Copy & Paste the intelligent way

The use of building blocks and libraries are work techniques that have been around as long as the copy function itself. The benefits of these techniques, such as time savings, reusability and guaranteed quality are obvious. In actuality, the benefits depend directly on how comprehensive and consistent the library idea is implemented in a library concept.
For example:

  • Can the user only save and retrieve objects of a specific complexity in libraries?

  • Can the library elements be protected from unauthorized access?

  • Can libraries be integrated in projects or can they be deliberately created to be cross-project by design?

  • How high is the adaptation effort required for the integration of library elements in a project?

The benefits of reusability can only be fully utilized if a library concept combines a very high degree of flexibility with practicality and user-friendliness.
The library concept of the TIA Portal ideally meets these requirements.

Libraries - versions and objects

The libraries can be used to the same extent when creating a control program and when configuring the HMI application. The library can be structured in a user-specific way, according to the requirements of the project. Libraries can contain all types of configuration objects, from simple HMI basic elements and entire screens to completely configured HMI devices. An object that is stored in the library only has to be configured once. Subsequently, it can be reused as often as necessary.

Libraries are available in two versions:

  • Objects that are frequently needed in the current task are stored locally in the project library. The project library is characterized by the fact that it belongs to the project and is opened, closed, but also saved along with it.

  • Objects that are used across projects can be managed in global libraries. Global libraries can be saved on a fileserver, for example, and then be utilized by several users

Libraries contain two basic types of objects:

  • Types are objects that can be centrally modified

  • Copy templates are simple copies of configuration objects

If types are modified, all occurrences of this type in a project are automatically updated by the library management system if the user approves the update. Types are either user-defined data types (HmiUDT) or faceplates. User-defined data types can be used to describe the data of a complex automation object (e.g. motor with status and control values) as a unit. As an interface to a faceplate they reduce the wiring overhead, because, as a result, only one structured tag of the same data type can be assigned to the interface of the block.


Faceplates are created as a group of display and operating objects, so that they can then be used like other screen objects from a library. A faceplate integrates itself into a project via its interface. Only the user-defined properties that are important for the block to function during runtime are set at this interface. The user then only has to deal with this concentrated interface in order to define the dynamic properties of the block and the screen objects it contains. The central modification capability also improves the error correction at this point or the subsequent expansion of previously used instances of the faceplate.

WinCC already provides a large number of scalable and dynamizable objects in standard HMI libraries:

  • „Buttons and Switches“ provides a large selection of pre-configured switches and buttons

  • "Monitoring and Control objects" contains more complex operating and display objects in several designs, including the associated control lamps, buttons and switches

  • Finally, the "HMI Symbol Library" contains a number of technological and industry-specific objects such as pipes, motors, valves, etc. for displaying machines and plants.