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ADL is a result of a collaborative study of automated test technology conducted by The Open Group and the SunTest division of Sun Microsystems Laboratories and funded by the Japanese MITI's Information-technology Promotion Agency. The project began in 1991.

ADL, or the Assertion Definition Language, is a formal grammar for describing the behavior of interfaces. This very general concept can be applied to any interface for which the behavior can be described. The purpose of this grammar is two-fold. First, it permits the translation of the formal grammar into natural languages such as English and Japanese. Second, it permits the automatic translation of the formal grammar into tests that will evaluate the behavior of an implementation of the interface being described.

The collection of tools that accomplishes this task is known as the ADL Translation System (ADLTS). The core of this system is the ADL test translator (adlt). The ADL compiler gathers together the interface specifications, helper functions, and test data to generate the test case source code, test documentation, and "man pages".

The ADL Translation System is freely available. Users may do anything with the system, as long as they continue to give credit to the ADL project.

The current version is 2.1. It supports the description, documentation and test generation of interfaces written in C, C++, IDL and Java.

ADL 1 was developed in C++. For ADL 2, it was decided to use Sun's Java language to ensure maximum portability of the translation system across open systems as well as Microsoft Windows 95/NT. For technical reasons, ADL 2 is based on version 1.1 of the Java Development Kit.

Grammars are described and parsed using Sun's Java Compiler Compiler (JavaCC).

Generated tests are driven by The Open Group's
Test Environment Toolkit (TET).

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