Support and Troubleshooting

This chapter discusses available resources that may be useful in tracking down problems with existing applications or new development projects.

Support Resources

The following resources are available to aid in debugging and troubleshooting efforts.

Online Help

The primary source for PI-SDK information is the online help provided with the PI-SDK. To access the programming help, open the PI SDK Utility, Use the Alt-H help menu and choose the "PISDK Help" (Ctrl-H). To access the user help, open the PI SDK Utility, Use the Alt-H help menu and choose the "PI SDK Utility Help" (F1). PI-SDK help can also be accessed by running hh (the html help executable) directly.

Accessing help from the command line

From a command line or from the Windows Run command, programming help is available by typing:

Accessing help from Visual Basic

While running Visual Basic, add a reference to the PI-SDK library. This only needs to be done once for each project and is a prerequisite for programming with the PI-SDK as well. Select References from the Project menu, then scroll down until you see the item for the PISDK Type Library and check the checkbox next to it then click OK.

Once the reference is added you can access help from the Object Browser or from the code window. To bring up the Object Browser, select Object Browser from the View menu or press F2. In the combo box at the top of the window select PISDK to display only PISDK objects (this is optional). Select an object you wish to know more about from the left pane and press F1 to bring up help for that object. You may also select a method or property from the right pane and press F1 to bring up help for that item.

To access PI-SDK help from a code window, click on a PI-SDK object or method name and press the F1 key. You do not need to select the entire, name, just position the text cursor before the first character or within the name you are interested in. For example if a code line reads:


clicking right before the P in PointAttributes or within the word and pressing F1 brings up help on PointAttributes. Clicking right before the R in ReadOnly or within that word and pressing F1 brings up help on the ReadOnly property. Clicking on the word mypoint and pressing F1, however, will complain of a keyword not found.

Help Contents

The PI-SDK help files provides detailed documentation of each object and collection and the methods and properties of those methods.

When help for an object or collection is displayed there is typically a small diagram at the top of the page showing where the object fits locally in the PI-SDK hierarchy. These display the current object's immediate parents and children. Clicking on the boxes showing the parents or children, will go to the help for that parent or child.

Just above the object picture is a line of small font entries that include the following links: See Also, Example, Properties, Methods, Events, and Applies To. Clicking on one of these text entries produces a drop down menu if the entry contains multiple items or jumps to the  links for entries that refer to a single item.  If these text entries are grayed out it indicates they do not apply in this topic.  Example code is available for most objects. The code is written in Visual Basic and is typically a small stand-alone sample that can be quickly copied and run.

PI-SDK Programming Reference contains the detailed descriptions of each object, method, property and event complete with the required arguments, return types, error returns and examples. At the top of the reference are three topics labeled object models that provide pictures of the PI-SDK hierarchy.  Clicking on an object in these pictures jumps to the topics describing the selected object.  Following these models is an alphabetical listing of all the objects in the PI-SDK .

PITimeServer Help is a separate help file that describes the COM server that provides support for Time objects.  Currently only the PITime object is implemented but the help file describes in detail many more of the objects that have been designed.  This may be of use in planning upcoming projects.  The PITimeServer is intended to work as a standalone server, not requiring the PI-SDK.

PI-SDK Tools Programmer's Help is a separate help system that gives detailed documentation of the SDK Control and Dialogs described in Chapter 6 of this document.

PI-API Programmer's Help is a detailed online reference for programming the PI-API, which can be used standalone or in conjunction with PI-SDK programs.

Restricting Help to PI-SDK Only

The help file, as delivered, includes 4 distinct help files intended for different audiences. The main PI-SDK help files includes the 3 other help systems and the HTML Help viewer, hh.exe, displays these as a fairly seamless unit by combining the contents, indexes, and full text searches. While this is convenient for some uses, the combined help system may present more information than is useful for some tasks. For example, the help system includes the PI-API help but if you are only using the PI-SDK for your application, the clutter of all the PI-API index entries may make searching by index unwieldy.

To remove a particular component help system from the PI-SDK help system, you may either move the component file to a different directory or rename it. Note you can still double click the component help file in Windows Explorer to bring up hh.exe with just that particular component. Likewise you can launch hh.exe with the full pathname of the component help file to view it.

hh "c:\program files\pipc\help\piapi2.chm"

The list of help system component files and their file names is shown below. Typically these files will be installed in the PIHOME\Help subdirectory.

Help component File name

PI-SDK Help (required)


Buffering Help


PITimeServer Help


PI-SDK Tools Programmer's Help


PI-API Programmer's Help



Technical Support

Enabling Operational Intelligence