US Navy Ships Complete Missions with Software Developed in Xojo
Electronics suite designed by Azimuth, Inc. centralizes data in one place for the first time, giving crew members full situational awareness onboard US Navy patrol boats
Azimuth, Inc., a Service-Connected Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) specializing in engineering, fabrication and engineering services, created a touch-screen enabled software suite with Xojo now being used onboard a third US Navy patrol boat. The software suite, called the Craft Integrated Electronics Suite (CIES®), centralizes mission-critical data from a variety of sources in one place for the first time, giving crew members complete situational awareness of both the ships’ systems and the area battle space. Azimuth also recently implemented the software on a US Department of Commerce NOAA boat.
To date, more than 50 crew members have successfully operated the suites across multiple boats with ease and completed missions in drug trafficking interdictions, biometric data collection and analysis, and mission event data logging.
The US Navy approached Azimuth, Inc. to create a solution that would integrate all of the electronics systems for their patrol boats, smaller vessels used for shallow-water combat missions that are specifically designed to take advantage of advanced networking technologies.
The various patrol boats operate with a multi-person crew so it was essential for Azimuth’s Senior Software Engineer, Brian Fellers, and his team to design a suite with a tactical display system that crew members can easily view and control from any station on the craft, while each simultaneously worked to complete their mission at hand. The suite requires a smaller screen size, uncompromised reliability and ease of use, while integrating the ship’s diverse input devices responsible for navigation, radar, communication, video cameras and other functions. Rough waters, temperature extremes and a salt water environment also posed design challenges, specifically in the user interface area.
With clear marching orders, Brian and his team evaluated the best software development tool for the job. In the past, Azimuth had relied on Microsoft Visual Studio, but Brian needed a cross-platform development tool that offered rapid development capabilities and easy customization for multiple boats. He discovered Xojo when a coworker was using it to test rapid development capabilities and began using it for software developed for the Navy ever since.
"With each new ship we can increase the feature set, but still reuse the existing project as a base. Being able to edit and reuse the code easily has saved us both significant time and money. And with all of the built-in Xojo widgets, we can spend more time enhancing the user experience and improving our product instead of writing those widgets from scratch."
Brian and his team were able to develop customized suites for several of the Navy’s patrol boats because of the following features:
- Cross Platform Deployment: Xojo makes it possible to develop software on one platform and deploy on multiple platforms with native-looking results. While the primary operating system on each craft was Microsoft Windows, crew members and other operators could bring on laptops running OS X to perform their job functions.
- Code Sharing: Brian and his team were able to reuse code for their Xojo desktop apps and create Xojo web applications that nearly mirrored the executable files simply by copying and pasting code between the two versions. The web version was important to allow operators to monitor current operations off craft for mission and educational purposes. In addition, the web version provided access to craft monitoring for those who did not have the desktop executable installed (for security purposes or otherwise).
- Rapid Application Development: Xojo is a rapid application development environment that gives programmers the power to write, test and ship software four times faster than C++ or Java.
- Automation: With Xojo’s "Build Automation" feature, users can visually drag and drop build steps to execute common actions, like copying files and running IDE scripts, before and/or after an application is built. All of this can be done from within a given project.
- Code Editor: The Xojo code editor includes an auto-complete feature that helps users write code faster with fewer errors by offering suggestions on valid syntax. Also included are code assistants that are a contextual menu of syntax options that help users code faster and with fewer errors.