Compatibility and interoperability in test systems: Time to change our vocabulary?

We all know that compatibility and interoperability are key desires in test systems.  However, every time I hear a user ask, “Is that compatible with X?” or “Are those products interoperable?”, I hesitate.  The problem is that these are ambiguous terms, and mean different things to different people.  I usually reply with a question, “Without using those two terms, what is it you want?”  

Compatible and interoperable are not well defined terms.  I’m sure there is a paper somewhere that defines them.  And I’m also sure there is another paper that defines them differently.  I’m as guilty as anyone else.  I’ve been involved with modular standards such as VXI, PXI, and AXIe for nearly three decades.  As standards bodies we often do “interoperability testing”, where we test different combinations of chassis, modules, and software.  But is this really interoperability testing, compatibility testing, or something else?  The truth is that we often use all these terms qualitatively.

In this blog post, I will suggest some alternate terms to be more precise.  Go here.

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By Larry DJ

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