CIF PLC code generator
The CIF PLC code generator can be used to generate Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) code, for the implementation of CIF controllers on PLCs. The generated PLC code adheres to the IEC 61131-3 standard, a widely used international standard for PLC programming languages.
Starting the generator
The generator can be started in the following ways:
In Eclipse, right click a
.ciffile in the Project Explorer tab or Package Explorer tab and choose .
In Eclipse, right click an open text editor for a
.ciffile and choose .
cif2plctool in a ToolDef script. See the scripting documentation and tools overview page for details.
cif2plccommand line tool.
Besides the general application options, this application has the following options:
Input file: The absolute or relative local file system path to the input CIF specification.
Output file: The absolute or relative local file system path to the output file. Depending on the output type, this is either a file or a directory. The default depends on the output type as well.
PLC code output type: The PLC code output type specifies the type of output (essentially the file format) that should be generated.
PLC task name: The name of the PLC task to generate. If not specified, defaults to
PLC task cycle time: If periodic task scheduling is to be used, use this option to enable it, by setting the cycle time in milliseconds for the task to generate. The cycle time must be a positive integer number. Cycle times of over a minute may not work as expected. However, since such large cycle times are of little practical use, that should not be a problem. Disable this option to disable periodic task scheduling. This option defaults to periodic task scheduling with a cycle time of 10 milliseconds. Disabling periodic task scheduling is not supported for the TwinCAT output type.
PLC task priority: The scheduling priority of the task to generate. The priority must be in the range [0 .. 65535], where priority 0 is the highest priority, and priority 65535 is the lowest priority. The priority can be used for preemptive or non-preemptive scheduling. If not specified, the priority defaults to 20.
PLC project name: The name of the PLC project to generate. If not specified, defaults to
PLC configuration name: The name of the PLC configuration to generate. If not specified, defaults to
PLC resource name: The name of the PLC resource to generate. If not specified, defaults to
PLC number bits: The maximum number of bits supported by the PLC for representing numeric values. Use 64-bit if supported by the PLC, for full CIF compatibility, and the highest accuracy. If the PLC does not supported 64-bit integer and floating point numbers, set this option to 32-bit. Use the automatic option to automatically select the maximum number of bits depending on the output type. For the PLCopen XML, IEC 61131-3 and TwinCAT output types, the automatic option is 64-bits. For the S7 output type, see the table on the S7 page.
PLC maximum iterations: The maximum number of iterations of the main loop of the main program body, per execution of the main program body. Must be a positive number. May be set to infinite, to not impose a restriction. The default is set to at most 100 iterations. See the section on the program body for more information.
Formal function invocation (arguments based): Specifies for which functions to use formal invocation syntax in the generated PLC code. By default the formal syntax is used for none of the functions. For PLC implementations that don’t support the non-formal syntax, the formal syntax can be used for all functions, or only for functions with more than one argument.
Formal function invocation (function kind based): Specifies for which functions to use formal invocation syntax in the generated PLC code. By default the formal syntax is used only for all but the standard library/conversion functions. This can be changed to only the standard library/conversion functions, or to all functions.
Eliminate enumerations: Enable this option to eliminate enumerations (by converting them to integers) before generating the actual PLC code, in case the PLC doesn’t support enumerations. Disable this option to keep enumerations in the generated PLC code. By default this option is disabled. This option is deprecated. Use the Convert enumerations option instead.
Convert enumerations: Specifies whether enumerations should be converted before generating the actual PLC code, in case the PLC doesn’t support enumerations. Enumerations can be converted to integers or constants. By default enumerations are not converted. This option has no effect if the Eliminate enumerations option is enabled.
Simplify values: Enable this option to simplify values and inline constants during generation of the PLC code. The benefit is that static computations are evaluated, and for the result simpler PLC code is generated. This applies to both the original model as well as anything generated during the code generation, for instance as the result of linearization. Constants created by Convert enumerations are not inlined. Enabling the option may thus lead to simpler PLC code. However, the simplification itself may take quite some time. Furthermore, as constants are inlined, they are duplicated for each use. If a constant with a large value (such as a large literal array) is used multiple times, this can lead to significantly larger PLC code. By default this option is enabled.
Rename warnings: Enable this option to print warnings to the console when a PLC name is renamed due to a conflict with another PLC name, or disable it to omit the warnings. The option is disabled by default. See the section on names for more information.
Formal function invocation syntax (e.g.
MIN(IN1:3, IN2:5)) is used in the generated PLC code only for those functions that are included by both the Formal function invocation (arguments based) option and the Formal function invocation (function kind based) option. If either of the options excludes the function, the non-formal function invocation syntax (e.g.
MIN(3, 5)) is used for that function. Note that for invocations of function blocks, the generated PLC code always uses the formal syntax. Furthermore, for certain standard library functions, only the non-formal syntax is defined by the standard, and thus used in the generated PLC code.
The CIF PLC code generator supports a subset of CIF specifications. The following restrictions apply:
Unrestricted events are not supported, as they can always be executed (are always enabled), and would lead to infinitely running PLC code. Detection of unrestricted events however, is incomplete. That is, for some unrestricted the code generation results in an error, while for other unrestricted events code is generated without any warnings or errors. See the Program body section for more information.
Specifications without automata are not supported.
Initialization predicates outside locations are not supported, except if it can be determined statically that they are trivially
State invariants (in components as well as locations) are not supported, except if it can be determined statically that they are trivially
Discrete variables with multiple initial values (including
any) are not supported.
External user-defined functions are not supported.
Urgent locations are not supported.
Initialization predicates in locations that can not be statically evaluated are not supported.
Automata that do not have exactly one initial location are not supported.
Urgent edges are not supported.
User-defined functions without parameters are not supported.
Internal user-defined functions that contain a multi-assignment that assigns multiple (non-overlapping) parts of a single variable are not supported. For instance,
a, a := 1, 2is not supported, as multiple parts (the first and second element) of array
aare assigned in a single multi-assignment. This restriction applies only to multi-assignments in functions, not to multi-assignments on edges.
Internal user-defined functions that contain a
continuestatement are not supported.
Data types other than
int(with or without range),
real, enumerations, tuples, and arrays, are not supported. This applies to the data types of variables, parameters of functions, return types of functions, etc. For the S7 output type, arrays are not supported.
String values are not supported.
realand casts that don’t change the type, are supported. All other casts are not supported.
Sampling of distributions is not supported.
The use of the conjunction and disjunction binary operators on anything other than boolean values is not supported.
The use of the equality and inequality binary operators on anything other than boolean, integer, real, or enumeration values is not supported.
The use of the addition and subtraction binary operators on anything other than integer or real values is not supported.
The use of the element test and subset binary operators is not supported.
Projection on anything other than tuples and arrays is not supported. This applies to expressions as well as addressables (the left hand sides of assignments). For arrays, both 0-based indices (counting from the left) as well as negative indices (counting from the right) are supported.
Slicing is not supported.
Function calls on anything other than standard library functions and internal user-defined functions is not supported.
tanhstandard library functions are not supported.
The distribution standard library functions are not supported.
Lists (except for arrays), sets, and dictionaries are not supported. For the S7 output type, arrays are not supported.
The use of functions as values is not supported. That is, functions may only be used in function calls, and may for instance not be stored in variables.
I/O declarations are ignored. A warning is printed if a CIF/SVG input declaration is encountered.
The following CIF to CIF transformations are applied as preprocessing (in the given order), to increase the subset of CIF specifications that can be transformed:
Simplify values (if Simplify values option is enabled)
Eliminate constants (if Simplify values option is enabled)
After these preprocessing steps, the generator checks whether the specification is supported. It then applies the following additional CIF to CIF transformations:
Simplify values (if Simplify values option is enabled)
Convert enumerations to integers (if Convert enumerations option is set to integers or if Eliminate enumerations is enabled)
Convert enumerations to constants (if Convert enumerations option is set to constants)
The PLC code that is generated complies with the second edition (from 2003) of the IEC 61131-3 standard. The code does not use any vendor specific extensions, functions, etc.
For the TwinCAT output type,
STRUCT data type declarations have no
; character after the
STRUCT data types, to work around a bug in the TwinCAT parser. In that case the output is not compliant with the IEC 61131-3 standard.
For the S7 output type, persistent variables are stored in a separate database file, named
DB. All references to persistent variables are prefixed with
"DB".. Global variables and constants are stored in a tag table, instead of a global variable list. In those cases the output is not compliant with the IEC 61131-3 standard.
Generated PLC code
The bodies of the programs and functions in the generated PLC code use Structured Text as programming language. Structured Text is one of the programming languages that is part of the IEC 61131-1 standard.
The generated code contains a single program called
MAIN. This program is instantiated in a task, which is part of a resource, which in turn is part of a configuration. The configuration is put in a project, but that is outside the range of the IEC 61131-3 standard. Most implementations however, work with projects. The effect of the project, configuration, resource, and task is dependent on the output type. Besides a program, the code generator also generates data types, functions, and global variables.
For algebraic variables, functions are generated that are parametrized over the state of the system. Similarly, functions are generated for the derivatives of the continuous variables. For the discrete and continuous variables (including variable
STRUCT data type named
STATE is generated that holds the entire state of the system (or more precisely, the state of the CIF specification). For input variables, an
INPUTS global variables list/file is generated. For constants (if Simplify values option is disabled), a
CONSTS global variables list/file is generated.
For invalid CIF specifications, the resulting code may not always behave as the original CIF code. For instance, the ranges of integer types are ignored by the code generator. Furthermore,
mod by zero in CIF results in a runtime error, while in the generated code it results in zero. Out of bound projection indices of arrays may for instance have the effect that the closest existing element is used instead, and the result may even be implementation dependent. There are other such differences as well.
Little to no effort is put into generating readable code. That is, the generated is not meant to be inspected. The generated code is also not intended to be modified directly. Instead, the original CIF models should be modified, and from them new PLC code should be generated. Examples of non-readable code include the generated names, and code generated for expressions (which has way more parentheses than strictly necessary).
The generated PLC code will contain names for functions, variables, locations of automata, etc. The absolute names of all objects are used. The names are influenced by the linearization algorithm. They are further influenced by the PLC code generator.
The code generator ensures unique names in the generated PLC code, taking into account the reserved names (keywords, standard functions, etc) of the IEC 61131-3 standard and some of the common implementations of that standard. To avoid reserved names, names are prefixed with prefixes that depend on the type of object (for instance,
dvar_ for discrete variables). Furthermore, it takes into account that names in CIF are case sensitive, while they are case insensitive in IEC 61131-3. The code generator computes a candidate name based on these criteria.
If this results in duplicate names, renaming is performed. A common reason for renaming is different locations (of the same automaton or of different automata) that have the same name, but in different casing. For instance, consider one location named
WaitForTimeout and another named
WaitForTimeOut. After linearization, there is an enumeration with a literal for each unique location name. The enumeration thus has at least two literals, named
WaitForTimeOut. The candidate names for these enumeration literals are
elit_WaitForTimeOut. However, they are identical except for casing. Thus, the first one that is encountered during code generation gets the candidate name, and the second one is renamed. This results in a warning like this:
WARNING: PLC variable "elit_WaitForTimeout" is renamed to "elit_WaitForTimeout2".
Renaming may be needed to ensure valid functioning output. However, it may make it slightly more difficult to trace names in the generated PLC code back to the original CIF model. Also, in the PLC environment, when debugging the current values of variables may be shown. If enumeration literals are renamed, the renamed names may then be shown in the debugger. By default, the PLC code generator does not inform the user when renaming takes place. By enabling the Rename Warnings option, a warning will be printed to the console, each time a PLC name is renamed.
The body of the
MAIN program consists of several parts. The
MAIN program is executed exactly once per cycle, by the PLC. The following parts are present, and are executed in order:
Time and cycle time handling.
Initialization of the initial state, for the first cycle only.
Updating of the continuous variables for the time that has passed since the previous cycle, for all but the first cycle.
A loop that executes events for as long as they are possible.
The code automatically determines the cycle time that is used, in a manner that does not require any vendor specific extensions, functions, or data types. The generated code works for fixed cycle times (periodic task scheduling) as well as variable cycle times (non-periodic tasks).
During the first cycle, the variables of the state are initialized to their proper values. For subsequent cycles, the state resulting from the previous cycle is reused, where the values of the continuous variables are updated to account for the time that has passed since the beginning of the previous cycle. For details on the method used to update the values of the continuous variables, see the Accuracy over time section.
The loop at the end of the body evaluates the guard of each of the events of the CIF specification. If a guard holds, the corresponding update is performed. Code is generated for the events, or rather the edges, in the order that they occur in the linearized CIF specification. Linearization is performed in such a way, that the PLC code that is generated from it, has a correspondence to the simulator. Assuming the simulator is used to simulate by always automatically choosing the first transition that is enabled, the PLC code will choose that same transition. That is, for each iteration of the event loop, the code is executed for the first event with an enabled guard. Then, a new iteration of the loop is started, from the top, to ensure that the first enabled event is always executed, similar to simulation. If during an iteration of the loop none of the events is enabled, the loop terminates.
If at least one event was enabled, the loop is executed again. If during an iteration of the loop none of the edges was enabled, the loop terminates. This approach generally does not result in predictable execution times of the program body. That is, if a certain edge keeps being enabled, the loop is executed over an over again. In that case, the execution time of the body exceeds the fixed cycle time, and the controller is no longer guaranteed to work correctly. Even if the loop is only executed a finite number of times, the execution time of the body may exceed the fixed cycle time. One may consider monitoring the execution times to detect such issues.
Within the 'event loop', a counter is used to detect how often the loop is repeated. After the loop is executed a 100 times, the loop is terminated, to ensure that the body terminates in the case of events that are always possible. In such a cases, variable
loopsKilled is incremented by one, for debugging. While by default the loop is terminated after 100 iterations, this maximum number of iterations can be configured using the PLC maximum iterations option (Generator category). The option can also be set to infinite, to not impose a restriction, and never terminate the loop due to too many iterations. See also the Options section above.
Obviously, similar to the fact that the controller cannot guarantee its correct behavior if the execution time of a cycle exceeds the cycle time, the controller also cannot guarantee its correct behavior if the inputs from the external I/O change more rapidly than the cycle time. That is, if an input changes during a cycle, the change is not noticed until the next cycle. If an input changes during a cycle and changes back during that same cycle, the change is not noticed at all. Therefore, choosing an appropriate cycle time is essential for the correct functioning of the controller.
Accuracy over time
The generated code maintains the running time in seconds, by adding the cycle time to current running time, on each cycle. Due to the finite binary representation of real values, this results in loss of a accuracy over prolonged periods of execution time. As such, the use of variable
time in CIF models is highly discouraged.
However, for a cycle time of one millisecond, while there may be loss of accuracy, time should keep increasing for at least several thousand years. After that, adding the cycle time may no longer increase the value of the variable, potentially resulting in unexpected execution behavior.
The continuous variables from the CIF specification are updated each cycle using the Euler method for integration. That is, each cycle the cycle time is multiplied by the derivative of the continuous variable in the state of the previous cycle. This value is added to the value of the continuous variable. Essentially, a linear approximation of the derivative is used, calculated using the state of the previous cycle.
The Euler method can be numerically unstable, can suffer from rounding errors due to the use finite binary representations of real values, and has some other issues as well. The effects are likely to be limited if linear continuous variable (continuous variables with constant derivatives) are used. Especially clocks (derivative +1 or -1) generally don’t suffer too much from these issues. However, even clocks may suffer from loss of accuracy over time. As such, clocks should not be used to measure over long periods of time. Instead they should be reset, rendering the past loss of accuracy irrelevant for any future measurements.
For all variables in the state of the CIF specification, except for variable
time, PLC variables are generated with a
%Q* address, to ensure they can be used as output variables, and can potentially be coupled to output ports. The state is maintained in a variable
state0, a persistent local variable of the
MAIN program. For the S7 output type, no output addresses are generated. Instead, new output variables should be declared in a tag table. Values can be assigned to the new output variables at the end of the main program.
For all input variables of the CIF specification, a PLC variable is generated with a
%I* addresses, to ensure they can be used as input variables, and can potentially be coupled to input ports. These variables are generated in a global variables list/file named
The actual coupling to hardware addresses is something that is left to the implementation of the PLC programming environment.
PLC output type
The PLC code generator can generate its output in multiple forms (file formats) depending on the output type. The output type can be configured using the PLC code output type option (Generator category). The following output types are currently available:
PLCopen XML (default)
PLCopen XML is an XML-based file format standardized by the PLCopen organization, intended for the exchange of complete projects of PLC code, even across different tools and vendors. The PLCopen XML files generated by the PLC code generator are compliant with version 2.01 of the PLCopen XML standard. By default, if no output file is specified, it defaults to the input file path, where the
.cif file extension is removed (if present), and a
.plcopen.xml file extension is added.
Output in IEC 61131-3 syntax generates multiple files. By default, if no output directory is specified, it defaults to the input file path, where the
.cif file extension is removed (if present), and a
_plc directory extension is added. The
MAIN program gets a
.plcprog file extension, functions get a
.plcfunc file extension, type declarations get a
.plctype file extension, and the configuration gets a
.plccfg file extension. The PLC project name and PLC resource name options have no effect for this output type.
TwinCAT is a complete IDE for the development and testing of PLC controllers. Using the TwinCAT PLC output type, the generated PLC code can be written to the native file formats of the TwinCAT IDE. By default, if no output directory is specified, it defaults to the input file path, where the
.cif file extension is removed (if present), and a
_twincat directory extension is added. See the TwinCAT PLC output page for further details.
The S7 output (1500, 1200, 400 and 300) generates code for SIMATIC controllers. Totally Integrated Automation Portal (TIA Portal) is an IDE for the development and testing of SIMATIC controllers. Using the S7 output, the generated PLC code can be imported in TIA Portal. By default, if no output directory is specified, it defaults to the input file path, where the
.cif file extension is removed (if present), and a
<ver> being either 1500, 1200, 400 or 300) directory extension is added. Output for S7 generates multiple files. The
MAIN programs and functions get a
.scl file extension, type declarations get a
.udt file extension, the persistent variables databases get a
.db file extension, and the global variable lists get a
.xml extension. The PLC task name, PLC task cycle time, PLC task priority, PLC project name, PLC configuration name, and PLC resource name options have no effect for this output type. See the S7 PLC output page for further details.