• X-Tools: A Case Study in Building World Class Software

      Cooke, Alan; ACRA Control (International Foundation for Telemetering, 2010-10)
      X-Tools is a collection of utilities for validation, translation, editing and report generation designed to enable the Flight Test Instrumentation (FTI) community to quickly adopt the XidML 3.0 meta-data standard. This paper discusses the challenges of developing such software that meets the current and future needs of the FTI community, and meets the increasingly high quality standards expected of modern software. The paper first starts by discussing the needs of the FTI community and the specific functional requirements of software. These include the ability to fit in with legacy systems, the ability to handle many tens of thousands of parameters, support for new networked-based technologies and support for hardware from any vendor. The non-functional requirements of FTI orientated software are also described and it is suggested that the key non-functional requirements include testability, modifiability, extensibility and maintainability. Finally, as a case study, the X-Tools from ACRA CONTROL are presented. The paper discusses their design, and the tactics used to meet the functional and non-functional requirements of the FTI industry. The paper then outlines how the rigorous quality standards were met and describes the specific mechanisms used to verify the quality of the software.