The Open-DO Initiative: An Invitation to Join
Open-DO (as in "Open" and "DO-178C" the new revision of the avionics standard for airborne software) is an innovative Open Source initiative with the following goals:
- Address the "big-freeze" problem of safety-critical software;
- Ensure wide and long-term availability of qualified open-source tools and certifiable components for the main aspects of safety-critical software development;
- Decrease the barrier of entry for the development of safety-critical software;
- Encourage research in the area of safety-critical software development;
- Increase the availability of educational material for the development of safety-critical software in particular for academics and their students;
- Foster cross-fertilization between open-source and safety-critical software communities.
The essence of safety-critical software development is that all activities and their by-products come with evidence (sometimes formal, often informal) that proper due diligence has been undertaken in the production and verification of such software. As a result, safety-critical software comes with a large body of artifacts which can be an order of magnitude more voluminous than the software product itself. When a safety-critical application and accompanying evidence is complete, evolutions to the software often become costly because these entail regenerating the entire evidence-set. As a result, when a piece of software receives the "certifiable" stamp subsequent changes are avoided: this is what we call the "big freeze". By leveraging on lean approaches and agility we aim, within the Open-DO initiative, to shift the focus of safety-critical software development to more continuous and incremental certification approaches.
Qualifiable Open-Source Tools and Certifiable Components
Existing standards for developing safety-critical software assist developers in applying good software practices during development, focusing on adequate definition and execution of software engineering processes and activities: planning, requirements, design, code generation, verification, validation, integration, configuration management, quality assurance... Many of the activities in these processes are supported by tools.
Having open-source tools available with qualification material increases availability of these tools to a larger audience, decreases their cost of creation and support by virtue of sharing and reuse, and increases the chances of having adequate life-spans and evolutionary cycles.
Current open-source efforts targeting the development of tools for safety-critical systems include the Airbus sponsored TOPCASED (Toolkit in OPen-source for Critical Application and SystEms Development) for model based development, the work by Boeing on the Open System Engineering Environment (OSEE), and the work done by AdaCore et al. on Project Coverage (coverage toolset).
Because software is not just its sources, we must learn to share and jointly evolve the qualification and certification material of the tools and components that will be part of Open-DO. As such, cross fertilization between open-source and safety-critical software communities is an important pillar of the Open-DO initiative, and an important objective of Open-DO is to create a framework to federate open-source tools and components for safety-critical software development.
Making Safety-Critical Software Development Accessible
Decreasing the barrier of entry for the creation of safety-critical software is another important objective of Open-DO. In addition to the availability of open-source tools and components an important element of Open-DO is the availability of examples of processes and workflows along with document templates relating to various safety-critical standards, realistic sample projects complete with certification evidence, as well as courses and lab materials available to everyone.
Joining the Open-DO Initiative
Open-DO is an initiative; it requires the participation of players from industry, academia, and open-source communities. Members from Airbus and Boeing as well as other industrial and academic partners have expressed their interest in the initiative and are ready to get involved. To be part of the initiative visit www.open-do.org/participate/.