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4 min read

Rti Announces Major New Component-Based Programming System for Building Complex Electromechanical Systems

Already chosen for critical application: Shuttle Launch Control System at Kennedy Space Center

SUNNYVALE, CA—MARCH 16— A component-based, real-time programming system that gives teams building complex electromechanical (EM) systems far more power, capability and time-savings than has been previously available was introduced today by Real-Time Innovations, Inc. (RTI).

Called ControlShell®, Release 6.0, the system allows the creation of clean, object-oriented designs, built from tested, maintainable, high-quality software components. It combines event-driven logic and sampled-data feedback control in a fully automated visual programming system that greatly reduces design time and improved quality.

After a careful evaluation process, NASA's John F. Kennedy Space Center chose ControlShell 6.0 as the base software architecture for the $200 million project to redesign the Shuttle Checkout and Launch Control System (CLCS). (See

Ben Bryant, CLCS Application Software Division Chief at KSC said, "CLCS is using ControlShell to develop our Real Time Control Applications. ControlShell's support of an object-oriented design paradigm fits with the CLCS Application Team's concept of how to maximize reuse and reduce maintenance. ControlShell provides a graphical method to capture data acquisition (Data Flow) and operational control (Finite State Machine) that increases productivity and will allow us to meet our ambitious schedule. ControlShell meets the requirements of our System Engineers (the users) by allowing them to understand the application, through graphical representation, without having to know the underlying language (C++) and provides visibility into the state of their application in the real time operational environment. RTI has provided outstanding support which is crucial to an important project of this magnitude which I believe has proven beneficial to us both."

According to Dr. Stan Schneider, CEO of Real-Time Innovations, "ControlShell 6.0 offers a crisp, thorough and elegant solution to the challenges that confront designers of complex

EM systems. It's the first solution that balances top-down object oriented design and bottom-up component-based synthesis in a true programming system. It also offers a proven framework, excellent visual communications tools, and automated programming. As far as we can tell, nobody provides a comparable solution.

"We are proud to be working closely with KSC on the project to redesign the Shuttle launch control system. It's exciting to launch our product with the hundreds of programmers and engineers who will launch the Shuttle into the next Century."

ControlShell 6.0 allows the creation of EM design from the "top-down" by visually decomposing problems into interacting objects. It also allows designers to build their system from the "bottom-up" by graphically combining components from a repository of reusable, tested and maintainable software.

ControlShell is specially designed for building complex EM systems. It combines event-driven logic, sampled-data feedback control and signal processing. While it allows engineers to build from pre-existing components without coding, it is still an open and powerful programming system that supports the custom software development that truly complex EM projects require.

In addition, its fully-automated visual programming is ideal for team development, providing specific graphical tools that leverage the skills of all the members: system architects, programmers and end users.

ControlShell is supported on Sun, SGI and Windows NT hosts. Real-Time target applications will run on Wind River Systems VxWorks® and SGI's React. In addition, ControlShell is integrated with Wind River Systems Tornado development environment.

"RTI is one of Wind River's first and closest partners, and provides one of the most popular third party Tornado tools," according to Curt Schacker, Wind River Systems vice president of marketing. "RTI's new ControlShell 6.0 offers a unique and powerful toolset for complex electromechanical system development. We are pleased to have RTI's newest products integrated with the award winning Tornado development environment."


Top-Down/Bottom-Up Approach

Traditionally, solutions took one or the other approach to build complex systems. ControlShell does both with equal facility. Top-down design consists of breaking a problem into smaller and smaller parts until the pieces can be easily implemented. It is intuitive, and allows division of labor and rapid prototyping.

Bottom-up design is the process of synthesizing from proven, pre-existing components. However, it offers no global view to communicate the goals and progress of the project.

Recognizing this trade-off, ControlShell takes a unique merged approach. It allows the user to start with a global, undefined concept, then decompose it into more specialized subsystems. But it goes beyond that to allow easy implementation of subsystems from reusable components.

Structure for Complex Electromechanical Systems

Structural complexity dominates most EM systems, especially when the user begins to connect subsystems with various functions. Such interconnections often lead to even greater complexity, since many systems change behavior in response to changes in operating conditions.

To address this issue, ControlShell provides specific tools and run-time engines that support interface capture and reuse, sampled-data feedback control and event-driven sequencing. ControlShell is a programming system, which means it provides users a framework in which to build their own application. It offers the flexibility that inventive engineers and programmers need to solve difficult and unique problems. In addition, this proven framework allows customers to focus on coding their application and not worry about all the "glue" code, therefore allowing them to get their job done faster.

Complete Automated Programming System

ControlShell recognizes that development teams contain a mix of skills and talents with each team member required to understand the overall problem and contribute specific solutions. ControlShell is a rich toolset that aids programmers and system engineers alike.

The graphical language provides both efficient design and team communication with everything placed in reusable software repositories. Team members then use these repositories to share their work. Installation, code generation, system building and documentation are all automated.

Real-Time Innovations, Inc. (RTI), a 1991 spin-off from Stanford University, is a leading developer of new tools and architectures for the growing real-time software market. The company's products help real-time developers analyze and understand embedded systems, speed development of distributed real-time systems, and coordinate the work of teams of programmers developing large projects. The company's products are currently in use in thousands of companies worldwide.

For more information, contact Real-Time Innovations, Inc. at 155A Moffett Park Drive, Suite 111, Sunnyvale, CA 94089. Phone: (408) 720-8312. FAX: (408) 734-5009. World Wide Web site at