In this ultra-dynamic digital era of technology advancing at breakneck speed, the trends and features are rapidly changing with each passing day. Different embedded software development methodologies and tactics are being introduced and many a time the more efficient measures are overlooked.
While the main focus of developers and organizations is to reduce the time to market, break bugs, deal with supply issues, etc. there are varied underrated tactics that could have greatly saved time & effort.
The situation is much graver in the case of embedded systems. Certain features are being disregarded often, leading to great trouble.
Taking note of the trends, team InSemi has come up with those aspects for your help and easier workflow.
So, let’s delve into the details!
Contemporary embedded software is built through several layers of automated tools. These tools help configure the platform, model, and features of the turnkey product.
The embedded software development process can be compartmentalized into 3 main units-
- Unit Test Harnessing – This encapsulates the unit tests and HW Mocks
- Configuration Management & Modelling tools – For generating the application code
- Platform Configurator – For managing the Middleware, operating systems, and related drivers
Out of these sections, the platform configuration and code generation part is checked by all. So now let’s investigate how the remaining aspects viz. modeling tools, configuration management, and test harness can work wonders for all.
First Element– Model Developed Code
The best part about a modeling tool is the generation of a hierarchal visualization of the software’s critical elements. This makes the simulation of the behavior off-target to transform new features. Also with a functional model, the envisaged structure can be transformed into a target-specific code. If some fine-tuning is required then this can be done off-targets. With a little effort, the target code can be regenerated.
Leveraging the power of model tools that simulate the embedded software this way, one can get a huge competitive advantage in terms of the TTM and development costs.
But still, a majority of the development team overlooks this usage. And the reason lies in the mindset.
Most developers believe that the modeled code is useless or the tools are too complex with exorbitant costs.
Well, there might be some tools with such issues but over the last few years, a lot of advancements have been made to smart systems. Now, there are highly cost-effective tools available that are not only user-friendly but also generate high-quality code automatically.
Even if some issue in any of the mentioned aspects is there still it is only the developer team that is in benefits.
Second Element- Configuration Generated Code
Another important element generally overlooked in the embedded software domain is the way the developer team configures the product. Often strategic configuration management is missing.
Most organizations have multiple product stock-keeping units that repeatedly use a considerable portion of the code. That code snippet is simply copy-pasted and with conditional statements the code base is created.
Here the solution lies in developing (and executing) an auto-generated configuration code that is specific to the product and can be integrated to finalize the system.
Let’s exemplify this-
Suppose there is a product with 3 different SKUs and they all have different tasks. So in place of duplicating the base code into all those 3 SKUs, the developers can code the differences in an execution file. With the difference being coded, the main code can be generated automatically.
Then the developers can use their developing system to specify which SKU they want to build. Also one can develop specific SKUs in various repositories using the git module. This way SKU specific repository can be developed and the DevOps pipeline for each SKU can be built.
Third Element- Test-Driven Code
The last overlooked element is automated testing which is also rarely entertained.
Auto-testing feature has touched almost all aspects of computer engineering but the embedded system domain still needs widespread adoption. If leveraged appropriately, this could enhance the software quality by leaps and bounds as the bugs would be detected much faster.
All the corner cases, which are generally left in the testing phase, can be easily tested in lesser time with automated testing. This also reduces the potentiality of bugs breaking the system at the worst times.
Building test automation within DevOps can make a huge difference in the embedded system space. The teams must invest their time and efforts upfront so can reap the benefits later in harder times. In the start, one can feel like they are going slow but in the long term, benefits are considerably high.
In a nutshell
The development teams are always packed with lots of loads. Keeping up the pace with fast-changing trends and implementing them in the development cycle is an intimidating task. But the generally overlooked pointers, as elaborated in the article, can transform embedded software development and greatly help in managing the overall project as a whole.
Apart from enhancing the product quality, these elements not only reduce the product’s time to the market but also impart a competitive advantage in terms of cost-effectiveness.