High Performance is a design approach that turns traditional displays into intuitive information with actionable intelligence.  It displays information in a simple color style to help make it easier to understand the project status. 

The High Performance approach achieves this by following several fundamental characteristics, which are listed below. 

  • Human Centric Design
  • Careful Color Selection
  • Layered Graphical Hierarchy

Human Centric Design

The main objective of this design is to increase the effectiveness of data handling and data analysis.

Humans can only handle so much information at a time. According to the ISA SP 18.2 Standard, project operators should only face about 10 alarms per hour in order to accurately respond to each alarm. However, the alarm rate is usually higher in the real world. 

Human Centric Design allows users to create smart designs with color configurations that help the operator's eyes easily focus on the situations that require the most attention. 

Detailed below are several proven operator performance results from the High Performance HMI Handbook



High Performance



Detecting abnormal

situations before alarms occur


1 in 10 occurrences


5 in 10 occurrences


5x improvement

Success rate handling

abnormal situations



37% improvement

Time to complete

abnormal situation tasks

18.1 minutes

10.6 minutes

41% improvement

Careful Color Selection

Even though the HMI application is a visual/graphic interface, you should not choose colors or shapes simply to have a stylish display. The focus should be on facilitating project comprehension. 

Below is a set of color conventions that is recommended for HMI projects.

  • Alarms: Use bright, intense colors that are not used in any other part of the display.
  • Background: Use non-saturated colors (e.g.: Light Gray) that have minimum interference with other colors.
  • Static Equipment: Use Dark Gray or Black for process lines. 
  • Equipment State: The equipment state's color selection must depend on additional appearance features, such as Fill, Shape, or Text.
  • Live Data: Use less intense, cool colors (e.g. dark blue and dark green). These colors should be easily distinguished from static information so they do not distract the operator

The table below illustrates the recommended color palette for a High Performance HMI Project.

Layered Graphical Hierarchy

Layered Graphical Hierarchy refers to the way in which data is structured across displays throughout the project. The recommended organization method is a series of levels and sublevels in which each level is more detailed than the previous one.

  • Level 1: High-Level information such as an indication of performance or events that require immediate attention.
  • Level 2: The display used by operators to perform their tasks.
  • Level 3: Displays the controls for individual equipment as well as the information and status of the equipment. 
  • Level 4: The most detailed display that provides information on individual components and equipment. 

Symbol Library

Symbols are graphical objects that contain a series of built-in dynamics. They can be added to a display as a representation of tags.

HPG are accessed through the Draw Editor under the Symbol Library button (located in the toolbar).

List of Symbols

Symbols are separated into 3 main categories (Default, HighPerformance and Standard). Each HighPerformance subcategory component is detailed below.















Mapping Symbols to Runtime Objects

To map an added symbol to a runtime object, double-click on the symbol to display its supported properties.

Even though symbols have different runtime properties, they all can have similar appearances (such as color) according to the state they are in. In the example below, every symbol that is On, Open, Running, or Energized appears white to indicate that the item is in a "running" state. Since they are all in a similar state, they would each be mapped to the Value "1".

Value = 0 // Off/De-energized/Idle/Stopped/Closed
Value = 1 // On/Energized/Running/Open
Value = 2 // Disabled/Out of Service

The values listed above follow the color convention pattern for HMI displays, and the different colors a symbol can display are illustrated in the image below. 

Symbol Themes and Colors

A symbol's appearance can be customized by changing the theme for the object. In Run-Dictionaries-Themes, you will find theme palettes that are predefined and are built into the NewProject Templates.

The ItemName property that is related to the HPG symbols are highlighted in the image below.

The user can use this page to easily create new themes or edit pre-existing ones. The following images show some examples using different themes.

Alarm Indicator

This symbol acts as an indicator for the alarm state of a specific tag. It can display the alarm priority level (low, medium, or high), and it has 3 different possible color configurations depending on the status of the alarm state. See image below. 


The AlarmPriorityEnum property is used for animating the Alarm Indicator symbol. The Enum property has the following settings:

Low Priority (Alarm Priority = 0 - value in the Alarm Items table)
1	- Acknowledged
2	- Normalized
3	- Active

Medium Priority (Alarm Priority = 1 - value in the Alarm Items table)
4	- Acknowledged 5- Normalized
6	- Active

High Priority (Alarm Priority = 2 - value in the Alarm Items table)
7	- Acknowledged
8	- Normalized
9	- Active

In Runtime, the Alarm Indicator can display the following behaviors:

Number in Symbol:
-	1: Priority High (2)
-	2: Priority Medium (1)
-	3: Priority Low (0)

Outer Border and inner element:
-	Border static and Element blinking: Alarm is active
-	Border static and Element static: Alarm is acked
-	No Border and Element blinking: Alarm is normalized
-	No Border and No Element: Alarm not active

The following images demonstrate the display's appearance when an alarm is in an active state.

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