Is anyone using ATML for other than tests and test results?
The standard (IEEE 1671) also includes XML schemas to describe an instrument, test station, ITA, and UUT. Is anyone investigating using those standards? If we had all the pieces of our test systems in files of those formats, it really opens up a lot of possibilities.
Test Results are, by far, the most commonly of all of the ATML schemas - and are especially powerful for a couple of reasons (beyond a nicely-formatted-out-of-the-box-printable report).
You can apply custom schemas to them: we have a collection of schemas that display the reports differently so those in different roles can see the same data and information formatted in a way that is easily consumable for them. The data in the report doesn't change, just the way that it's displayed (we can have a verbose report for quality, a medium report for testers, a summary report for line managers - all reading the same file. Custom schemas work with many apps too - load an ATML file in Microsoft Word or Excel, and it'll ask you if you want to apply the schema - if you do, your data filtering and ordering capabilities are enhanced.
It's a great transitional format: if a customer doesn't want a database, then they often just ask for a text file with all of the results that they're going to parse by hand. And that's fine, but we'll often turn on ATML reporting in parallel so that when they come back in 2 years for us to update their systems to put their data into a database, we don't loose all of the data they've already acquired (we can write a simple sweeper that scans folders of exisiting ATML files, and uploads their data to the database).
Ok, but you didn't ask about reports The other ATML schemas are relatively rare, and are usually only used in industries (and particular companies within those industries) where they've decide on them as a wide standard. That's usually a decision that was made a long time ago, and tools have been built up over the years, coupling the requirement to use ATML.
That doesn't mean that they're not useful, of course. If you're looking for a way to store information like instrument and system definitions, the ATML standard is a great place to start. Why? Becuase it's a standard. It's not an incredibly pervasive standard, but it's also not completely custom. And it's a standard that a lot of people worked on, so a lot of thought went into it, and it's evolved. Try to make your own custom format from scratch, and you'll miss stuff. Like any standard, there'll be things in there that you don't need, and there'll be things that you wish were in there, so you may need to extend the schemas (very rare), but at least that capability exists.
The non-report non-test standards are super helpful in the dynamically-assigned production model, where scanning a UUT serial number barcode triggers an indentify/authorise chain from the UUT up to the system (and all parts in between) to validate the toolchain. I've seen a lot of people recreate this model in a database, and the ATML model can be a good middle-step.