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Open Surce Development Software For Airbus-Report  
User currently offlineLumberton From United States of America, joined Jul 2005, 4708 posts, RR: 20
Posted (7 years 10 months 4 days 6 hours ago) and read 2478 times:

This is intriguing; talks about an "open source" project for development and Airbus is interested. The project is called "TOPCASED".
http://www.heise.de/english/newsticker/news/82898
http://www.topcased.org/

Quote:
The development of vital computer systems to be used and maintained for decades in aerospace and automobile construction is preconditioned on development tools the specifications of which elude most classical software products. Therefore a consortium of companies centered on the aircraft manufacturer Airbus has decided to make sure -- by launching a project dubbed TOPCASED (Toolkit in Open source for Critical Applications & Systems Development) -- that it gets its hands on such tools.
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"The object is to obtain a collection of tools that covers the whole development process from system specification to the implementation of hard- and software," the Airbus manager Gérard Ladier explained. Mr. Ladier said that open source had meanwhile attained such a degree of maturity that it was now a credible solution for the creation of innovative, reliable system development tools designed to be maintained over long periods of time.



"When all is said and done, more will be said than done".
9 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineRichardPrice From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 1, posted (7 years 10 months 4 days 6 hours ago) and read 2462 times:

Its a pretty good idea, spread the cost of development across a few large businesses and also get what you want. There are some significant names in the partner list.

User currently offlineWrldwndrer From Canada, joined Dec 2006, 22 posts, RR: 1
Reply 2, posted (7 years 10 months 4 days 3 hours ago) and read 2364 times:

Interesting.... I wonder if something like this, if it had happened 5 or 10 years ago, would have helped the A380 fiasco ?

User currently offlineNoWorries From United States of America, joined Oct 2006, 539 posts, RR: 1
Reply 3, posted (7 years 10 months 4 days 2 hours ago) and read 2317 times:

Quoting Wrldwndrer (Reply 2):
Interesting.... I wonder if something like this, if it had happened 5 or 10 years ago, would have helped the A380 fiasco ?

Probably not. I've only given the website a quick glance, but it appears targeted at embedded systems development -- i.e. the software that typically runs embedded controllers in everything from microwave ovens to fly-by-wire systems. This is not a CAD/CAM system and would likely not be directly involved in the design of airframes or even the routing of wires within it. Having said that, the task of life-cycle management for embedded systems is a challenge, particularly for something like aerospace where systems are maintained for 20, 30, even 40 years. Having an open-source product with long term viability could be a plus. Open source software of course, has it's own challenges -- there are some pretty good successes (Linux, Eclipse, Apache, etc.) -- the dismal failures you never hear about. I'm not sure to what extent open source has succeeded when the [industrial] sponsors might potentially have competing interest -- be interesting to watch. As we have seen, consortiums can achieve great things, and can also present great challenges.


User currently offlineOsiris30 From Barbados, joined Sep 2006, 3192 posts, RR: 25
Reply 4, posted (7 years 10 months 4 days 1 hour ago) and read 2273 times:

Foolish pipedream (and I'm a software guy). Open source is notoriously hard to control qaulity with.

Additionally open source + corporations have a rocky history at best.

Honestly this is a waste of time and money for those involved. First it's a niche area. Secondly if it's run like any other open source project it will be years before it's stable enough to run IFEs. Finally, and maybe I missing something, but certifying anything like that would be a nightmare.



I don't care what you think of my opinion. It's my opinion, so have a nice day :)
User currently offlineRichardPrice From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 5, posted (7 years 10 months 4 days 1 hour ago) and read 2261 times:

Quoting Osiris30 (Reply 4):
Foolish pipedream (and I'm a software guy). Open source is notoriously hard to control qaulity with.

Additionally open source + corporations have a rocky history at best.

And I completely and utterly disagree, and Im a software guy.

We use opensource software all over the place in my company, we have had no problems with quality (indeed, what we use has a higher quality than the commercial offerings presented to us).

You seem to be missing the fact that this isnt a random opensource project, its backed and ran by the very companies that intend to see results - its exactly the same as if they were going to be doing the development inhouse, except they are cooperating with others to lower the costs of development.

This isnt a case of random people having commit access to the source repositories, infact the project can refuse to take patches from any external source - opensource does not mean free for all.

Quoting Osiris30 (Reply 4):

Honestly this is a waste of time and money for those involved. First it's a niche area.

Its a niche area, so that makes this a VERY GOOD use of money - they get what they want, and they get a product they can control 100%. If they bought a commercial application, they dont retain control.

Quoting Osiris30 (Reply 4):
Secondly if it's run like any other open source project it will be years before it's stable enough to run IFEs

Just because its opensource doesnt mean its anything like any other opensource project. You forget that the majority of projects are hobbyist, while this particular project is anything but.

Quoting Osiris30 (Reply 4):
Finally, and maybe I missing something, but certifying anything like that would be a nightmare.

You are missing a hell of a lot - there is no reason why this would be any harder to certify than a closed source system. No reason at all.


User currently offlineLumberton From United States of America, joined Jul 2005, 4708 posts, RR: 20
Reply 6, posted (7 years 10 months 4 days 1 hour ago) and read 2235 times:

Quoting NoWorries (Reply 3):
This is not a CAD/CAM system and would likely not be directly involved in the design of airframes or even the routing of wires within it.

I'm glad you clarified this. Here I was thinking it would be a "poor man's" CATIA!

Quoting RichardPrice (Reply 5):
We use opensource software all over the place in my company, we have had no problems with quality

My only open source experience is with "OpenOffice", but that's been very positive!  Wink



"When all is said and done, more will be said than done".
User currently offlineWrldwndrer From Canada, joined Dec 2006, 22 posts, RR: 1
Reply 7, posted (7 years 10 months 4 days ago) and read 2215 times:

As with most projects, it's the implimentation that counts. If there's sufficient motivation, I think a good system will result.

Which is why I'm thinking of the A380. The underlying technical issue (and I realize there were other issues at work as well) in this case was getting the French and German systems (ref: article in another a.net thread) to talk to one another. The French had a 3D system, the Germans a 2D system. Really, what matters is the interfaces and exchange of data between systems. I'm not a strictly a software guy (even though most of my experience is with DO-178B level A systems), but if the French and Germans had both produced files conforming to an open standard, agreed upon at the beginning of the project, and compatible with both of their systems, would that not have solved their problem ? Just a thought to open discussions. I've used some of the systems this project proposes to replace, and quite frankly I was not impressed with the commerical product.

We all want "professional quality" systems. But that's a very subjective thing to achieve, especially in the software world.


User currently offlineOsiris30 From Barbados, joined Sep 2006, 3192 posts, RR: 25
Reply 8, posted (7 years 10 months 3 days 18 hours ago) and read 2133 times:

Quoting RichardPrice (Reply 5):
And I completely and utterly disagree, and Im a software guy.

I knew there would be one of you out there.. glad I drew you out  Wink

Quoting RichardPrice (Reply 5):
We use opensource software all over the place in my company, we have had no problems with quality (indeed, what we use has a higher quality than the commercial offerings presented to us).

You use open source software for what? Running your web servers, editting your office documents.. the embedded world is just a tiny little bit different...

Quoting RichardPrice (Reply 5):
This isnt a case of random people having commit access to the source repositories, infact the project can refuse to take patches from any external source - opensource does not mean free for all.

Agreed the devil will be in the details, but if we are just talking about publishing the source, I would be hesitant to call it open source. (And yes I understand fully that open source isn't necessarily FSF/GNU style, but that's becoming the commonly accepted use of the term). If they are doing all the work and not accepting patches, why open source it?

Quoting RichardPrice (Reply 5):
Its a niche area, so that makes this a VERY GOOD use of money - they get what they want, and they get a product they can control 100%. If they bought a commercial application, they dont retain control.

No there is going be little value as few will be interested in it and the overhead vs. a close project will be wasted.

Quoting RichardPrice (Reply 5):
Just because its opensource doesnt mean its anything like any other opensource project. You forget that the majority of projects are hobbyist, while this particular project is anything but.

1 word: Java. The open sourcing of that product has been a complete and utter farce and has taken far too long with too much red tape.

Quoting RichardPrice (Reply 5):
You are missing a hell of a lot - there is no reason why this would be any harder to certify than a closed source system. No reason at all.

If they don't accept patches from outsiders you are right, otherwise show me the design validation documentation, etc. You know that pesky documentation that people like the FAA like to see...



I don't care what you think of my opinion. It's my opinion, so have a nice day :)
User currently offlineNoWorries From United States of America, joined Oct 2006, 539 posts, RR: 1
Reply 9, posted (7 years 10 months 3 days 16 hours ago) and read 2094 times:

Quoting Osiris30 (Reply 8):
Quoting RichardPrice (Reply 5):
This isnt a case of random people having commit access to the source repositories, infact the project can refuse to take patches from any external source - opensource does not mean free for all.

Agreed the devil will be in the details, but if we are just talking about publishing the source, I would be hesitant to call it open source. (And yes I understand fully that open source isn't necessarily FSF/GNU style, but that's becoming the commonly accepted use of the term). If they are doing all the work and not accepting patches, why open source it?

Open Source is probably an inappropriate description for this effort. It is a consortium, undoubtedly it is by invitation only, and participants will be expected to pony up resources (people, money, etc).

Open source is often driven by general need -- this program is being driven by the specific requirement of the member organizations.

Consortium's are very common in some R&D intensive industries. They can work as long as they remain focused and well-managed. For example, consider the following consortium, a veritable who's who of the electronics industry -- http://www.sematech.org/corporate/benefits.htm

Whether or not a consortium can develop a set of general purpose software tools to cover the specific needs of the many participants remains to be seen. I tend to be a bit skeptical of this approach given the potentially competing needs of the various members. However, the participants have observed various open source successes and are attempting this similar approach because they believe no suitable third-party software is available and wish to share the cost of its development.


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