eight input keys ( or “virtual keys” ), and at any one time either input keys 1 to 4 or input keys 5 to 8 are shown on the display screen. The unit itself has five physical keys, four of which control the input keys currently displayed, and the fifth physical key is used to cycle to the other set of four input keys.

    Each unit can display its Labels in up to eight different languages, and you can broadcast a language setting to the network to cause all DLTs on the network to switch their display to that language. The eight languages for a network can be selected from a list of more than 65 international languages. It’s worth noting that the Chinese language can select from 91 common Chinese terms pre-programmed into the unit.

    About DLT Broadcasting

    Dynamic Labelling uses a one-way broadcast system to transfer Labels to all DLT units on a Network. For commissioning, this works very differently to the usual communications between Toolkit and C-Bus units. It makes the assignment of labels to groups very fast when doing many DLT switches and it opens up the ability to have labels change on the fly (and although there are no Clipsal products which do that, they are coming).

    You can also turn off the "Dynamic" part of the labels, which means that the unit allows a fixed label to be applied to each button. Once those labels have been set with Toolkit, they won't change, even if some neat future product is trying to change the labels of the groups associated with those keys.

    It is *not* possible to retrieve the Labels already stored on a unit. For this reason, when you scan a new Network with DLT units into Toolkit, you will NOT see the current Labels from those DLT units in the Language Editor. The Group Labels will always appear to be blank. This is another reason why it's important to maintain a database instance of your networks.

    Getting Started

    We’ll assume that you have at least one DLT unit. If not, you can always work with a database instance, though it’s not quite as cool! (To create a database instance of a DLT Unit: select the Units node of your network, choose Add Unit, enter a Unit Code of “KEYML5” and Ok. Enter any Serial and Name you like). We’ll also assume that you have your network already scanned and transferred to a database, ie. your network and database views are nicely in sync, though again this is not necessary. It would also be an advantage for you to know your way around a Neo, Saturn or Reflection Unit, and be familiar with their dialogs.

    DLT Unit Dialog

    Before we get into Languages and Labels, let’s check out the DLT Unit. Select a DLT unit in either view and choose to “Edit Unit”.

    You’ll see a dialog that looks very similar to the Neo Unit dialogs, and for good reason – the firmwares are very similar, though there are a number of important differences. The first one you’ll notice is that the keys are arranged vertically, with keys 1 to 4 on the left and keys 5 to 8 on the right. This is to reflect the physical design of the unit with the eight keys arranged in two pages of four and one page being controlled at a time.

    The Unit Identification, Power Fail, Key Functions and Scenes tabs are essentially unchanged from their Neo counterparts.

    Global tab

    DLT units don’t have infra-red but they’ve acquired the ability to have their keys disabled by a Group on the Application, very effective for public areas or child lock implementations. IMPORTANT : Also ensure that the “Dynamic Labelling” option is checked, because otherwise the unit will not recognise the Labels you send to it. (Note : Early units were released with this option set Unchecked in the factory - there were not many released that way and it was back in 2004.)

    Blocks tab

    You no longer need to worry about the indicator block assignment, as they are automatically slaved to the key next to them.

    Indicators tab

    A number of changes here (see the screenshot above). The “Change brightness after a key is pressed” option has been tweaked into a “Key Press Activity” concept, where pressing a key is followed by an Activity Period during which the indicator brightness is changed. In addition you may choose to have the DLT unit fall back to displaying the first page after this period ends.

    Screen Options allow the display to show or hide the level sliders or the clock, as well as inverting the display to its negative image of white on black. (Note: The Clock function requires some other unit (e.g. C-Touch) to issue Time commands on the C-Bus Time & Date Application, the Toolkit software does not yet have the capability to issue these commands).

    The indicator nightlight can be activated separately on the four group-based keys and the page key, and the page key indicator can also be permanently on or off. Indicators are blue only (like Reflection) and their style can be configured separately for each of the eight input keys.

    Scene Modify Keys

    The eagle eyed among you would have already seen a new Function option “Scene Modify” in the Key Function combo boxes. This new feature allows detailed control (including ramping!) of Scenes. A Scene Modify Key always applies to the most recent Scene operated by a Scene Key. For a Scene Modify Key you can select virtually any On/Off, Ramping, Timer or Recall type function that you can on a normal Group Key.

    To give a common example (as displayed in the screenshot above), you could set up Keys 1 and 2 to operate Scenes 1 and 2. Keys 3 and 4 would be Scene Modify Keys, with functions of “On Up” and “Off Down” respectively. After pressing Key 1 to invoke Scene 1, you can then use Keys 3 and 4 to control all the groups in that Scene. If you subsequently press Key 2 to invoke Scene 2, then Keys 3 and 4 would now apply to Scene 2.

    The impact of this feature requires a Scene Key or a Scene Modify Key to now be associated with exactly one block, and that block is disabled from use by other keys. (Note : In other words it’s no longer possible to use the dangling Group on a Scene Key’s block for other nefarious purposes! Naughty!)

    That pretty much wraps up the DLT Unit Dialog. You’ll notice there’s no mention of Labels or Languages in this dialog. That’s because Dynamic Labelling is performed at a Network level, and not a Unit-by-Unit level. Don’t worry we’ll cover that in the next section.

    Tutorial : Dynamic Labelling Technology

    Language Editor

    First there?s something we must do in the current software if we want to work with the physical DLT units. That?s as simple as browsing to the Units node and ensuring that the network is open, that it has been scanned and that the DLT Units are present in the network view. You do need to do this each time you start the Toolkit before working with Labels. (Note: We?re still considering ways to make this step unnecessary)

    While you?re there you should check your DLT units and ensure you have some keys with Groups selected. Otherwise you won?t be able to apply Labels to those keys.

    Now in the Project Manager select the Network node.

    The ?Edit Languages? button on the right hand side will launch the Dynamic Labelling Technology dialog.


    On the left side is a treeview of Languages and Applications. Currently there are two languages, English and Chinese which are automatically created for every new Network. Lets choose some more languages for our network? select the ?Edit Languages? button under this treeview.

    You can select from a list of supported languages, up to a maximum of eight for the network. Try selecting a few more languages and using the ?>? button to add them to the network. Click OK when finished.

    We?ve added a few more languages to the list. If you expand a Language node, you?ll see under that node a list of all the Applications in the Network. As you select one of these Applications, the list of Groups on the right hand side will change to reflect that Application. For this tutorial we?ll work with the Lighting application, though you can of course apply Labels to groups in other applications.

    Group Labels

    Now, if your network is open and scanned, then the ?Save Labels? | ?Network? option should already be checked. This indicates that you can save Labels to the physical unit. If only the Database option is checked, then you?ll need to go back and scan your network.

    If you remembered to set some Groups on your DLT Unit, you should see those Groups visible now

    The option ?Only show Groups used in DLT Units? is checked by default. This ensures that only those Groups found on DLT units in the database and network views are displayed, which is ideal for working with live networks. In some cases you may wish to set up Languages and Labels before you have DLT units to apply them to, and you would need to uncheck this option in order to display all known Groups for the Application.

    Editing Text Labels

    Let?s edit some group Labels for the English language (see above screenshot). Just select the empty field beneath the ?Text? type combobox for each Group and type in a Name, up to 14 characters. The "Text" combobox may also contain other options, but we'll come to those later.

    You?ll notice that making changes to the Labels for a Group causes the panel for that group to change colour slightly. You can commit your changes to the database, the network or both by going to the ?Save Labels? box and selecting the ?Save? button. Whenever you choose a different context by selecting another Application or a different Language, you?ll also be prompted to save any changes you?ve made.

    Try saving some Labels now. After you?ve entered some English Labels, ensure that the database and network save options are both checked, and hit the Save button. If all goes well, you?ll see a progress bar during the network save. If your DLT unit hasn?t updated its display it could well have received the data, it may just be set to some other language.

    Changing Language

    Select the ?English? node in the treeview, and hit the ?Set Default? button. This sends a command to all DLT units on the network to switch to the English language. You?ll also see a green tick next to the English language in the treeview, indicating the most recently selected Language. Note : The currently selected language in the Toolkit software does NOT always reflect the currently selected language on the unit. It may be necessary to use the ?Set Default? button again if the configuration of the units or network changes.


    At this point you should be able to switch the Language of the unit, and save text Labels to the unit. You?ll also see how the page (fifth) key changes between groups 1 to 4 and groups 5 to 8. Now?s a good time to play with the DLT Unit Dialog and see how the display and indicator options work. When you're ready, in the next section we'll (finally!) be working with Graphical Labels. :D

    Tutorial : Dynamic Labelling Technology

    Predefined Icon Labels

    If you haven?t already, select the Chinese language and the Lighting application. The Chinese language is unique in that it supports Predefined Icons which have already been loaded into the unit at the factory. Working with predefined Labels is very similar to your previous editing of text Labels. Ensure that for a group, the ?Predefined Icon? option is selected, and then choose a item from the drop down list of more than 90 common home automation phrases. The graphic of your choice will be shown to the right.

    After you?ve set some Chinese labels hit the Save button to commit these to the unit and then select the ?Set Default? button to switch the unit?s Language to Chinese. At this point you should see your Chinese labels on the unit.

    A couple of important points to note :
    • The actual Chinese graphics are not transmitted to the unit, they are already stored there. So you cannot just edit the Chinese graphics in C:\Clipsal\{Toolkit Dir}\images\DLTP\ as this will have no effect! These graphics are for Toolkit display purposes only.
    • The English text labels that you previously saved are still stored in the unit. If you set the language to English and then back to Chinese you will see the labels on the screen change.
    Okay, let?s move on to the fun part!

    Dynamic Icon Labels

    Lets select a new language, it doesn?t matter which one. I?ve chosen Icelandic. Now it defaults to the ?Text? type, so pick any Group and change it?s ?Text? type to ?Dynamic Icon?. Beneath this option a combobox will appear, but it seems to be blank. That?s because we need to create some dynamic icons for the project. Time to launch the Graphics Manager. In the very bottom left of the dialog, click the ?Graphics?? button.

    Graphics Manager

    What are those terms, Master Gallery and Project Gallery? Well, we need to consider the possibility that a Toolkit user may maintain a single collection of DLT graphics on their computer, and move from installation to installation, uploading just the graphics they need for that network.

    Master Gallery

    The Master Gallery is the collection of graphics that is stored with Toolkit on the user?s computer. No matter where you are or what C-Gate Server you are working with, the Master Gallery will always be there. In the Master Gallery you can create a new graphic, edit a graphic or create a copy of a graphic. You can also delete them (if you?re a really bad artist!)

    The default Toolkit install comes with a pretty bare Master Gallery (we?re hoping to build the default gallery up with useful example graphics, suggestions welcome) but it?s so easy to create new ones. Click on the ?New? button.

    This dialog allows you to edit a graphic. Type in a description, and use the mouse to draw on the white canvas. After you?ve splashed it with a few lines, hit the OK button. Your new graphic will appear in the Master Gallery.

    Now, the graphic editor is pretty basic (Ok, it sucks!). You?re probably more comfortable in Paintshop Pro, Photoshop, or even Windows Paintbrush. No problem. Launch your favourite graphic program and make yourself some graphics. Here are the requirements :

    Graphic Format : Windows/OS2 Bitmap (.bmp extension)
    Colour Palette : 2 (monochrome, black and white)
    Dimensions : 62 pixels wide by 16 pixels high

    Save them to a convenient location. Now jump back to the Graphics Manager in the Toolkit, and hit the ?New? button again. In the Graphic Editor, use the ?Load? button. You?ll be able to navigate to your newly created graphics and select one. Hit OK, and you?ll see your graphic loaded into the Editor. Hit Ok to save it and you?ll see it?s been placed in your Master Gallery.

    (For reference and backup purposes, the Master Gallery folder is C:\Clipsal\{Toolkit Dir}\images\DLTD\ , but we do NOT recommend placing graphics in there directly as the program will not recognise them. Always use the Load button in the editor.)

    When you have a few graphics in your Master Gallery, let?s move on.

    Project Gallery

    The Project Gallery contains the graphics stored against the currently selected Project on the currently connected Project Repository (C-Gate Server). As you move from project to project, you?ll need to define the graphics available to each project.

    Note : These graphics are stored on the C-Gate Server, and will be available to any Toolkit that connects to that Server. You may have C-Gate Server and Toolkit on the same machine, but this is not always the case.

    You?ll see that the Project Gallery has considerably fewer options. You can import a Graphic from the Master Gallery to the Project Gallery. If you?ve connected to a Project and it has graphics that you don?t have in your Master Gallery, you can Export those graphics back to your Master Gallery. You can use Windows multi-select (shift-click or ctrl-click) to import or export a number of graphics at once.

    You may also Delete a graphic from the Project Gallery. Note that if you delete a Project Gallery graphic that you imported from the Master Gallery, deleting the instance in the Project Gallery will not delete the original graphic in the Master Gallery.

    For now, lets import all of our Master Gallery graphics to the Project Gallery. When you?ve done that you can preview the graphics by selecting each one, the preview of that graphic will be shown below the list. Click OK in the Graphics Manager to return to the Languages Editor.

    Dynamic Icon Labels (Again)

    Now return to that blank combo for the ?Dynamic Icon? type. Your Project Gallery graphics are now listed in that combo. Choose one and the graphic will be displayed alongside. Set up a few groups with Dynamic Icon labels. In my example, I?ve defined both Text labels and Dynamic Icon labels (and I apologise for injury to the Icelandic language)

    Alright! The moment of truth. Save your changes. Due to the broadcast nature of Dynamic Labelling and depending on the quality of network communications, your unit may not pick up all the changes, so just perform the save again. And don't forget to click "Set Default" to set your unit to the Icelandic language.

    And if it all worked, congratulations! You now have the ability to display anything you like on your DLT Units.