Where’s My GSD File?

GSD files have been needed for a long time, first for PROFIBUS, and now for PROFINET. Our usual comparison is to printer drivers. A GSD file tells the software system what features, I/O, alarms, and diagnostic capabilities a device has. It resides in the engineering tool, not in the device itself. A printer driver is similar in that in allows the operating system to use the printer. The printer driver does not reside in the printer either. So, to answer the title’s question, “Where’s my GSD file?” – it’s in the software, not the hardware.

There’s another relevant question about GSD files – where do find them? The possibilities: the Internet, a CD or other storage device shipping with the product, in the device itself. Wait, what!? In the device itself! I thought you said the GSD resided in the software, not the hardware. In this case the device is simply the memory storage for the GSD, which must then be imported into the engineering tool.

A funny story about finding a GSD file on the Internet. When our colleagues at the PROFI Interface Center were assembling the demo rack for our one-day training classes, they needed a GSD file for the Phoenix Contact I/O device. They Googled “Phoenix GSD” to find it. Of course, the first search results were about German Shepard Dogs in Phoenix, Arizona. They had to refine their search and found the right GSD file.

What does GSD stand for? We love our acronyms, don’t we. In English, we call it “General Station Description.” But it’s really abbreviated from the German “Gerätestammdaten.” Making up a phrase to fit a pre-existing acronym makes General Station Description a backronym.

Now another funny thing – what we call acronyms, aren’t. They’re initialisms. Acronyms, by definition, are actual words that derive from a phrase; for example, scuba from self-contained, underwater breathing apparatus. And radar, sonar, and laser.

–Carl Henning