Enabling Automation and Measurement Reuse
What are File Tags?
File tags are a new enhancement to the M1 Common Data Format (CDF). The CDF already allows you to save waveforms taken from any manufacturer's scope, digitizer, or EDA simulation tool in the same format and use this data offline with M1 Reader™ or share them easily with collaborators.
File tags improve upon this capability by allowing you to attach a wide variety of descriptive information to the saved waveform. This information can then later be viewed or searched without having to actually open the waveform in M1.
M1 automatically creates a number of standard file tags for you, including such useful information as:
- The model number and serial number of the scope or digitizer system that acquired the data
- The M1 serial number and version number used
- What signals are present
- Summary results for all open measurements
You are also free to create whatever additional tags you wish, which is where the true power of file tags becomes apparent.
Why would I want to use File Tags?
There are a number of situations where being able to store additional information with a waveform can improve your productivity or make your work simpler. You can probably think of some yourself, but here are a few examples.
You are running an automation setup where M1 is being controlled from an external instrument sequencing program in order to analyze your signals at various combinations of parameters such as voltage, temperature, pin number, etc. You may try to give each saved waveform a unique name that describes the full set of conditions under which it was acquired. However, as additional parameters are considered, such file names can quickly become unwieldy. And if someone decides to rename the file later for any reason, that important information about the acquisition conditions is now lost.
With file tags, however, all of that acquisition condition information can be stored inside the file, where it will remain untouched if someone decided to rename the file. And because there is no limit on the number of file tags that can be added to a file, you can include every parameter that you think is important without having to deal with massively long file names.
It's probably happened to you, maybe more than once. As you move on to a new project, all of the test fixtures etc. from the previous project get moved to some kind of storage. Then 6 months later, Sales comes to you with a customer question on the old part. Maybe the customer wants to see some additional measurement that wasn't in the original datasheet, or is questioning a datasheet parameter because they're seeing much worse numbers in their lab and want you to reconfirm it.
So you have to go digging for the old test fixtures and parts (Bob stored those away, but he's left the company now and no one knows exactly where they are...), try to recreate the desired parameter setup (hmm, we have new power supplies that can't supply the required voltage/current for this older part – what did we do with the old ones?), and so on. You expend a lot of time and effort that would be better spent working on the new design.
With M1 and file tags, the story is very different. When you did the original measurements, you saved all your waveforms and stored all of the parameter information in those files in the form of file tags. So when Sales calls, you can easily go to your file repository and find the appropriate file, load it into M1, and do the new measurement. If you just need to confirm a number in the datasheet, you may not even need to start up M1 since the contents of file tags are externally viewable.