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Automation makes things easier. But it can also lead to problems. The software of the various systems that make up an industrial process must be able to communicate with each other. In practice, linking software turns out to be very complex. The problem can now be solved with ComMa, a method developed by TNO-ESI in collaboration with Philips, according to a press release issued today.

TNO-ESI is a research group within the the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO) that focuses on the design and engineering of high tech and embedded systems. Furthermore, the organisation offers special programmes for supporting innovation and developing the competence of system architects.

Using ComMA, software builders are able to describe the interfaces of a component. This is how data is exchanged on what a certain component of the system should do and when it should do it. Based on these ComMA specifications, a variety of things can be generated, such as code for interaction technology (middleware), documentation, monitoring and testing.


“ComMA creates a contract, as it were, between the components that need to work together,” Jozef Hooman explains. He is a senior researcher at ESI (TNO) and a professor at Radboud University Nijmegen, the Netherlands. “It’s like buying a car. You make agreements about the delivery of the car, the payment, the order in which those actions take place and the delivery time. This kind of contract is essential to enable software components to work together properly. We use ComMA to formalise this and also to generate the means to test and monitor whether a component is fulfilling the terms of the contract. ComMA is integrated into the software development process at Philips.”

ComMa will be available as an open source package via the Eclipse Foundation. The Eclipse Foundation is a renowned worldwide community for cooperation and innovation in the field of open source software. TNO recently became a member of this non-profit organisation. Expectations are that this will be realised by mid 2021 under the name Eclipse CommaSuite™. Until that time, the technology is available to ESI partners and others through a licencing agreement.


“ComMA is a generic technology which has been developed together with Philips. I am delighted that we can now offer the ComMA tool as an open source resource. This means that we will have a wide reach, which is good for industry worldwide,” Jozef Hooman said.

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