The “software contract” simplifies the cooperation between the different components of the industrial system

Automation makes it easier. But it can also cause problems. The software of the different systems that make up an industrial process must be able to communicate with each other. In practice, linking software is very complex. The problem can now be solved with Comma, a method developed by TNO-ESI in collaboration with Philips, according to a press release released today.

TNO-ESI is a research group within the Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research (TNO) which focuses on high-tech design and engineering and embedded systems. In addition, the organization offers special programs to support innovation and develop the skills of system architects.

By using ComMA, software manufacturers are able to describe the interfaces of a component. This is how data is exchanged on what a certain component of the system should do and when it should do it. Based on these ComMA specifications, a variety of things can be generated, such as code for interaction technology (middleware), documentation, monitoring and testing.

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“ComMA creates a contract, so to speak, between the components that have to work together,” explains Jozef Hooman. He is a Principal Investigator at ESI (TNO) and Professor at Radboud University in Nijmegen, The Netherlands. “It’s like buying a car. You make agreements regarding the delivery of the car, payment, the order in which these actions take place and the delivery time. This type of contract is essential for the software components to work properly together. We use ComMA to formalize this and also to generate the means to test and monitor if a component meets the conditions of the contract. ComMA is integrated into the software development process at Philips.

ComMa will be available as an open source package through the Eclipse Foundation. The Eclipse Foundation is a global community renowned for cooperation and innovation in the field of open source software. TNO recently became a member of this non-profit organization. Expectations are that this will be achieved by mid 2021 under the name Eclipse CommaSuite ™. Until then, the technology is available to ESI partners and others through a license agreement.

To reach

“ComMA is a generic technology that has been developed in collaboration with Philips. I am delighted that we can now offer the ComMA tool as an open source resource. This means that we will have a broad reach, which is good for the industry around the world, ”said Jozef Hooman.

Also interesting: German software for more efficient use of industrial machines

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