Configuration Tool for Data Transmission Devices
Customer: T.D.T. GmbH
Technologies: Visual C++, MS Access
Workload: 10 man/months
TDT is a German company providing decisions in telecommunications. One of the products of this customer was a line of data transmission devices. In order to provide communication between networks with different data transmission protocols, that devices had module structure. The devices consisted of so called functional groups; each group serviced corresponding protocol. Each functional group was a separate independent processor system that consisted of interface- and CPU-units. Functional groups exchanged data via internal bus.
Device was configured via obligatory functional group referenced to as Administration Manager Software Module. Communication with Administration Module was implemented via assembly-like command language. In some cases (during device testing, repair and checkup) technician had to configure Administration Module interacting with it via terminal program. Such procedures took a lot of time due to various device configurations. Technician had to detect device configuration and than it became possible to work with individual functional groups. Each group had special commands. So during device tuning via terminal program technician spent more time searching handbooks, and such work needed concentration.
The task was to develop configuration application with friendly user interface in order to increase technician productivity and quality of work.
Analysis discovered the following features. First, number of functional groups was subject to increase in future due to development of new data transmission protocols. Second, a set of regular actions was detected (read/write functional group parameters, initialization/boot of the device, etc.)
We proposed to develop a database containing the detailed information about functional groups (corresponding image, list of standard actions, command sequences corresponding to each action). Configuration Tool uses that database to perform some basic actions that were performed by technician before. During connection to a device, the application detects (reads) list of functional groups via Administration Module, and displays device's image with all functional groups. Image is built upon information from the database. Context popup menus allow prompt execution of standard actions on configuration of functional groups.
As range of functional groups was limited, it was decided to use MS Access for database implementation. The other reason for use of MS Access was possibility of rapid development of a tool for database filling (this tool and initial filling of the database was performed by the customer).
The most interest attracting problem was database design, especially defining concepts for modeling of standard operations with functional groups.