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Testing and Certification

The BACnet standard, even with all of its Addenda, does not specify how a given BACnet system should be tested or certified. BACnet defines how particular interactions should work and is primarily aimed at designers of devices and systems that have the desire to cooperatively interoperate reliably. All along, it was clear that a method for testing and certifying conformance to BACnet would be needed, and several different but related efforts took place.

One of the key charters for the Standing Standards Project Committee SSPC-135 which was formed after the public release of the standard, was to create a companion testing standard for BACnet. This document details the procedures that must be following to verify that a BACnet device does what it claims to do, and therefore has a chance of interoperating correctly without problems. After several years of effort, this draft standard ASHRAE 135.1P was released for public review in 2000. The procedures themselves are an outgrowth of years of practical testing and experimentation performed by the NIST BACnet Interoperability Testing Consortium. After two public reviews this new standard was published by ASHRAE in June 2003 as ASHRAE Standard 135.1.

Dismayed with the slow progress toward the emergence of a testing agency for BACnet, a non-profit group was formed called the BACnet Manufacturer's Association (BMA). One of their goals was to catalyze the creation of a testing agency, so they formed an independent third party company called the BACnet Testing Laboratory (BTL) with the charter to establish a testing and certifying program for BACnet devices using the draft testing procedures from 135.1P. Today this agency is proactively developing their certification procedures and has accepted applications for devices to be tested and ultimately to receive a BTL "mark." BTL has been performing actual product testing since 2001. The BTL is currently testing a small group of B-AAC devices, and is also capable of testing B-ASC, B-SA and B-SS devices (see Annex L in the BACnet standard for definitions of these acronyms). The BTL is preparing to start testing a small group of B-BC devices sometime in the spring of 2004.

The BACnet Interest Group Europe (BIG-EU) is preparing to start their own product testing and certification program in 2004. The BMA and the BIG-EU are working together on testing requirements and testing tools, and it is their intention that the two programs will use a common test suite.

It is worth noting that as of November 2003, the BTL is still limited in the scope of its testing and certification program. At present there are no "client side" tests for example. The procedures for doing this kind of testing are defined in 135.1 so it is only a matter of time before the real-world testing can catch up.

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