Tektronix Banks on Python to Ease Test Bottlenecks

Open source driver package helps engineers frees engineers from manual test driver creation.

Spencer Chin, Senior Editor

November 14, 2023

2 Min Read
Tektronix Python_Context_Slide.png
Tektronix has developed a driver package that enables engineers to leverage the strengths of Python for test automation.Tektronix

At a Glance

  • Tektronix now offering open source drivers for popular Python language.
  • Drivers eliminate need for engineers to develop own drivers.

Python has become a popular software package for test automation engineers because it allows the creation of complex, multi-protocol applications while maintaining concise, readable syntax. To facilitate the use of Python in test, Tektronix, Inc, has introduced an open-source Python instrument driver package. Available free of charge, the package, called tm_devices, provides a native Python user experience for instrument automation.

With integration into daily workflows and utilizing it with a preferred Integrated Development Environment (IDE), customers can now experience the power of auto-complete, precise type hinting, comprehensive built-in help, real-time syntax checking and enhanced debugging capabilities, giving test engineers unlimited capabilities for seamless instrument automation. The open-source Python driver package is designed to work across a wide range of Tektronix and Keithley devices to facilitate ongoing development and updates, ensuring users in the test and measurement space have access to the latest features and improvements.

Andrew McCann, Innovation Lead at Tektronix, noted during an online press briefing that while the test automation market is growing, the hurdles have been in software. There remain several validation and test engineering pain points. “Engineers are building and maintaining their own in-house drivers,” said McCann. “Debugging is trial and error driven, and SCPI strings have no syntax checking.” Automation has in the past  meant learning and using dated string-based command APIs with shortcomings such as instrument-specific command sets, guess-and-check syntax checking, and low-visibility debugging.

The open-source nature of Python encourages collaboration and customization by test engineers to design test regimes to their specific needs.  The driver package, which can be installed within seconds, gives users Python auto completion, type hinting and real-time syntax checking — all free and open source. The package has become an integral part of the Tektronix development pipeline and quality processes, and Tektronix is using the same powerful tools internally to ensure an additional layer of quality and scrutiny is paid to the technology on an ongoing basis. 

The driver package is now available globally via the Python Package Index (PyPI) at pypi.org/project/tm-devices.)

About the Author(s)

Spencer Chin

Senior Editor, Design News

Spencer Chin is a Senior Editor for Design News, covering the electronics beat, which includes semiconductors, components, power, embedded systems, artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality, and other related subjects. He is always open to ideas for coverage. Spencer has spent many years covering electronics for brands including Electronic Products, Electronic Buyers News, EE Times, Power Electronics, and electronics360. You can reach him at [email protected] or follow him at @spencerchin.

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