I work on software that is used to read and analyse data from instruments made by the company I work for: Fourier Transform Infrared Spectrometer. The software I work on is a client/server type continuous acquisition and analysis software. I work on the server component of that software.
One key component used by the server is the data acquisition component - sometimes called the data acquisition driver. These days data acquisition module is a more appropriate name for it since this component is written in Java and does not really corresponds to what we would call a driver. In the old days, when our software was written in C/C++ the thing really was a driver. However, in recent years the link between the PC and our instrument was changed from a proprietary protocol to good old Ethernet TCP/IP link. Also, in the meantime, software development switched to Java. Of course, all of this is very nice since Java has very good Network communication libraries.
Now, our software is very flexible and has very good data processing capabilities so why not use it to analyse data from other instruments ? Well that's exactly what I was asked to do a few years ago: make our software capable of acquiring and analysing data from any third party instrument. Now, while this may sound like a simple task, doing it right really is not that simple.
In my next few blog entries I'm going to talk about how this problem was solved. Now of course, I'm not going to discuss this at a level of details that could get me in trouble with my employer but this is not a problem since the key to the success of the project are not in the kind of implementation details that could be considered trade secret. No actually the key to the success of this project was using well known and documented good software design principles. I think you will enjoy this.