3.2. It's Not Saint Paul's, But... Principles for Test System Architecture

One of the most stately, impressive buildings in Europe is Saint Paul's Cathedral in London. With understated elegance and restrained majesty inside and out, it has reliably provided a place of worship for generations of Londoners since its completion in 1710, shortly after the Great Fire of London. It withstood the savage Nazi bombing of South Britain in the early part of World War II, as well as the fearsome V-l and V-2 rocket attacks as the war drew to its close.

Those of us who design test systems for a living could learn a lot from Sir Christopher Wren, the prolific architect who designed and built Saint Paul's Cathedral (as well as much of the rest of old London after the Fire). He built a cathedral that survived the German Blitz even though the structure was more than 200 years old at the time. How many of our test systems can withstand the tight deadlines and project pressure that occurs as the planned project end date approaches (often referred to as "crunch mode") on even three or four projects? The design and layout of London still work after all these years, although the city had a little trouble adjusting to the technological advance of the automobile. Do our test systems respond well to changes? Wren's works also have an elegance and simplicity that make them simultaneously powerful and obvious. Can we sit down with a typical test system and easily understand how to use it?

All too often, ...

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