With the impending release of the DO-178C safety standard for certifying object-oriented software, code analysis and verification company LDRA announced today that it will support the Java programming language in its tool suite.

Java has not been used in safety-critical applications because there hasn’t been clear guidance on how to certify it, according to Ian Hennell, LDRA’s operations director.

“From our perspective, Java’s time is now firmly in the frame,” he said. “It’s not necessarily about embedded. Java’s being used in areas where more rigor is being demanded.”

Hennell added that Java is mostly used in networking, communications and UI components of complex, safety-critical applications.

Another effort, JSR-302 for safety-critical Java, is taking the processes, rigor and certification required by these types of applications and bringing it to the wider world, he added. “The maturity and acceptance of the language, with new certification controls…You have to take Java into account now.”

Hennell said organizations can learn from others where rigorous coding standards are mandated—often projects that are expensive but funded by the U.S. Department of Defense—and apply that same level of rigor but at much less cost.

Doug Locke, the spec lead for JSR-302 and principal at LC Systems Services, said a draft specification should be posted to the Java Community Process site in a few weeks. “As you may imagine, bringing Java into the safety-critical systems arena is not an easy task,” he said. “Many would consider the idea to be an oxymoron, but we believe we have arrived at a draft standard that will definitely make it possible.”

Java support will appear first in Testbed, the company’s static and dynamic analysis engine; TBrun, the company’s automated unit test engine; and the company’s TBvision reporting and management software.

Agile framework for critical software
At the Embedded Systems Conference in San Jose this week, LDRA announced a partnership that will bring Codice Software’s Plastic SCM configuration management solution into LDRA’s Embed-X verification tool suite, creating what the companies are calling the only life-cycle management solution focused on critical systems.

“Rigor has to be applied in a more flexible way” in organizations that are looking to do rapid prototyping, adapt to changes and develop software in short iterations, Hennell said.

Codice, which has partnered with LDRA prior to this announcement, also has created a persistence mechanism for the Embed-X suite. With the new tool release, LDRA can track the changes that come with agile development while continuing to provide traceability, accountability and verification demanded by critical software certifications.