1. Accelerated Test System Development
TestStand continues its commitment with TestStand 4.0 to improve the productivity of automated test system developers by providing them with powerful and easy to use tools.
New Streamlined Sequence Editor
Test software engineers developing with TestStand spend a significant amount of time using the Sequence Editor. TestStand 4.0 includes a new streamlined Sequence Editor which is both easier to use and more customizable. Moving away from the modal window and menu-based paradigm, the new Sequence Editor consists of reconfigurable panes which can be resized, hidden, docked and undocked in order to quickly and easily reconfigure your development environment to match your development needs.
Figure 1: The new streamlined Sequence Editor consists of reconfigurable panes and facilitates development with the new Insertion Palette.
In addition to a new streamlined design, the Sequence Editor also speeds the development of new Sequences by simplifying common development tasks, such as creating new Steps in a sequence. For example, the new Insertion Palette includes a navigable tree which displays all available Steps making it easier to see what functionality is available to the developer. In addition, the Steps in the Insertion Palette can be dragged and dropped into a Sequence to quickly create a new Step.
Preconfigured Step Templates
The Insertion Palette also contains preconfigured Step Templates which make developing Sequences faster and easier. Step Templates are created by developing and configuring Steps in a Sequence and then dragging and dropping them into the Templates pane located in the Insertion Palette. A copy of the Step is then stored as a Template that can be reused to quickly create new Sequences by simply dragging and dropping the Step Template into a new Sequence.
NI TestStand Engine Control Through Expressions
With TestStand 4.0 you can control the TestStand Engine directly through Expressions. In previous versions of TestStand developers had to use the ActiveX Module Adapter to control and communicate with the TestStand Engine. Using the ActiveX Module Adapter can be time consuming because each operation required a new step to be created and configured. Operations such as changing the path of a LabVIEW module can now be performed with a single Expression instead of using six different ActiveX Steps as the previous approach required.
Figure 2: The TestStand Engine can new be controlled through expressions
Increasing the debugging functionality available in the Sequence Editor, the new Output Window provides a way of posting messages to the development environment while a Sequence is executing. Output messages are generated through an Expression method or by communicating with the TestStand API and can contain error, warning or debug information. The Output Window messages can provide additional visibility into Sequence execution and are especially useful when trying to debug timing related errors due to their non-obtrusive nature.
Figure 3: The Output Window contains error, debug or warning messages posted during the execution of Sequence
Tools to Develop Custom Sequence Editors
TestStand 4.0 introduces two new User Interface (UI) Controls, previously used only to develop custom Operator Interfaces for Sequence execution. These new controls include the development functionality of the Insertion Palette and Variables View of the new Sequence Editor empowering TestStand developers to create Custom Sequence Editors in addition to Operator Interfacecs. Custom Sequence Editors can be used to create simplified development environments for TestStand developers who do not need all the functionality of the new Sequence Editor or to facilitate the development of test executives for specific applications.
To learn more about the tools to develop Custom Sequence Editors watch this 30 minute webcast on Developing NI TestStand Custom Sequence Editors in LabVIEW.
Workspace File Documenter
With the new version of TestStand you can automatically generate documentation of all the files in workspace in both HTML and ASCII text format. This documentation can be used to keep track of project baselines or to document the necessary files and their respective versions in order to recreate a system in the future.
To learn more about the new development tools in TestStand 4.0 view this 20 minute webcast on Accelerate Test System Development with TestStand.
2. Enterprise System Connectivity
Automated test systems are no longer independent silos with little or no connection to other systems in an organization. Today, automated test systems must communicate with many other enterprise systems and emerging industry standards. The latest version of TestStand continues a pattern ofdedication to enterprise system connectivity with a focus on requirements management and ATML.
Requirements Management Integration
The new version of TestStand leverages the functionality provided by NI Requirements Gateway to communicate with requirement management software such as Telelogic DOORS. You can now document requirements implementation in a TestStand Step, Sequence, Sequence File or Workspace and trace this implementation to a requirements document stored in multiple different formats. NI Requirements Gateway also facilitates the generation of verification documentation such as traceability matrices.
Click here to learn more about the Requirements Management Integration with NI TestStand by viewing this 10-minute demo.
New Binary and XML Sequence File Formats
TestStand 4.0 includes two new Sequence File formats which decrease the loading time of Sequences, increase sequence file readability and reduce file size. The new binary format is one tenth of the size of the previous INI Sequence File format and loads 75% faster. This decrease in loading time can increase the performance of Sequence executions that load Sequences frequently. The new XML format also provides performance gains by loading faster than the previous INI format while improving Sequence File readability for both humans and software facilitating their integration into other systems.
Sequence File Translator Framework
When migrating to TestStand, test developers might face the challenge of converting test sequences from a previous format into the TestStand Sequence File format. The new Sequence File Translator Framework provides an API for creating Translators which will automatically convert any Sequence File format into a TestStand Sequence. As certain industries move towards the standardization of test sequence description, such as the Automatic Test Markup Language (ATML), the Sequence File Translator Framework will allow you to leverage these industry standardswhile still using the TestStand platform.
Updated ATML Test Result Reporting
ATML is an IEEE standard aimed at standardizing documentation related to automated test. One of the areas ATML seeks to standardize is test result reporting. Starting with version 3.5, TestStand has been at the forefront of ATML adoption providing automatic generation of ATML reports. With TestStand 4.0, ATML Test Result reporting is updated to comply with version 2.0 of the ATML Test Result standard. Figure 4 displays an ATML Test Result report and its corresponding TestStand sequence.
Figure 4: TestStand 4.0 automatically generates ATML Test Result reports based on version 2.0 of the standard.
To learn more about the new enterprise systems connectivity functionality in TestStand 4.0 view this 20 minute webcast on Enhancing Enterprise Systems Connectivity with TestStand.
3. Conclusion and Resources
When considering an upgrade to TestStand 4.0, one of the main concerns test engineers will have is support for test Sequences developed in previous versions and what other roadblocks might be encountered. Due to the modular architecture implemented by TestStand new version are backwards compatible. For example, changes to new Sequence Editor will not affect the execution of the Sequences which run on TestStand Engine. In addition, the migration path from different versions is well documented in the product’s documentation as well as other content. TestStand standard service program members will automatically receive feature upgrades and maintenance releases of TestStand, and have access to TestStand technical support.
As software continues to play a bigger and bigger role in the development of test systems, tools such as TestStand will play an increasingly critical part in reducing the total cost of test system development TestStand 4.0, as the best of breed test management software, is leading the way in providing test developers with powerful and productive tools to quickly meet the next generation of automated test challenges.