AdaCore Announces “Project Coverage”

The first Open Source code coverage project for DO-178B and safety-critical systems

Paris and New York, June 5, 2008 – AdaCore, together with Open Wide, ENST, and LIP6, and with financial support from French public funds, today announced the initiation of Project Coverage. The first Open Source project of its kind, Project Coverage will produce a Free Software coverage analysis toolset together with artifacts that allow the tools to be used by developers of safety-critical and mission-critical projects, including systems that need to be certified under safety standards such as DO-178B.

“Being strongly rooted in Free Software and having many customers in the Avionics and DO-178B domain, AdaCore was instrumental in getting this project off the ground,” said Roberto Di Cosmo, President of the Free and Open Source Software group of System@tic, the R&D competitive cluster out of which Project Coverage has grown.

The key insight of Project Coverage is that code coverage can greatly benefit from recent advances in hardware virtualization and emulation technologies.

“By virtualizing the target hardware, Project Coverage tools can execute the target binary code unmodified on a host computer, such as a GNU Linux or Windows machine, and collect binary branch information,” said Olivier Hainque, technical lead of Project Coverage at AdaCore. “The collected information is then analyzed off-line and mapped back to the original sources thanks to the debugging information contained in the executable.”

“Our virtualization technology is based on QEMU. We are extending it, first to output execution traces, including binary branch coverage information, and second to make it usable in industrial contexts typically found in the avionics domain,” continued Hainque.

“Because QEMU works by compiling the target object code into the host object code, virtualization is more effective than direct execution on the target,” said Tristan Gingold, Senior Software Engineer at AdaCore and QEMU expert. “The speed advantage of the host over the target makes up for the loss in emulation performance and you gain the convenience and availability of the host environment over the target.”

Beyond the production of useful tools and certification material for industrial users, an important goal of the project is to raise awareness and interest about safety-critical and certification issues in the Free Software/Open Source community.

“It’s all about cross fertilization between the DO-178B and Free Software/Open Source communities,” said Cyrille Comar, the AdaCore representative on the DO-178C committee. “The DO-178B community, with its approach anchored in requirements-based testing, has shown us that the source isn’t everything in safety-critical systems, while the Open Source community has shown us that being open and having high-quality and widely available tools is essential to extend the benefit of state-of-the-art technologies from niche markets to a wider audience of software developers.

“The approach put forth by Project Coverage features several strong points,” said Robert Dewar, President and CEO of AdaCore. “Project Coverage tools will be easy to use and deploy since they run on the host computer. They will be independent of the programming language and will work for Ada, C, and C++. Project Coverage tools are also designed to be non-intrusive and work directly with the final executable. No specialized hardware will be required to extract coverage information.”

Project Coverage tools will be freely available, and industrial users will have the option to purchase high-quality professional support together with DO-178B qualification material.

In summary Project Coverage smartly combines several significant but independent trends in today’s software technology landscape (Free Software/Open Source, Virtualization, DO-178B qualification, etc.) producing a unique code coverage solution that safety-critical and non safety-critical developers can use in their projects.

For more information on Project Coverage please go to

About Project Coverage
Project Coverage is partially funded by the regional authorities of Paris and the Ile-de-France district and the French Ministry of Industry, under the auspices of the Free & Open Source Software group headed by Roberto Di Cosmo in System@tic, the R&D competitive cluster located in Paris and its surroundings. The institutions participating in Project Coverage include AdaCore, Open Wide (who will provide an avionics test bed and study the impact of MIL-STD-1553, ARINC 629, and similar avionics standards for Project Coverage), ENST, and LIP6, who will generalize the Project Coverage approach to distributed systems and languages running on a virtual machine.

About AdaCore
Founded in 1994, AdaCore is the leading provider of commercial software solutions for Ada, a modern programming language designed for large, long-lived applications where safety, security, and reliability are critical. AdaCore’s flagship product is the GNAT Pro development environment, which comes with expert on-line support and is available on more platforms than any other Ada technology. AdaCore has an extensive world-wide customer base; please see for further information.
Ada and GNAT Pro continue to see growing usage in high-integrity and safety-certified applications, including commercial aircraft avionics, military systems, air traffic management/control, railroad systems, and medical devices, and in security-sensitive domains such as financial services. AdaCore has North American headquarters in New York and European headquarters in Paris.

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