In the previous section, several development languages were briefly discussed in order to program and integrate PDTs with your computer system. As an alternative, there are several PDT program generators that are now available that virtually eliminate the task of software programming and significantly reduce lengthy development time periods.
Most of these program generators are simple enough for non-programmers to use, but offer the features and functionality of experienced programmers to develop advanced applications. However, some training may be required. Usually these program generators provide conditional branching, user definable prompting, and keyed file access to your corporate databases. Other advanced features are available to completely customise your application.
In general, the goal of these program generators is to "automatically" produce the source code for you without having to write a single line of code. Once the custom data collection program is built, the output of the program generator usually generates "C" code which can be compiled using a standard C/C++ compiler. For the most part, these program generators can create data collection programs in a fraction of the time that it would take to write a software program. In addition, several of these program generators support "cross-platform" development. In other words, drivers can be purchased separately to generate code that will work with several different PDT models.
Program generators should be consider when (1) a fully custom solution is required, (2) limited developer resources are available, (3) frequent updates or minor modifications are continual (e.g. consulting services or contract programming), and (4) cross-platform PDT support is necessary.