Automating Real-Time Tests Using NI VeriStand and NI TestStand

Publish Date: Nov 18, 2011 | 4 Ratings | 3.75 out of 5 |  PDF

Overview

This article summarizes the functionality of NI VeriStand real-time testing software and NI TestStand test automation software and highlights the differences between them. It also provides guidelines on when you should use NI TestStand for real-time test automation. Lastly, it explores how you can use NI VeriStand and NI TestStand together, along with NI Requirements Gateway and NI DIAdem, to create an automated real-time test system that can track requirements and perform automated data analysis and reporting.

Table of Contents

NI VeriStand and NI TestStand Application Software Systems

NI VeriStand is real-time testing software for real-time validation of embedded control systems and physical test cell automation. It is designed to be used in applications that require greater reliability and performance than is possible using a general-purpose OS.

One example of real-time testing is a hardware-in-the-loop (HIL) simulator for which system models must be executed deterministically to provide an accurate simulation of the components that are not physically part of the test. Physical test systems that use closed-loop control are another type of real-time test application. These systems must automatically control a part of the test system, such as an environmental chamber, by reacting to sensor and setpoint changes deterministically to achieve the desired state of the system. They must also detect and respond to alarm conditions quickly to help prevent operator injury or test system damage. One last example of real-time test systems are test cell stimulus and monitoring applications, which are similar to closed-loop test systems. However, these test systems either already have an integrated control system or do not require closed-loop control. They simply need a tool that can provide deterministic, open-loop stimulus generation and test cell monitoring. You can use NI VeriStand to perform deterministic, reliable testing for many types of applications. 

NI TestStand is test automation software designed to develop automated test and validation systems. It automates sequences of steps. These steps can be individual tests, measurements, actions, or commands. NI TestStand steps are not based on any increment of time, so sequences cannot be run with any measure of determinism. As Windows-based software, NI TestStand does not run on a real-time OS, so it must be combined with a real-time application environment such as NI VeriStand or the NI LabVIEW Real-Time Module to perform real-time tests. 

When to Use NI TestStand for Real-Time Test Automation

With its 2011 release, NI VeriStand adds a sophisticated test profile creation tool that you can use to automate your real-time testing applications. In addition to step-based profile creation, you can create complex real-time stimulus profiles that include multitasking, decision making, subsequences, and a variety of programming constructs such as For Loops, While Loops, and composable mathematical functions. This provides a flexible environment for conducting real-time tests. Using these new capabilities, you can also add real-time response analysis for deterministic decision making, pass/fail analysis, and report generation. With the NI VeriStand 2011 Stimulus Profile Editor, you can use NI VeriStand as a full-featured real-time test automation tool. You can create reusable test scripts to perform tests throughout all phases of the embedded software development process, from model-in-the-loop testing to physical testing in real-time test cells. Then you can use these scripts to quickly and easily perform regression testing if the embedded software changes late in the development cycle. You also can use NI VeriStand directly with test generation software such as TestWeaver from QTronic for automated test generation. If you would like to include additional functionality in your real-time test system, NI TestStand provides features that extend beyond test automation to a wide breadth of third-party software integration.

Figure 1. An Example of Test Automation Using the Stimulus Profile Editor in NI VeriStand

NI TestStand provides a framework for developing, managing, and executing test systems that extends beyond standard automated test sequencing. You can use this software as a test executive to automate the execution of code modules written in nearly any programming language including LabVIEW, ANSI C, and Python. In addition, you can use NI TestStand to automate your real-time testing application by calling the NI VeriStand .NET-based execution API. NI TestStand can also manage hardware and software from multiple platforms in a single NI TestStand sequence. For example, it can automate NI VeriStand real-time sequences running on an NI PXI real-time controller, while simultaneously controlling a third party instrument using its native IVI driver support. After you run your test, you can log test result information in a customizable report or database automatically. Additionally, systems written in NI TestStand integrate with existing source code control, requirements management, and data management systems.

You can also integrate NI TestStand into third-party test management and test generation software platforms. For example, you can use NI TestStand with MaTeLo from All4Tec to generate automated tests based on your application requirements. Whether you would like to use TestWeaver with NI VeriStand or MaTeLo with NI TestStand, you can create a test system to not only automate tests but also automatically generate unit tests to make your ECU fail. This helps you focus on testing embedded software thoroughly instead of writing new test scripts from scratch. 

Figure 2. An Overview of an Automated Real-Time Test System Using NI VeriStand and NI TestStand

Summary

NI VeriStand is a real-time testing software platform that you can use to perform automated real-time tests that extend from simulation-only model-in-the-loop testing all the way through physical testing in a real-time test cell. It can help you reduce embedded software development and test time as well as optimize regression testing. NI TestStand adds enterprise-level connectivity to NI VeriStand for applications that require further extensibility into third-party hardware and enterprise software platforms such as configuration management databases. You can use NI TestStand with NI VeriStand to map tests to requirements, perform high-volume data analysis with DIAdem, and interact with other third-party software when performing real-time tests. Both NI VeriStand and NI TestStand can be used with test management software to automate test generation. For more information on NI VeriStand, visit ni.com/veristand. For more information on NI TestStand, visit ni.com/teststand.

Additional Resources

NI VeriStand

NI TestStand

Real-Time Testing Techniques

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