Correspondence Testing Made Easy with ARTIST

Correspondence testing, making sure that data and wiring are correct so that you know that what you see and control in the control centre matches what is in the real world, is a bit of a bore! It’s also very expensive and very important.

Correspondence testing our model railway, so that when we take it to an exhibition we can check that it has survived the move, is not quite so labour intensive, not quite so important, BUT is equally boring!

Automation is the answer!

You may have seen a previous blog about our ARTIST test tool and wondered what it is/does. Well, here I am going to describe a real life example of an application of ARTIST. Although this is aimed at correspondence testing our model railway, the tool and the principle are equally applicable to ‘real’ railways.

Our model railway control centre consist of the following components:

  • Signallers interface providing indications of the state of the railway on a mimic diagram and controls to allow routes to be set and points to be moved, manually;
  • An interlocking to maintain the safety of the railway by not allowing routes to be set if they are already occupied and controls ATP codes to stop trains driving into each other;
  • A timetable to define the service that the railway runs;
  • An Automatic Route Setting module to automatically run and maintain the timetable;
  • A serial interface to the model railway controller.

The problem is to check that every indication on the screen corresponds to the correct piece of equipment on the track and that the controls provided effect the correct track equipment.  The solution; write a few test scripts, configure the interfaces, connect ARTIST and do it automatically. And redo it until it corresponds!

The interface to the interlocking did require us to write a custom adaptor.   Adaptors for more common interfaces, serial, IP, ODBC, already exist.  The test script goes through each piece of equipment to:

  • Move points;
  • Set every signal aspect;
  • Set every route;
  • Test every track circuit occupation.

The tester is prompted to:

  • Confirm that the correct piece of equipment is affected;
  • Confirm that the corresponding icon is affected;
  • Confirm that the route and route indications are as expected;
  • Occupy a track and confirm that the display is correctly updated.

Results are logged and may be printed out in the required format using ARTIST’s print manager.  On a model railway this is a fairly simple exercise as one person can watch both the track and the display. However, having developed a script that performs a complete test, it can be rerun automatically in the knowledge that everything is being exercised.

On a ‘real’ railway, the problem of seeing all of the equipment has not been taken away using ARTIST, but making use of a wireless link to a handheld device on the trackside would allow the engineer to see the expected result and confirm its action.  Script files can be nested so a complete correspondence test may consist of a number of scripts, each testing one particular item of equipment. Following maintenance of that piece of equipment, the engineer could run the relevant script and check the functioning and correspondence of that piece of equipment, whilst standing next to it!

What you can do is limited only by your (our) imagination. Come and see our model railway correspondence demo at Railtex (Stand C56) and see how ARTIST can help you.

Is it time to test?

Many of our clients work within industries where adhereing to standards is a must to ensure the development of robust safe software. For these clients the testing process is as important as, if not more than, the time spent actively coding.

If you are looking for an independant partner to assist in the testing of your software or considering the potential of introducing automation into your testing process, our team would love to hear from you.

More From The Blog

IR35, Here it Comes Again…

IR35, Here it Comes Again…

IR35, Here it Comes Again...In 2021 the reform to IR35 Off-Payroll rules is to be rolled out to the private sector. As before the reform will only affect companies that do not meet the following attributes: an annual turnover below £10m fewer than 50 employees or a...

Solving the Resource Conundrum

Solving the Resource Conundrum

Solving the Resource ConundrumPicture this. One minute all is fine and dandy, you have access to all the resources you could possibly need, then bam an unexpected challenge arises. Suddenly you find yourself lacking the capacity to meet the new need. What are your...

Quality – An Aid to Produce Consistent Rubbish

Quality – An Aid to Produce Consistent Rubbish

Quality - An Aid to Produce Consistent RubbishAnother year has passed, and myself and a colleague have hosted a BSI auditor for our annual ISO9001/TickITplus check-up, and in fact this was more than the regular check, in that it was our 3-year re-certification audit,...

The Hazards of Legacy Systems

The Hazards of Legacy Systems

The Hazards of Legacy SystemsBeing the owner of a software system with a dedicated customer base sounds like the kind of position one would like to find themselves in. At least until it gets superseded and you have to face dealing with a legacy system. Many developers...

How to Test Without Access to The Test Environment

How to Test Without Access to The Test Environment

How to Test Without Access to The Test EnvironmentIn many of our previous articles, we have expressed the importance of achieving a high standard of testing. Potentially blocking this achievement, several factors can come together to affect the quality of your...

The Technical Workshop – How To Make Them Work For You

The Technical Workshop – How To Make Them Work For You

The Technical Workshop - How To Make Them Work For YouAnyone experienced in product design will understand just how valuable a facilitated workshop can be. Bringing together a project's key stakeholders into a single space allows for the exploration of diverse...

Developing Software for Safety Related Systems

Developing Software for Safety Related Systems

Developing Software for Safety Related SystemsSoftware systems should always be both robust and reliable, however the moment you introduce a safety element, this need for reliability increases significantly. The level of safety required is governed by the severity and...

How to Choose an Outsourcing Partner

How to Choose an Outsourcing Partner

How to Choose an Outsourcing PartnerHaving recognised a need to outsource, and worked your way through the initial preparations, you are now in a strong position to seek out a suitable partner. Choosing an outsourcing partner is no trivial affair, so taking the time...

Preparing to Outsource: A How to Guide

Preparing to Outsource: A How to Guide

Preparing to Outsource: A How to GuideSo you have recognised a need for external assistance. You have weighed up all of your options and concluded that outsourcing would be the best course of action. Now you are probably wondering what you need to do in preparation...

Why do people outsource?

Why do people outsource?

Why do People Outsource?Throughout our years of operation, we have had the opportunity to help many different clients realise the software components of their business goals. As one can imagine, to reach the position that we find ourselves in today, we have had to...