New PLCopen working group on Software Metrics

PLCopen intends to start a new working group on software quality. The motivation for this initiative is that platform suppliers offer comprehensive tool support to measure code quality, but it is barely used by customers in daily practice. Therefore, PLCopen wants to  provide guidelines to support customers of PLCopen members to optimally integrate existing metrics for code quality into the software engineering workflow to achieve the greatest possible benefit with little effort.

An introductory meeting is set for October 13, 2022 from 13:00 till around 14:30 CEST via GoToMeeting.  Further meetings, especially a Face2Face meeting will be decided during this meeting.
If you want to join please contact Eelco van der Wal.

Software plays an ever-increasing role in industrial automation. This results in a software cost increase, even to the point that it becomes the highest part of the total system. To control these costs, one needs higher efficiency during the application development, while increasing the software quality and decreasing the maintenance and update costs.

Essential to controlling the software cost is the quality of the software itself. Quality in the sense of correctness, reliability, usability, integrity, efficiency, as well as maintainability, flexibility, testability and portability, reusability, and interoperability, as shown by McCall below.

For measuring software quality and comparing this over time one needs metrics. Software metrics are a proven means in computer science to objectively assess software quality. Recently, numerous approaches have emerged in research to transfer established metrics for PLC software in automated manufacturing systems, which are partly also implemented by PLC platform suppliers to enable an automated quality assessment. However, up to now, these approaches have barely made their way into industrial development practice in machine and plant manufacturing. 

Therefore, this working group aims to develop guidelines on how a metric-based quality assessment of PLC software can be integrated into the daily industrial routine for different stakeholders in the software engineering workflow in machine and plant engineering. Existing approaches from research and tool support from platform suppliers will be used and enlarged to be applicable for various use cases and company-specific boundary conditions – with little effort in daily practice and at the same time greatest possible benefit. 

We expect the guidelines to provide the following benefits for PLCopen members and their customers:

  • Enable customers of PLCopen members to use available code analysis solutions in daily practice
  • Increase of the satisfaction of customers of PLCopen members by an intuitive, low-effort integration of metrics-based code analysis into company-specific software engineering workflows for gut-level support
  • Increase of the target group of available metrics and code analysis approaches provided by PLCopen members through workflow integration and use of the results for different stakeholders
  • Support customers in saving time during development by systematic identification of target conflicts between software quality characteristics in early design phases