The client is a leading Austrian-based provider of integrated hardware and software solutions for vehicle emission testing in the automotive industry
with a staff of more than 6,000 people and facilities in 28 countries worldwide. International automotive manufacturers such Daimler, BMW, Mercedes and others apply the client’s solutions to create new efficient engines.
What were the challenges of the client’s software?
The client’s primary product is a state-of-the-art automation system used for rig testing: from the component testbed to the engine, powertrain and
vehicle testbed. The system supports different measuring device drivers, each of them has its own flexible framework with ample implementation and configuration possibilities.
A special application was utilized to edit device drivers and define driver interfaces for the automation system. Being a leading automotive supplier, the client sets the highest standards in terms of performance, usability and innovation. The existing version of the application faced several issues that hampered upholding these high standards:
• inconsistent user experience, hindering effective device driver creation;
• outdated GUI design, complex to understand and navigate;
• difficulties in providing support for the application because of extensive functionality.
As part of the overall revamp of its automation system, the client wished to invest in a new device driver editor that would successfully tackle usability and functional challenges.
What were the top reasons the client selected Applied Systems?
The client planned to engage a provider with deep knowledge of GUI design and programming for measurement systems and a perfect command of writing device drivers. Applied Systems team was chosen for its solid record in GUI creation and expertise in multi-component industrial systems.
What project vision was suggested?
The client worked out the two guiding principles that laid the foundation of the future solution:
• Seamless user experience. Aim: enhance usability and provide a consistent appearance.
• Standardization and unification – a single approach to developing drivers of different devices and their components (error handling, scripts, device abstraction layer). Aim: speed up the development process for different devices and enable quick support, saving time and resources.
What functions does the new solution support?
Applied Systems fulfilled the client’s requirements in a new application - Driver Development Environment (DDE). DDE allows creating drivers as an end-to-end process. It uses available abstract interfaces, device drivers methods, procedures, variables, error-handling components as a development environment.
Applied Systems team performed all phases of project development, including requirements analysis, design, implementation and quality assurance. Special attention was devoted to usability improvements. Clickable prototypes were created to elaborate user flows scenarios and define interaction paths.
What tools and technologies helped us achieve desired outcomes?
.NET framework and WPF were selected as the key technologies for DDE. The team used Prism to build an easy-to-maintain application since DDE was planned to evolve over time. Automated regression and integration tests were utilized to guarantee test coverage for all advanced scenarios, complex functionality and command combinations.
How did we work with the client?
The project was carried out by a dedicated team of five software developers and two QA engineers. Using Scrum framework allowed them to effectively communicate with the client, respond to emerging requirements and quickly make changes to the product backlog.
How has Applied Systems helped the client achieve business goals?
Applied Systems sucessfully completed the project and delivered a new effective solution on time and on budget. The client and its customers use DDE to develop and integrate measuring devices in the automation system. DDE offers all the necessary tools to edit drivers for measurement devices with minimum effort and maximum accuracy.
The application had a profound impact on shortening device driver development time. It became possible due to creating libraries with ready-made device driver implementation.
DDE solved the issue of providing accurate and fast support. It was the critical task for older versions of device drivers. The team introduced a simplified two-way migration, i.e. the ability to convert new drivers to an older format and implement new features into older drivers. This way the client saved more than 50% of device driver development time.
The solution is distinguished by its advanced user experience (e.g. text highlighting, drag-and-drop, customization) and navigation. For example, DDE allows the user to save incorrect parametrization and notifies about error situations. Such features were not present in the older version of the application.