What Web-Based Kramer Control and Crestron. AV Framework Mean for Automation Programmers

Drag-and-drop control solutions offer opportunities for more scalable deployment of automation, but do they also marginalize value offered by automation programmers?

It’s an interesting time to be an automation programmer.

There is perhaps no position or task more reflective of the custom integration industry. Automation based on each customer’s specific needs, well, that’s exactly what the industry is all about. Integration firms take pride in their number of certified programmers on staff and their levels of certification. Third-party automation programming firms have thrived, providing invaluable partnerships for firms throughout the industry.

That solid, entrenched position that programming has in the integration industry, however, took an undeniable hit during InfoComm 2016. Although “no programming required” type automation solutions aren’t new, they assumed a higher profile on the show floor than in years past.

Crestron touted its .AV Framework web-based configuration tool that offers fairly robust automation without need for traditional programming.  Meanwhile, Kramer launched cloud-based, drag-and-drop configurable control platform Kramer Control, which it developed with iRule.

“Millennials don’t want to learn a programming language,” says Kramer VP of marketing Clint Hoffman.

“Programming doesn’t exist anywhere else anymore. You do apps and drag and drop. Millennials will embrace this new style and [because it’s scalable] they’ll take control to places it has never been before. I think we’re opening up the control market to so many places.”

Crestron posted a video demonstration of its Crestron .AV Framework web-based configuration tool, hosted by manager of research and development Dan Jackson, in which it captures screen by screen and step by step the work needed to configure a fairly robust control system in less than 10 minutes.

“You don’t need any programming or custom UI [user interface] design,” Jackson says.

Watch Crestron’s Dan Jackson demonstrate .AV Framework:

The benefits of that simplicity go far beyond just not having to go to programming school. InfoComm executive director David Labuskes recently talked about how today’s innovative products provide integrators with opportunities of scale that were previously difficult to grasp. “By making it easier to install and reducing some of the customization of the mass use products there are a couple of things that are happening,” he said.

“One is that it enables the integrators to move up the value chain. Two is it acknowledges and recognizes that the buyer himself or herself is different from who he or she was 10 years ago. Now the person that’s probably making those buying decisions is in an IT that department that’s used to buying standardized scalable solutions.”

What’s more, Labuskes added, is it creates opportunities for integration customers to outfit hundreds instead of a handful of rooms with technology.

Crestron sees the opportunity to scale automation solutions since its .AV Framework allows users to save standard room types and then deploy them over the network.

“Whether you’re doing one room or 100 rooms or even 1,000 rooms, you just set it up once and then push them out over the network,” Jackson says. “And you can update your systems over the network as well. You can swap out products without having to reconfigure or program. It also automatically generates a touch-UI so you get a clean, consistent, easy-to-use experience in every room.”