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LeWIS - Let's Write Intricate Simulators!

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LeWIS - Let’s Write Intricate Simulators.

Lewis is a Python framework for simulating hardware devices. It is compatible with both Python 2 and 3.

Lewis can be run directly using Python 2.7 or >= 3.4, or using a prepackaged Docker image that includes all dependencies. See relevant usage sections for details.

Resources: GitHubDockerHubDockerfileReadTheDocsPyPI

Lewis was previously named “Plankton” but, due to a package with the same name on PyPI, we decided to rename the project.

Lewis is licensed under GPL v3 or later.

Purpose and Use Cases

Lewis is being developed in the context of instrument control at the ESS, but it is general enough to be used in many other contexts that require detailed, stateful software simulations of hardware devices.

We consider a detailed device simulation to be one that can communicate using the same protocol as the real device, and that can very closely approximate real device behaviour in terms of what is seen through this protocol. This includes gradual processes, side-effects and error conditions.

The purpose of Lewis is to provide a common framework to facilitate the development of such simulators. The framework provides a common set of tools, including communication protocol services, which helps minimize code replication and allows the developer of a simulated device to focus on capturing device behaviour.

Potential use cases for detailed device simulators include:

  • Replacing the physical device when developing and testing software that interfaces with the device

  • Testing failure conditions without risking damage to the physical device

  • Automated system and unit tests of software that communicates with the device

  • Perform “dry runs” against test scripts that are to be run on the real device

Using a simulation for the above has the added benefit that, unlike most real devices, a simulation may be sped up / fast-forwarded past any lengthy delays or processes that occur in the device.


Brief Terminology

Devices and Interfaces are two independent concepts in Lewis. The Device is model for the device behaviour and internal memory. A Device can be represented using a StateMachine, but it does not have to be. A Device does not include anything specific to the communication protocol with the Device. An Interface provides a protocol binding to a Device, such as TCP stream or EPICS. The Device and Interface are created as part of a Simulation that provides a “heart beat” and other environmental aspects.

What Can You Do With Lewis?

  • Create new Devices to closely imitate the internal behaviour and memory of something

  • Optionally make a Device work as a StateMachine via StateMachineDevice to give rich behaviours

  • Create one or more Interfaces over your Device to expose it as an EPICS IOC, a TCP listener, or on any other bespoke protocol you like

  • Access and control the Device while it is running via a “back door”

  • Access and control the Simulation while it is running via a “back door”

Additional Documentation

Documentation can be found at ReadTheDocs. It can also be generated from the sources:

$ git clone
$ cd lewis
$ pip install -r requirements-dev.txt
$ sphinx-build -b html docs/ docs/_build/html

The docs/_build/html directory will then contain the full documentation in HTML format.

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