Graphical User Interfaces are at the heart of the cockpit. The raise of new interfaces in the consumer market (smartphones, tablets) opened the path to the introduction of innovative GUI in the cockpit (tactile, animations, “pixel perfect” graphics, …). That’s the reason why AIRBUS, jointly with THALES and DASSAULT, initiated the development of a new standard for the specification of GUI as a complement to the existing ARINC 661. As a support this new language, it was decided to develop an editor for this language based on Eclipse and to open source it to favour the diffusion of the standard. The final goal is not only to develop a language dedicated to system design, but really a “pivot” language that could answer the needs of all teams dealing with cockpit GUI (systems, flight tests, maintenance, technical documentation,…).
The scope of the project is an editor for the new A661 part 2 standard. The editor is based on Eclipse IDE and has been initially developed by OBEO and funded by AIRBUS.
The project includes an interpreting engine that is coupled to the editor to simulate the Graphical User Interfaces. It is based on Qt technologies and has been initially developed by THALES.
Definition of the standard itself is not in the scope of the project and will be lead and documented by the ARINC 661 commitee.
ARINC661 part 2 project defines a language that can be used by any airframe manufacturer to formally specify modern graphical user interface (tactile support, animation, ...). The PolarSys NG661 Designer project proposes an open source tool that allows to specify and simulate HMI using the ARINC661 Part 2 Language.
The editor allows to build a specification model for graphical user interfaces from simple objects (widgets) to complex pages. It will contain 3 parts:
- Specification of interfaces: tabular edition of input parameters, output parameters and events
- Specification of the representation: graphic edition of the tree of graphic primitives (lines, rectangles, interactive areas, …)
- Specification of the behaviour: graphical edition of state-machines (including basic scripting)
The editor generates XML files based on the ARINC 661 part 2 language that can be executed thanks to the interpreting engine.
ARINC 661 part 2 project will define a language that can be used by any airframe manufacturer on any kind of aircraft to specify graphical user interfaces look and behaviour. This language will enable benefits to be realized at lower costs to the airlines and wit less risk to the suppliers. An open-source editor will favour the adoption and the deployment of this new standard while allowing all interested actors to contribute to the development of the tools.
The interpreting engine is based on Qt libraries (GPL v3) and other external modules (GPL v2) that need to be analysed. In case of license issues, a fallback solution could be to propose to the users an easy way to download the required dependencies.
The first build is ready for contribution. The ARINC 661 part 2 standard is currently under development with a final draft expected for end 2017.
Until the first official release of the standard, the editor and interpreting engine may be updated every 6 months to reflect the latest changes in the standard. On-going activities led by the ARINC 661 working group contribute to the spread of the standard and gather more and more actors interested by this project.