Embedded Software Testing Using C: Here are the Basics

By Prometteur solutions 17 Min Read

Welcome to our blog post on embedded software testing with C.

Embedded software testing is an important part of the software development process. Its focus is mainly to ensure that the final product comes out bug-free and meets the product design/requirements.

Although testing embedded software using the C language can be a challenging task, it is worth the trouble in the end. It is challenging because the tester needs to be knowledgeable about both hardware and software.

In this article, we will serve you with an extensive discussion on the basics of embedded software testing with C. To meet your needs, we will dive deeper into other aspects of the topic. These include a clear definition of embedded testing with the main purpose and the best practices for testing embedded systems with C.

Check out our in-depth guide on Automation Testing Tutorials for Beginners

We will also take a look at automation testing tools and how some embedded testing tools are used to debug and produce error-free products.

What Is Embedded Testing?

We will define embedded testing as a testing process that evaluates both functional and non-functional software and hardware attributes in an embedded system. This ensures that the final outcome of the product is free from bugs, errors and vulnerabilities.

According to Aditi, embedded testing verifies and validates if/if not the final product meets users’ requirements.

Aditi goes further to say that embedded testing is more specifically useful in finding the following;

  • ·  Identify software bugs
  • ·  Helps in reducing risks for both users and the company
  • ·  Also helps in reducing development and cost of maintenance
  • ·  It leads to improved performance
  • ·  Leads to a more satisfying user interface.

Understanding the Basics of Embedded Software Testing with C

Embedded software testing using C has over time proven to be effective in ensuring the reliability and functionality of embedded systems.

Let us look at some of the basics of embedded software testing with C.

Understand the Requirements

The first step in testing embedded systems is to understand the requirements. Try to understand the following; the purpose of the system, the inputs it will receive, expected outputs, and consider limitations or constraints.

Create Test Cases

The test cases are simply the inputs and expected outputs. They are designed to verify the functionality of the system. Ensure you consider the user requirement when creating your test cases.

Test Execution

Once you are done creating the test cases, it’s time for execution. This needs to happen in the system. Test execution may include both functional and non-functional testing.


The basics of embedded software testing with C require debugging during testing. You will need to use embedded software testing tools for debugging in this case.


Documentation is part of the embedded software testing techniques. It is important for the success of the whole process.

So, ensure to document the testing process, including the test cases, test code, test results, and any defects found.

This documentation is important for improving future testing efforts. It is also useful in ensuring the system meets the product design and user requirements.

Repeat Testing

Software testing is not a one-time but a continuous process. Tso, it is very important that you repeat the process until you get the required result.

Repeating the process is helpful in ensuring that the new changes do not introduce new issues.

These are the basics of performing embedded software testing with C. Following them will help in ensuring that your product is reliable and functional.

Automated Embedded Software Testing Tools

Embedded software testing tools enable easy creation and implementation of test cases that run repeatedly and consistently. With this mode of implementation, they ensure the code works as intended.

Additionally, embedded software testing tools can automatically detect errors in codes before launching the product. This saves time, money and other resources. It also saves the company from embarrassment that may lead to severe business/brand damage.

For example, using the automated C Unit Testing Tools, developers produce high-quality codes that are also error-free.

Examples of Automated Embedded Software Testing Tools

·  Vector Software

·  KlocWork

·  Parasoft

·  TestPlant

·  Tessy


Why are Embedded Software Testing Techniques Unique?

There are several reasons why using embedded software testing techniques is unique.

The First Unique Feature of Embedded Software Testing Techniques

To begin with, embedded systems designs can function in a specific hardware environment to interact directly with physical devices or sensors.

This means the testing technique considers the behaviours of the hardware components and the system’s response to inputs from the physical world.

Embedded testing processes ensure the correct functioning of software in different environments. This may include the temperature, humidity, and instances of vibration.

The Second Unique Feature of Embedded Software Testing Techniques

Our second unique finding of embedded systems testing is that since the systems are designed for critical functions, serious and thorough testing is important.

Using embedded software testing techniques in this case will help in reducing or even eliminating software failures. This avoids any issues that will lead to serious consequences, including loss of life, injury, or financial loss using the product.

Therefore, it is non-negotiable that embedded system testing go through rigorous testing processes for reliability and safety.

The Third Unique Feature of Embedded Software Testing Techniques

Thirdly on our list on why embedded testing is unique is tied to the programming languages and tools. These are specific to the hardware architecture and do a good job in ensuring reliability and safety of use.

So, if you ever wonder why embedded software testing techniques have to always be complex, there you have it.

The testers need to have a deep understanding of both the hardware and software to identify and fix issues.

The Fourth Unique Feature of Embedded Software Testing Techniques

Finally, testing embedded systems requires specialized testing tools and techniques.

This is why the testers must know how to use simulators or emulators to test the software without the actual hardware. Also, they can deploy the hardware-in-the-loop (HIL) testing to the software’s interaction with physical components.

To summarise our whole point here is to simply say that the whole embedded system testing process is unique in nature. From the beginning to the end, it requires specialized knowledge, tools, and techniques to ensure the software’s reliability and safety.

For best results, embedded software testing with C is the answer.

How Does Embedded Systems Affect Testing Methods?

The world and a lot of its important activities are today driven by embedded systems. So, it is safe to say that they have become an integral part of our daily lives. 

Embedded systems may include cars, home appliances, to big technologies in aerospace and other industries.

These systems have over time, improved human interactions with machines and how they help us in achieving our goals.

However, there are some unique challenges with the embedded software testing techniques. And it is very much tied to the fact that the testers need a good and reliable knowledge of hardware and software.

Additionally, the testers will need to have unique testing techniques that are uncommon among other testers developers and testers.

As experts in this field, we highly recommend the adoption of embedded software testing with C for reliability and safety.

Embedded Software Debugging Tools

Embedded software debugging tools are essential for developers to detect and correct errors and bugs in software running on embedded devices.

Here are some common embedded software debugging tools:

Integrated Development Environment (IDE)

An IDE is a software application that provides a comprehensive environment for software development, debugging, and testing. It includes a source code editor, compiler, debugger, and other tools.


An emulator is a software or hardware device that simulates the behaviour of an embedded system. It allows developers to test and debug their software on a computer before deploying it on the target hardware.


A debugger is a software tool that allows developers to monitor the execution of their software and identify and fix errors. Debuggers can be integrated with IDEs or used as standalone tools.

Logic Analyzers

A logic analyzer is a tool that captures and displays digital signals on an embedded system. It helps developers to identify and debug problems related to timing, signal quality, and protocol violations.


An oscilloscope captures and displays analogue signals on an embedded system. It helps developers to identify and debug problems related to voltage levels, noise, and signal integrity.

JTAG Debuggers

JTAG (Joint Test Action Group) is a standard for debugging embedded systems. JTAG debuggers allow developers to communicate with the system’s microprocessor and inspect the state of its registers, memory, and other resources.


A profiler is a tool that collects data on the performance of an embedded system’s software. It helps developers to identify and optimize code that is causing performance bottlenecks.

The choice of embedded software debugging tools depends on the specific needs of the project and the target hardware platform.

Explore this fascinating aspect of TEST AUTOMATION FRAMEWORKS

Embedded Software Testing Frameworks

When we mention the term “embedded software testing frameworks” we are referring to tools, libraries, and methodologies designs. These are specially for assisting software development, and developers to test and debug their embedded software systems.

Embedded software testing frameworks are mostly automated and their processes include;

automated test generation, test execution, and reporting of test results.

Some popular embedded software testing frameworks include:


Unity is a lightweight testing framework for embedded systems. It offers test discovery, parameterized tests, and test suites. It is open-source and easy to use.


CppUTest is a C++ unit testing framework designed specifically for embedded systems. It offers features such as mock objects, test doubles, and memory leak detection.

Google Test

Google Test is a popular testing framework for C++ code that can also be used for embedded software testing. It provides features such as parameterized tests, test fixtures, and mock objects.

Robot Framework

Robot Framework is an open-source test automation framework that can be used for testing embedded software systems. It supports different programming languages. It also offers features such as keyword-driven testing and test data management.

Best Practices for Embedded Software Testing with C

Embedded software testing with C requires careful planning and execution. This is to ensure that the software meets its requirements and is reliable.

Here are some best practices for testing embedded systems with C:

Define test cases based on requirements

Use your test requirements to define your test cases. Make sure it covers all the requirements of the embedded system.

This is crucial as it will help ensure the software meets its functional and non-functional requirements.

Use a test framework

A test framework such as CUnit or Unity can help you organize and automate your tests.

These frameworks provide tools for defining and running tests, and for reporting test results.

Test early and often: Testing should start early in the development process and continue throughout the development cycle.

This will help you to catch errors and defects as early as possible when they are easier and less expensive to fix.

Use static analysis tools

This is another best practice of embedded software testing with C.

Static analysis tools help to identify potential issues in your code before you even start testing.

These tools can detect issues such as buffer overflows, null pointer dereferences, and uninitialized variables.

Use dynamic analysis tools

Dynamic analysis tools can help you to identify issues that may only occur during runtime. These are like memory leaks or race conditions.

Tools such as Valgrind or AddressSanitizer can be very helpful in finding these types of issues.

Use hardware-in-the-loop testing:

Hardware-in-the-loop (HIL) testing involves testing the embedded software on the actual hardware that it will be running on.

This can help you to catch issues that may only occur in the real-world environment.

Use code coverage tools:

Code coverage tools can help you to ensure that your tests cover all the important parts of your code.

These tools can provide you with metrics such as statement coverage, branch coverage, and path coverage.

Use boundary value analysis

Boundary value analysis involves testing the software at the limits of its input values.

It is useful for catching issues such as off-by-one errors or overflow conditions.

Use regression testing

Regression testing involves re-running tests that have already been passed. It ensures that changes to the software have not introduced new issues.

Regression testing can support your embedded software testing with C because it also leads to reliability

Document and track test results

It is important to document and track the results of your testing.

Documentation and tracking help in identifying trends and issues over time. It also ensures that the software meets its requirements.


Conclusion on Embedded Software Testing with C

Embedded software testing with C is a crucial step in ensuring reliable and safe embedded systems.

It follows complex and thorough processes while requiring the testers to have some experience with software and hardware.

Following the guidelines in this blog post can ensure that your embedded software meets its requirements and functions. It will help your product function properly in diverse environments, contributing to the reliability and safety of the final product.

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