Nieke Roos
10 May 2021

Philips and TNO’s high-tech joint innovation center ESI have agreed to make the Comma support tool available as open source through the Eclipse Foundation. Designed to support component-based software development, Comma (Component Modeling And Analysis) allows the interfaces of a component to be described, including relationships between them and timing requirements. From this specification, various things can be generated, such as code for middleware, documentation, monitoring and test cases. The tooling is expected to be released under the name Eclipse Commasuite by mid-2021, until which time it’s available via a licence agreement.

With the software in today’s industrial systems becoming increasingly complex, the challenge is to seamlessly connect various software components. Comma helps to prevent errors in the assembly of components. Jozef Hooman, senior researcher at ESI and professor at Radboud University Nijmegen: “It’s a generic methodology, developed together with the Image Guided Therapy team at the Philips Innovation Center Eindhoven. It’s great that we can now offer the tool as open source via the Eclipse Foundation. This gives us a large reach, which is good for the industry, worldwide.” Next to Philips, high-tech companies like Thales, Thermo Fisher Scientific and Kulicke & Soffa are using the tool as well.

Philips Azurion
Credit: Philips

“Comma specifies the interaction of a software component with its environment as a kind of contract,” explains Hooman. “You specify the interaction and the timing. It’s like buying a car. You make agreements about the delivery of the car, the payment, the sequence of those actions and the delivery time. Such a contract is essential for software components to be able to collaborate properly. With Comma, we stipulate this formally and also generate possibilities to test and monitor whether a component is fulfilling its contract. At Philips, this is integrated into the software development process.”

TNO recently became a member of the Eclipse Foundation. “We’re thrilled to welcome TNO as a new member, as well as working with them to establish the Eclipse Commasuite project,” says Mike Milinkovich, executive director of the non-profit organization. “The Eclipse Foundation is uniquely capable of bringing research organizations like TNO, industry, funders and public stakeholders together to create sustainable ecosystems and enable open source innovation at a global scale.”