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EXAM 3.1

EXAM 3.1 - More than just an efficient testing process

Exam_31_Titelbild_webIn 2006, the idea of an Extended Automation Method called EXAM was born in persuance of adapting automotive testing to the needs and requirements of the growing networked testing environment. By rapidly expanding its networked testing over the last couple of years, the Volkswagen Group managed to establish a sucessful testing model, which is not only reflected in the continously increasing number of users, but also in the number of departments working with EXAM - by now available in version 3.1. As the exclusive distributer of EXAM, MicroNova accompanied and advanced this development.

EXAM test automation is a graphical modeling tool for developing test cases. The first version was developed for Volkswagen Group with the goal to develop test cases within and outside the group, including other OEMs and suppliers on a common basis, thus increasing the testing efficency.

Not only automotive companies like Volkswagen and Audi have to adapt to these new requirements, but also suppliers who take a more and more global role in the development process. Hence the optimization of hardware and software testing is becoming more vital as it turns to be an important part in the development process. Furthermore, test teams are necessary in order to meet the increasing workload. As a scalable application EXAM perfectly fits the requirements to optimize the testing process. For this reason EXAM was dynamically adopted by the suppliers over the last couple of years. The number of users grew from 50 users in 2010, to about 150 user in 2012. Well-known suppliers like ZF, Wabco and Continental are using EXAM for test automation.

To meet the EXAM users needs exceeding the tool itself, MicroNova excusivley offers trainings, workshops, on-site resident support or customized tooling to let the user focus on the task itself - testing

In order to cope with new challenges like the maintainability of the application or managing the growing number of users, the new version 3.1 of EXAM was developed.

EXAM 3.1
With more than 250 EXAM users in more than 70 projects at the Volkswagen Group and about 150 users at suppliers, EXAM has become a well established, group-wide standard for test automation. The increasing number of projects in the HIL departments, with a growing demand of personal capacity, require the integration of an efficient test process in the overall concept of test automation.

EXAM 3.1 not only meets the requirements of an efficient test process, but also incorporates some of the most important characteristics of an enterprise application. Especially the scalability and centralization as well as monitoring and maintenance were the focus of the new EXAM version. Main benefit is not only a simplified software integration into an existing IT structure, but also the central monitoring and maintenance of resources.

Introducing the new Admin Perspective
Administrative taks can now be executed using a seperated perspective, called Admin Perspective. Within this perspective, the EXAM admin can manage generators, e.g. update the generator status, install new ones and assigning them to different resources. A clear representation of the generator statuses allows target-oriented monitoring and control. Migrating the database model schema to an updated version is as comfortable as updating the EXAM libraries with the new Admin Perspective. The maintenance mode insures a smooth transaction by means of disconnecting users during the model maintenance. Adding and deleting topics for the Java Message Service is also possible.

New generator modularization concept
For the first time, EXAM offers a modularization concept for its generators. Dependant on the required performance, generators can be allocated to different computers or processes and the code generation, auto compostion and constraint check jobs can be assigned to it. Single threads are no longer bound to a specific job and parallel access is supported by means of additional thread creation. As a result, the system load is distributed more equally onto multiple processes, enhancing the generator performance and the data throughput. Furthermore, the flexible scalablility of EXAM generators will cope with current and future performance requirements by the Volkswagen Group and suppliers - especially for large projects.

EXAM_AdminPerspective

New generator user scheduling
Previous to EXAM 3.1, generator missions were processed using the First-In-First-Out principle. If a user produced a great number of missions by e.g. moving an often referenced EXAM model object to another location, the generator would process these one by one. Other users with less or single missions to process had to wait until the current job was finished. Therefore it was not until the current missions of one user were finished, before the missions of another user were processed. With the new user scheduling in EXAM 3.1, missions are no longer processed by user, but by single missions, equally processed from a mission pool by the generator. Thus, every user with open missions is handled equally by the generator. This does mostly benefit users with few missions by drastically reducing waiting time until test cases can be executed.

Other new features
EXAM 3.1 supports multitasking in a way that multiple window instances can be opened to work in different perspectives simultaneously. The handling of the Modeler Perspective was improved by simplifying the access to a SequenceDiagram of a referenced UseCase by double-click. The VariableMapping Perspective was extended by the additional mapping attribute values "unit" and "description". Specific mapping attributes manipulations are now supported by using the attributes unit to e.g. convert the signals value. The new Update TestSuite Wizard was extended with new update options. The wizard can now be used to comfortably assign inheritance relationships, SystemConfigurations and attributes to single TestSuites within the update package. Additional information on changes in EXAM 3.1 is documented within the EXAM help in section Changelog and new features in section What's New

Conclusion
Since the realease of the distribution in 2009, EXAM has been well-established at suppliers. The main reason for this development results from EXAM’s concept, offering significant benefits to all its users. Starting in small projects, where EXAM was used, it made its way to a company-wide test automation tool with many possible cases of application in its future.

Furthermore, EXAM has been continously established in more and more departments throughout the Volkswagen Group, even outside the classical HiL testing environment. Single test teams and departments are merging to aggregate knowhow and manage the upcoming challanges. As a result new requirements emerge, which can only be met using a modular, extendable testing solution like EXAM.

In order to incorporate the requirements of our distribution customers into the development of EXAM and to inform about new EXAM features, the MicroNova will hold discussion forums once again. Further information will follow.