Software development for enterprise systems
Software development for enterprise systems

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Software development for enterprise systems

1. Introducing the terminology

Constructing enterprise systems is a complex engineering endeavour. As with other types of engineering, e.g. the construction of aircraft or suspension bridges, a lot of effort has to be put into planning and modelling, so that the final product is what is required and is achieved on time and within budget.

Ben Kovitz (1999) makes a distinction between orderly and exploratory. Orderly engineering is characterised primarily by the application and slight variation of time-tested techniques, design patterns and solutions but this does not mean that existing design and solutions can be routinely applied to solve new problems. Combining existing designs is a highly skilled activity that will always require some degree of imagination and ingenuity. Exploratory engineering is characterised primarily by the unstructured exploration of new kinds of techniques and design.

This course focuses on orderly engineering for enterprise systems. In particular, you will learn about current development practices for this type of system and develop relevant skills to apply them to real-world problems.

First of all, you will learn about the software development process, and its role in mitigating development risks. We use the term ‘development process’ to refer to the set of activities, methods, practices and transformations used to develop a piece of software (and associated products such as project plans and design documents).

The course also introduces you to the object-oriented approach to software. In particular, it will help you understand the concept of an object and related object technology concepts, such as encapsulation and inheritance.

Building models is an important activity throughout software development whatever approach is taken; models represent different aspects of the system and are built from different points of view. You will learn about the Unified Modeling Language (UML), a (primarily) diagrammatic language, to express models in an object-oriented approach. This course only contains a brief introduction to UML.

An important part of modelling is the ability to produce precise descriptions. No matter how abstract or expressive your models are, it is important that they describe precisely some facts of interest. At times, the need for precision will require the use of a more precise language. The Object Constraint Language (OCL) is a textual modelling language that is part of the UML. We will introduce it as needed to support UML models.

Realistic software development cannot be achieved without some tool support. In this course you will learn about a category of software tools, Computer Assisted Software Engineering (CASE) tools, which may help software developers to construct, document and track the evolution of artefacts during the development process.

Software is now a major factor in any business. Delivering software that meets your customer's need is of paramount importance. However, changes in business occur frequently, so software has to adapt to these frequent changes in order to keep a business competitive. Software development does not always mean development from scratch. Timely delivery of new software may mean that existing software has to be reused. You will learn about reuse of expertise, design and even existing systems or parts of them within new developed software.

The goal of this course is to introduce core skills in object-oriented analysis and design. Mastering such skills will enable you to develop software that is fit for purpose reusable and amenable to change.

Naturally, the course does not address the whole range of activities and skills that are required for successful software development. Many more skills are involved in, say eliciting requirements or designing usable interfaces or databases. This course only provides one piece in a much larger picture.

While this course is of an introductory nature, it will also expose you to current thinking in software development. It assumes you have some understanding of software development, but not necessarily any prior knowledge of the object-oriented approach, its principles and techniques.

Section 2 of this course describes some well-known software development processes. Models are used to represent the essential features of a situation and Section 3 introduces you to the different types of models you will encounter on the course, and to the languages used to express these models, UML and OCL. Section 4 describes the main concepts of an object-oriented approach. Reuse is described in Section 5 and the course ends with an introduction to CASE tools in Section 6.

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