CableLabs has released an early version of a test suite for interactive TV developers writing applications based on its Enhanced Binary Interchange Format specification.
The "alpha" version of the Enhanced TV Test Suite comprises a set of test EBIF applications, a test plan and test controller software including source code.
According to CableLabs, the test suite provides preliminary test coverage for developers of EBIF user agents. EBIF user agents are the software components that process an EBIF-based application on a set-top box.
CableLabs said it will continue to expand test coverage and provide updates to the suite in the coming months. The test suite does not use software licensed from other vendors, CableLabs senior vice president of communications Mike Schwartz said.
EBIF, part of CableLabs' ETV initiative, is designed to run on millions of legacy set-top boxes that don't support the more advanced Java-based tru2way middleware.
Cable operators are expecting to widely support EBIF in their set-top boxes by the end of 2009, driven in large part by the desire to support interactive ads on cable TV networks through Canoe Ventures, a joint venture of the six biggest U.S. MSOs.
"ETV is going to play an important role in the interactive digital video services MSOs will be introducing as indicated by the large volume of EBIF and ETV applications on display at the recent Cable Show," Steve Reynolds, Comcast senior vice president of premises technology, said in a statement. "This new ETV initiative from CableLabs is another example of the cross-industry collaboration that will lead to new ways for consumers to interact with content on their TVs."
In addition, CableLabs announced that its lab facilities will include support for the ETV platform. The ETV Lab includes what the consortium said is a comprehensive collection of ETV user agents for both legacy set-top boxes and tru2way-based devices from major cable operators, as well as test applications, example commercial applications, and various test tools. The ETV Lab is open to application developers, programmers, cable operators, and device manufacturers.
"Our test program and our interoperability process will continue to advance quickly and stands ready to serve suppliers when they are ready to participate," said So Vang, CableLabs vice president of OpenCable advanced media platforms.
The CableLabs ETV specifications can be found at http://www.opencable.com/specifications/etv.html.