Effective Control System Framework Selection through Checklist-based Software Quality Evaluation

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The Herzberg Astronomy and Astrophysics Research Centre (HAA) of the National Research Council (NRC) is Canada's premier center for astronomy and astrophysics. It maintains the largest and most powerful observatories in Canada and represents Canada at many of the world's leading astronomical events. In the context of my pursuit of a master's degree, a collaborative effort unfolded between HAA and myself, centered around the multifaceted project named ARTTA4. In the realm of control systems, the significance of prioritizing the evaluation of open-source software's quality is undeniable. This emphasis arises from the essential role that a thorough appraisal of these components plays in safeguarding the security, stability, and efficiency of such systems. Neglecting this assessment exposes control systems to a range of vulnerabilities, including bugs and compatibility concerns that could result in operational disruptions, security breaches, and potential risks across diverse industries. Ensuring the integrity and performance of control systems demands a rigorous approach to software quality assessment, serving to preempt unforeseen complications and bolstering the overall reliability and functionality of these systems. Through my engagement with HAA, I recognized the pivotal role of an open-source control system toolkit named Tango Controls in shaping their antenna control system. Consequently, a comprehensive evaluation of Tango Controls' software quality emerged as a vital undertaking for guaranteeing the ultimate dependability and maintainability of the resultant control system. Accordingly, we conducted a generalizable checklist-driven software quality assessment approach to examine Tango Controls. This evaluation brought to light three specific limitations within this open-source toolkit. This finding prompted me to investigate a substitute control system toolkit to replace Tango Control. Thus, we adopted a Component-based Software Development (CBSD) methodology to propose two potential substitute solutions. These alternatives were put into practice through the implementation of a control system module at HAA, in parallel with the utilization of Tango Controls. To quantify their efficacy, we used SonarQube to generate a static source code analysis report. Furthermore, we conducted an empirical comparison centered around the development process spanning all three methodologies. Drawing from empirical and quantitative analyses, it became evident that one of the proposed solutions outperformed Tango Controls in terms of efficacy and performance. In conclusion, this thesis stands as a pivotal stepping stone in the realm of open-source software selection for the development of industrial control systems. As we move forward, the path to fully realizing the potential of open-source technologies lies in sustained research efforts and collaborative endeavors. By delving into the criteria commonly referenced by industry practitioners, we can glean insights that refine the selection process. Furthermore, the introduction of a natural language processing-based tool holds promise in revolutionizing how we approach open-source software comparison and adoption. Such a tool aims to streamline the process by autonomously aggregating pertinent information from diverse online sources. Through this holistic approach, we aspire to foster an environment where open-source technologies are harnessed to their fullest extent, driving the evolution of industrial control systems and propelling technological advancement.
SCADA, control system framework, software quality evaluation
Imani, A. (2023). Effective control system framework selection through checklist-based software quality evaluation (Master's thesis, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada). Retrieved from https://prism.ucalgary.ca.