Association for Standardization of Automation and Measuring Systems (ASAM)
As data acquisition, analysis and modeling software has matured and become a more integral part of the product development cycle the need for a more modern universal data format has emerged.
The first effort to provide a new data exchange structure comes from ASAM (Association for Standardization of Automation and Measuring Systems). This group was originally formed in 1991 as an initiative of German automobile manufacturers. Today, the Association has over 60 members reflecting a strong influence from the US and European automobile industry, including manufacturers, parts suppliers and experimental data acquisition vendors (General Motors, Daimler- Chrysler, Porsche, Volvo, BMW, Delphi Automotive, LMS, and MTS to name a few). ASAM is coordinating a wide range of standards that will affect application software and, in particular, integration of applications and peripheral devices. The figure below shows the different components within ASAM that allow integration of all phases of the test and measurement process
The experimental data exchange portion of the standards falls under the ASAM Open Data Service (ODS) activity and intends to define a generic data model, data interfaces and data exchange syntax and format. The goal of the ASAM-ODS activity is to provide an easy-to-use, text based exchange format (ASAM Transport Format, ATF) to exchange data, including associated meta information, between different operating systems and different hardware platforms.
Originally ASAM ODS used an ASCII based format named ATF/CLA. However recently the use of eXtensible Markup Language (XML) was added to the standard. The CoCo-80 has adopted the ATF/XML format of ASAM-ODS. XML is an easy to use and well known data structure that is regarded to be a long term tool. Using XML files for data exchange and data archiving was introduced for several purposes.
- It provides more detailed automatic verification of an ATF/XML file than is possible with ATF/CLA. XML-Schema is an XML-based description for the content of an XML file and this description can be processed by automatic tools which are worldwide available.
- As ATF/CLA does, also ATF/XML provides model data on the same file that contains the data (respectively links to the data). This guarantees consistency between model (meta information) and data and ensures that data being exchanged or archived are always understood correctly.
- A header section allows information about version, base model and originating system;
- XML syntax is able to transport references in a more explicit way, e.g. using pointers, which makes references verifiable by automatic tools;
- Meta information is enclosed in tags, this makes the file well-formed and thus allows easy checks.
- The ATF/XML file is a logical file which may consist of one or more physical files.
- Connectors between existing universal packages like EXCEL®, MATLAB®, etc. and the ODS data store will be offered.
The overall structure of an ASAM-ODS ATF/XML file is described in the following figure. It includes meta information, or information pertaining to the data, including environment, dimensions and units, administration, description and security. All meta information is stored together with the actual data in most cases. The standard also allows meta information to be stored in a separate file when the data file is very large and requires a more compact binary data format.
The careful design of the ASAM/ODS data format with the open architecture that is hierarchical results in a new universal file format that improves the portability of measurement data. This allows data to be shared between platforms and software ensuring data and all data attributes are maintained throughout the process.
CoCo-80 and ASAM/ODS
Crystal Instruments has adopted the ASAM/ODS standard for the CoCo80 as the native format on the hardware and software. When data is transferred from the CoCo-80 to a PC the data remains in the ATF/XML format. All data and meta information can be viewed in the Crystal Instruments Engineering Data Management System (EDM) software as shown in the Figure 4.
For industries that have not adopted the ASAM standard, using the EDM the data sets can also be exported into the Universal File Format (UFF) , Binary Universal File Format (BUFF) Matlab, ASCII, NI-TDM, Excel or other formats. However the ATF/XML format is ideal for most applications either in the automotive industry or any other industry. The ATF/XML format provide more flexibility and meta information capacity than other formats. Crystal Instruments recommends using the ATF/XML format for all data unless data must be shared with legacy systems that have not adopted the ASAM standard. Data saved in the ATF/XML format can always be exported to the other formats.
By adopting ASAM-ODS ATF/XML as the native data format, data from the CoCo-80 can be seamlessly included in the test and measurement process of all automobile manufacturers and the rapidly growing list of industries from other sectors that adopt the ASAM standard.