Check our Tech: Homemade DLLs

We’re surrounded by technology at work and at home, most of which whizzes away in the background without us understanding it. Maybe that’s not a problem: Skynet hasn’t become sentient and sent robots from the future to kill us (yet). But there are still good reasons for understanding and controlling the technology we rely on. This is particularly true when you’re a technology company like CAMACC Systems.

“It’s why we run our own software engineering division,” says Steve Godfrey, CAMACC’s National Installation and Service Manager. “We make ourselves responsible for the code that intelligently connects cameras and digital video recorders, stores video footage, and runs all the features that analyze and report on what our cameras see.”

The unsung hero of your computer (and much more)

A small-but-mighty example of the importance of writing your own code is the humble dynamic link library (DLL) file, happily running in the background on computers, allowing you to do everything from streaming the latest episode of House of Lies at lunch, to being caught on camera while spilling Starbucks down your shirt. Darn…

A DLL a day keeps malfunctions at bay

A DLL a day keeps malfunctions at bay

The Babel Fish of electronics

What makes this tiny piece of software so important is in how DLL files connect things together. Specifically, they allow equipment and software to talk to each other. Typically, each kind of equipment speaks it’s own language, and each type of software speaks another; the DLL is the translator. DLLs provide a mechanism for shared code and data, allowing a developer of shared code/data to upgrade functionality without requiring applications to be re-linked or re-compiled.

All CAMACC cameras and digital video recorders contain firmware and software that need to communicate. The software requests the camera to do things a certain way, for example, how the camera reads, compresses, and sends video footage. The DLL translates the requests from the software’s language into the firmware’s language and then passes them to the firmware. The camera’s firmware receives these requests and tells the camera to carry them out.

Co-op student Brienne plays Babel fish

Co-op student Brienne plays Babel fish

Keeping customers up-to-date

Camera manufacturers are always building new gear, tweaking settings, coming up with new features, and de-bugging firmware to improve its efficiency. When new cameras and/or firmware are released, the updates are useless without new DLLs written to take advantage of the new technology.

“We make sure our DLL files are current by updating them ourselves,” says Alex Yan, CAMACC’s Technical Support Supervisor. It’s a critical function given the vast number of different cameras and other technologies out there. “Our software guys are writing new DLLs daily to make sure that CAMACC cameras and DVRs are performing.”

CAMACC manufactures all its own software, firmware and hardware which gives us an unique edge when it comes to keeping up with the newest technology innovations – and keeps our customers covered.

“If new equipment comes out and we need an updated DLL in order for our software to work on the equipment, we get it written right away, and into the hands of our field technicians for installation,” says Godfrey. “That allows us to always offer our customers the most up to date security solutions.”