The ATML working group members have been holding quarterly meetings for more than two years to work toward establishing an IEEE standard that provides increased industry and mil/aero ATE system compatibility and modularity. The group is focused on establishing a standard that provides and manages extensibility while supplying an exchange format that both humans and machines easily can interpret.
In addition, the ATML standard is designed to improve several areas of ATE and test system design by:
- Implementing dynamic test sequences that adapt to historical data
- Supporting instruments and their interface setups
- Capturing test information at various test stages
To facilitate data exchange among system interfaces, stations, and manufacturers, and to ensure asset interoperability, the ATML working group has defined several external interfaces on which to standardize, including test result reporting, diagnostics, test description, instrument description, test configuration, UUT data, and the test station. Drawing on these interfaces, the working group has defined eight ATML components built on a ninth common component for an XML data interface (Figure 1).
Figure 1: ATML component interfaces facilitate data exchange and ensure asset interoperability.
While not all of the schemas are final, it is beneficial to look closely at the overall ATML structure and one of the approved schemas. For a detailed list of the ATML schemas and their current statuses, visit http://grouper.ieee.org/groups/scc20/tii/.
XML-Based ATML Structure
The ATML data exchange file is in ASCII text format with system-interface-specific tags, or elements, organizing the data. It is the ATML schema that defines the specific elements and their hierarchy within this data exchange file. Because the text document is a file containing descriptive tags, it can operate on any platform, and a computer program can easily interpret and parse the tags based on the schema. For those same reasons, it is human-readable.
Because ATML uses the XML standard for describing ATE and test data, it takes advantage of recursion and extensibility, key technical benefits that give test systems greater flexibility in defining interfaces. By supporting recursion, element definitions describing test properties or tests can nest to create a more managed data exchange format. In XML, test information extensibility adds data elements without disrupting current system operation. The ATML standard also includes general-purpose elements, such as OtherData and Extension, that can store additional information not specifically outlined in the ATML schema. All ATML-compatible systems can handle these miscellaneous elements differently or not at all and still operate correctly. Thus, ATML-based applications provide inherit extensibility to maintain compatibility among systems, while also maintaining flexibility.
To gain further insight into an ATML component, here is a look at the ATML TestResults component, which describes how test results should be organized.