Platforms for automotive tool chains (Artop/AUTOSAR)

Nirmal Sasidharan kindly helped in providing an English translation of our Autosar / Artop activities:

Standardized platforms are the solutions to increased development costs and quality problems in many areas of software development. In the automotive industry, platforms for the ECU Software have been defined within AUTOSAR and Genivi. OEMs and suppliers are thereby assured of reduced costs and improved quality by virtue of the standardized interfaces. Standardized platforms improve the quality of infrastructure components of software and pave way for more focus on the differentiating features. These factors are also advantageous during the application of a platform strategy in tool development.

Cost reduction using platforms

When considering the development tools in a  product development process, many similar features are developed anew by the tool manufacturers independently and with different technologies: data storage, user interfaces, connection to architecture tools and graphical editors are just some aspects of infrastructure. To illustrate the AUTOSAR tool chain is considered. AUTOSAR defines an XML interchange format in order to process the AUTOSAR descriptions beyond the tool boundaries. Each tool in the development chain can use the XML format for interchange and stores the AUTOSAR models in a specific representation in the memory. The processing steps of these sections of the development process are thus:

  • Importing the existing models from the XML format into the internal format of the architecture tool and processing of the model
  • Exporting the internal representation from the architecture tool into XML format
  • Importing the XML format into the internal representation of the RTE generator and generation of the header files.
  • Importing the XML format into the internal representation of the modelling tool in the internal format of the modelling tool and
  • Generation of the code

Altogether three tools implement the functionality of importing the XML and at least one tool to save in XML format. Since these tools are developed by different companies, this functionality is implemented three times and paid for by the customer. The complexity of XML makes implementing different versions of AUTOSAR complex as well. However, this is not differentiated by the tools. Therefore, it can be predicted that there is also demand for re-use of the tool chain. Open source platforms offer this possibility. At this point, Eclipse can be of use in different scenarios:

  • “Out of the box”: Eclipse provides many applications that can be used directly. This includes development environments for C and Java, but also for modelling according to UML, data mining and others.
  • As basis for applications: Frameworks for data management, user interfaces, graphical editors, forms, web access etc. are part of the Eclipse platform. Projects can set up their development on these frameworks and reduce cost. There are additional platforms for certain industries (partly independent of Eclipse).  For example, in the automotive sector this is Artop, which is being driven by some AUTOSAR partners and provides reading, writing, and the management of AUTOSAR models.
  • As integration platform: The common data model and  infrastructure enables a tool design in such a way that they are more closely meshed and tool gaps avoided.
  • For project-specific functions:  Development departments can build specific features on this platform that are not provided by the tools.

Artop

The AUTOSAR Tool Platform (Artop) is an Eclipse-based implementation of basic functionality for AUTOSAR development tools. Artop and its source code are freely available for all AUTOSAR members and partners. itemis perceives Artop as a viable platform for development tools in the automotive sector and provides its technologies in the model-based software development as a contributing member to the project. itemis advises OEMs and tool developers in the development, adaptation and introduction of Eclipse-based and Artop-based tools.

ARText

AUTOSAR models for complete and partial systems can be of considerable sizes. The experience with building and managing such models show that graphical editors often reach their limits here. An efficient alternative is the modern specific textual languages that can be effectively created using comfortable editors. Studies show that the input of large models is much more ergonomic and faster because of the absence of constant switching between mouse and keyboard. Issues such as version control and model comparison, which still has not been satisfactorily resolved by graphical models, are easily resolved by textual models with the established tools from the source code management.  Thus, textual editors are much more cost-effective to implement and they are automatically generated to a large extent.

This concept is pursued and implemented in “ARText”, the sub-project of Artop. ARText is based on the core technology “Xtext” provided by itemis and is a comfortable editor for AUTOSAR models.

itemis supports the operation and adaptation of textual, domain-specific languages like ARText.

Picture: Mark Evens – istockphoto

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