Ada Used to Develop Medical Analytical Systems
Form U125-0394 MEDANAL.TXT
Ada Information Clearinghouse, 1-800-AdaIC-11 (232-4211), 703/685-1477
Tegimenta is a 460-person subsidiary of Hoffman-La Roche AG. Located in the Roche Diagnostic System division, it is dedicated to the development, production and assembly of high precision analytical systems used in hospitals and laboratories, to perform in-vitro diagnostics. After 24 years in business, Tegimenta's products are used worldwide, with major customers in the USA, Europe and Japan.
The system developed in Ada provides control of the COBASr INTEGRA, an integrated analytical system with throughput of up to 750 tests per hour by use of Absorbency and Fluorescence Photometry and Ion Selective Electrode. The system functionality comprises an User Interface, order & result processing and calculation, data storage and retrieval, printing, real-time instrument control, scheduling of tests, event tracking, server interface to laboratory information systems (LIS), quality control, system configuration, system maintenance and system diagnostics.
The application now totals 220,000 lines of code. It has been developed by a ten-person team on HP 9000/ series 400 and 700 running under UNIX, over a period of 3 years. Tegimenta engineers used the Alsys development environment, a proprietary GUI-builder and Cadre Teamwork. They followed the Structured Design and Structured Analysis method of Tom DeMarco using the Realtime Modeling of Pages-Jones to develop the software. A TCP/IP network supports six client-server connections to control the analytical instrument and an RS-232 network provides an interface for LISes. Some bindings to Raima db_VISTA DBMS and some OSF/MOTIF and proprietary UNIX bindings have been used. "Our system consists of several UNIX processes and Ada tasking is also used" states Martin Burri, Software Project Manager. UNIX message-queues are used for Internal Processor Calls. The real-time processing takes place on a INTEL-186 processor board.
According to Martin Burri, "Ada was initially chosen because it preserves our knowledge of programming languages like Pascal and Modula-2, it is more reliable than other languages because of the required validation of the compiler, and it proved after comparisons with C to provide significant advantages in terms of software engineering". With regard to the Tegimenta compliance with ISO 9001 which implies quality and certification requirements to the medical instruments developed, "use of Ada is a key asset" assures Martin Burri. During the development Ada also shown the advantages of its strong typing. "Let's say if you have compiled and linked successfully and something goes wrong, it is a 95% a matter of logic and/or design error but never something like a pointer mismatch" acknowledges Mr. Burri. Also, Ada has been very easy to learn and understand by Tegimenta engineers because of their Pascal and Modula-2 background. In that context, engineers are able to implement more elaborated features while working with Ada.
"Alsys technology was the only real Ada implementation for HP9000/300 hardware at the time we started" states Mr. Burri. Ada Probe provided very helpful support during the development and the Alsys development environment including the rich implementation of Ada Chapter 14 (representation clauses) supports mixed development and integration of the db_VISTA DBMS.
Convinced of the success of the use of Alsys and Ada for their development, Tegimenta now plans to continue developing in Ada. With the coming of Ada 9X, Tegimenta looks forward with interest the features related to the object oriented programming features with extensible data types, the internationalization of STRINGS, and less restrictive visibility rules.
Thanks to Martin Burri from Tegimenta for presenting his experience with Alsys Ada.
For further information, please contact:
Ann Tr|b Alsys GMBH & Co.KG Kleinoberfeld 7 D-76135 Karlsruhe Germany Tel: + 49 721 986 530 Fax: + 49 49 721 986 5398
Reprinted With Permission of Alsys, Inc.
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