Every embedded software development process goes through similar steps. The requirements are collected, the system is designed, and finally, the code is written. Testing is the last but no less important step in the development process. In this article, we will go through the best practices and best tools to improve embedded software testing that are widely used in the process of embedded software development.
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Embedded Software Testing Is Essential
In every other kind of engineering in any other field, testing is considered to be a fundamental part of development. In the US, every federally-funded bridge must undergo extensive wind tunnel tests, for instance.
Mechanical engineers see testing as one of the most essential and, as some may argue, the most important functions. Yet in software development, while it is equally as important as in any other industry, writing tests is frequently viewed as a waste of time by the clients.
Thankfully, the embedded community, for the most part, recognizes the value in this part of the development process and often promotes testing parallel to writing the code, which has proven to be very effective for the delivery.
It is used to:
- Find bugs in software
- Reduce the risk for both users and the company
- Reduce development and maintenance costs
- Improve performance
- Improving UI (User Interface)
SaM Solutions has been providing testing as part of the software development services, as well as providing it as a service in itself.
The main argument for testing — cost reduction — comes from Quality Wars by Jeremy Main. In 1990, HP sampled the cost of errors in software development during the year. The result: $400 million in losses that made HP rethink their development strategy to eliminate mistakes in writing software.
The $400 million waste amounted to one-third of the company’s total R&D budget and could have increased earnings by almost 67%.
Top Embedded Software Testing Tools
Embedded testing concepts have much in common with application software testing. However, the comparison of application validation and embedded system testing methods reveals some important differences between the two methodologies. Embedded developers often have access to hardware-based embedded software testing tools that are generally not used in app development and the testing of applications.
Embedded systems often have unique characteristics that should be reflected in the test plan. These differences tend to give embedded systems testing its own distinctive flavor. Below is the list of top embedded software testing tools that help companies improve the software development procedure.
Tessy by Hitex Development Tools is a big player in the embedded software testing development tools market. Tessy is able to test code written in C and C++ in the embedded environment. It is often used for version verification with multiple standards. Tessy is used by test engineers to configure and execute automated tests and easily generate test reports. Tessy includes the Classification Tree Method used for test specification. The support of HTML, Word and Excel test documentation also comes in handy.
eggPlant tools created by TestPlant is designed to work with non-standard software, e.g. embedded software, that can’t be installed on the test system. eggPlant covers a wide range of tasks, including functional and performance testing. EggPlant tools work on the stack with other tools perfectly, which is very useful when trying to adapt it for teams that already have a determined toolset. EggPlant is also useful for running tests in the system with no code being installed on the server. Not being dependant on the underlying code when running with nonstandard technology is eggPlant’s strong side. In other words, eggPlant can run on virtually any system. The tool also allows for manual direction during test execution. The “Ask and Answer” commands let testers interact with the automated test execution, add input and designate other behavior dynamically. By taking advantage of manual interaction capabilities, testers can use eggPlant where most of other automated tools are useless due to the extreme complexity of functionality. eggPlant’s dynamic testing capabilities make automated testing more creative and spontaneous.
The Parasoft’s DTP is a great automation tool for teams that use continuous development strategy in the IDE or on the target for testing embedded software. The tool integrates into any embedded testing environment and provides automatic reports for statistical and historical purposes on the component level. Parasoft DTP includes tools to perform static analysis, code reviews, code coverage analysis and even traceability. The tool captures results based on open-source testing frameworks – Google Test, CppUTest, etc.
Parasoft follows the general trend of providing preconfigured industry- and regulatory- specific settings and standards for code compliance purposes. Parasoft templates are fully customizable to meet the end users’ needs. Having a customized tool helps build on traceability and other tracking or monitoring features required for compliance verification for safety-critical systems.
KlocWork Insight offers popular static testing tools for embedded software development. It automatically identifies bugs in the code and holes in security systems. Security issues in applications leave many holes for attacks intact that may result in terrible consequences, from minor overloading of the application to a complete shutdown. This tool assists with the integration and testing of the application on the component level. KlocWork Insight includes built-in systems for the following standards: CWE, CWE/SANS Top 25, CERT, OWASP, DISA STIG and MISRA.
Read also: What is Agile Testing?
Vector Software provides embedded software test tools specifically designed for unit and integration testing. The “toolchain” method is used in Vector’s software. It supports a total cross-development environment that includes:
- Target board
- Real-time OS
- Debug emulator
Leverage our 29+ years of embedded and firmware development experience
Vector’s tool includes configurable target integrations for each toolchain an embedded software code system needs. Vector Software is a big player on the market of automated software testing tools, especially when it comes to safety-critical embedded applications. VectorCast automation and management capabilities include a wide range of tests, including unit-, integration-, and system-level testing. Vector Software’s tools are fully certified for use in building and testing regulated applications. It’s a clear advantage for companies that work with medical devices or on aviation software projects, where security standard compliance is essential.
Choose Right Embedded Testing Tools
Although tools for embedded testing are quite alike, the choice of a proper one depends on a variety of factors. That is why companies should consider their technical and business requirements, as well as capabilities and resources when choosing the most relevant solution.
No mention of open source tools? I would have loved to see Robot framework in this list, as it is one of the most widely used generic testing frameworks and has very good extensibility for embedded systems.
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