Attendees at ISOBUS Plugfest in Liconln Nebraska
Photo: Korey Kautzman

Rookie no more, I’m two days into my first ISOBUS AEF Plugfest experience.  It’s close to what I expected but as with all things I made some assumptions that turned out to be incorrect.  No description or story of an event can fully prepare you for something, and Plugfest is no exception.  That’s not to say what I’m about to share of my experience thus far won’t be of any help to future would-be attendees, so keep reading.

First thing first, the vast majority of attendees are engineers and technical individuals, not salesmen.  I knew this going in, but part of me still expected “booths” with large professionally printed company logos and free branded merchandise like what you find at a trade expo.  This was not the case.  A lot of networking does occur though.  Plugfest is a great way to meet new industry contacts and build professional relationships in the ISOBUS realm.

What I saw instead of booths, in the downtown Lincoln Embassy Suites Ballroom, was a bunch of ordinary tables with lots of engineers with laptops, and various ISOBUS hardware.  Sessions are timed, and when the bell tolls, it’s time to move on.  Parties on both sides of the plug are responsible for gathering their own data, and asking the right questions in order to glean the most useful information out of a 35 minute session.

DISTek didn’t send me here just to look around though.  Since last summer, between customer projects, I’ve been developing DISTek’s VIRTEC Task Controller Client API.  The core of the TCC incorporates the same foundational layer that’s under the hood of our VIRTEC VT Client API.  This means a lot of the hard work was already done by my fellow DISTekians.  What I added on top of that layer was all the Task Controller specific message handling and subsystems.  During development I had access to only one specific Task Controller on the bus so Plugfest presented the perfect opportunity to identify issues that are easily overlooked when testing against a single device only.

One such issue presented itself at the very first session.  A device in my device description object pool was referencing an object that it didn’t need to. The task controller I used in my lab for development didn’t seem to care about this at all. Neither did some of the TCs encountered at other stations, but some did, and that’s interesting.  Plugfest is a great place to identify gray areas in the ISOBUS standard.  Some parts may leave room for interpretation, and the person interpreting it may not even notice the area is gray.

Two out of three days completed and I’ve learned quite a bit already.  I’ve already made some small yet beneficial code updates.  I’m looking forward to day three.  I haven’t discovered any major issues with my VIRTEC TC client yet, but there are some advanced features I have yet to implement, such as section control.  With added complexity comes added test coverage requirements, and Plugfest is a great way to do that.

Fall Plugfest will be held in Paris, France.  If I or my fellow coworkers have time to implement more features into our VIRTEC Task Controller Client API, and DISTek was willing to send me to Paris, my answer would definitely be “oui”.  Simply put, if your company is developing ISOBUS solutions, Plugfest is an opportunity you cannot afford to miss.