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GN Nettest is a globally leading supplier of systems and test equipment for telecommunications, data communications and optical fiber networks. Leading equipment developers such as Cisco, Newbridge Networks, and Nortel rely on GN Nettest to assist them at the leading-edge of new technological advances in the communications industry.

GN Nettest provides customers with highly configurable and customizable packages to perform monitoring, transmission and emulation coupled with industry-leading automated test equipment and test suites for performance measurement, interoperability and conformance verification. GN Nettest now has over 600 employees, and continues to leverage a strong international distribution network to regularly introduce products that are "state-of-the-art." For more information on GN Nettest, see

GN Nettest's Use of Tcl

For the interWATCH series, GN Nettest's leading data communication testing products, customers can purchase an optional software module called ATAK which is written in Tcl/Tk. ATAK gives customers the ability to automate their testing processes and allows almost anyone to easily create test suites to automate repetitive tasks, improve quality and reduce time to market. Because ATAK is written in Tcl/Tk, it is easy for customers to extend their test environment and integrate the interWATCH products within their test environment. This has proven to be a strong competitive advantage for GN Nettest.

ATAK test suites use the Tcl/Tk scripting language as well as many of the extensions that have been written for the open source platform. ATAK test suites using Tcl/Tk can be used to provide simultaneous control of both the test equipment and the system under test. ATAK, with it's powerful Tcl/Tk interface, can be used to develop test suites that automate the entire testing process, modify and configure the test environment, and handle the test case execution and analysis of results - all without human intervention. Users of the system realize productivity gains, and are able to perform tests that would take months to execute manually.

Another powerful capability of the interWATCH 95000 running ATAK, is ATAK Runner, which provides a common interface for all test suites created using ATAK and written in Tcl/Tk. Multiple test cases can be selected, configured and run sequentially - on multiple interWATCH 95000 units distributed across a wide area network. Test suites executed in this configuration can identify problems the way they actually occur in real networks - with difficult latency problems identified prior to network installation. This powerful Tcl scripting capability within ATAK delivers huge cost savings to the customer and allows them to deliver better quality products to the market.

Why Tcl?

"Tcl was chosen because it was the industry standard in the automated test industry," states John Astorino, GN Nettest Applications Engineer and co-developer of ATAK. "One of our design requirements was that our products be easily integrated into existing automated test environments, which are often very complex. Extensibility and flexibility were two key attributes of Tcl that were key to our decision to use it as an integration platform."

Tcl is a powerful scripting language and because it's interpreted, it doesn't require a time consuming compilation step. This, and Tcl's ease of use, allow GN Nettest to create new applications quickly and efficiently. ATAK, which extends the Tcl platform, also delivers a powerful integration capability. Tcl makes is very easy for GN Nettest's customers to embed the interWATCH 95000 in their test environment, thus both the test environment and the GN Nettest equipment can be controlled via the same Tcl script.

Extensibility Provides Competitive Advantage

The use of Tcl makes the implementation of the test suite environment easy for customers, and it allows them to write their own test suites to be run with ATAK runner. Customers can also easily extend and customize existing test suites. Tcl is commonly used within the automated test environment in the communications network industry, so customers don't have to learn a new language and can complete the integration and test scripts quickly. Complete support for the Tix toolkit extensions for Tcl provide users with higher-level widgets to quickly build their own customized GUIs and results screens.

"Being able to provide users with the ability to build and customize their own test suites and to extend their existing test environment is a key competitive advantage for us," states John Astorino, Applications Engineer and co-developer of ATAK. "Customers quickly understand the power of ATAK and Tcl - all it takes is a couple of examples of how it can be used in their test environment."

More About ATAK

ATAK (Automated Testing Authoring Kit) is an integrated development environment that allows customers to quickly develop and run automated test suites for the interWATCH 95000/96000, which is a powerful ATM/LAN/WAN analyzer and an important GN Nettest product. The interWATCH 95000 is used by global service providers and private network operators to install, provide and maintain state-of-the-art communications systems and components, and enables regression testing, verification and quality assurance.

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