Patent Number: 6,167,537

Title: Communications protocol for an automated testing system

Abstract: A communications protocol for an automated testing system is provided which governs the generation and transmission of data packets within the automated testing system. The automated testing system is capable of being distributed over a network, such as the Internet, and is used for testing hardware and software. A plurality of users operating computers interface to the automated testing system via user interfaces, which preferably are graphical user interfaces. Each user interface displays test parameter choices to the user from which the user may select test parameters relating to a test to be performed. The user interfaces generate data packets in response to selections by the users and output the data packets onto the network. The data packets output from the user interfaces comprise information relating to test parameters selected by the user, commands indicating that performance of a test is being requested, and an address of the location to which the packet is being sent. The data packets are routed to one or more dispatcher machines located on the network which are designated by the addresses contained in the data packets. Each of the dispatcher machines maintains a list of tests to be performed. The dispatcher machine designated by the address in the data packet receives the data packet and updates the list of tests to be performed. A plurality of test machines are in communication with the dispatcher machines via the network. When a test machine is available, the available test machine generates an availability data packet which indicates that the test machine is available to perform a test. Each of the availability data packets contains an address of a dispatcher machine. These availability data packets are sent over the network and routed to the dispatcher machine designated by the address contained in the availability data packet. Upon receiving an availability data packet, the dispatcher machine determines whether one or more of the tests on the list of tests maintained by the dispatcher machine is capable of being performed by the test machine which generated the availability data packet. If one or more of the tests listed are capable of being performed by the available test machine, the dispatcher machine instructs the test machine to perform one of the tests, preferably the test having the highest priority.

Inventors: Silva; Stephen (Fort Collins, CO), Yip; Thomas (Fort Collins, CO), Allison; Michael S. (Fort Collins, CO), Sprague; Fred (Portland, OR), Gillespie; Richard W. (Fort Collins, CO)

Assignee: Hewlett-Packard Company

International Classification: H04L 12/26 (20060101); G01R 31/319 (20060101); G01R 31/28 (20060101); G06F 011/24 ()

Expiration Date: 12/26/2013