Experiences Using Semi-Formal Methods During Development of Distributed, Research-Oriented, System-Level Software
David St. John
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The Management System for Heterogeneous Networks (MSHN) is a large, distributed research software system project that began over 18 months ago. The primary goal of MSHN is to develop a framework within which next-generation resource management system (RMS) issues can be investigated. The initial MSHN design was developed using basic object-oriented design principles and the initial prototype was built with object-oriented technology. After building an initial proof-of-concept prototype, we looked to the standardized terms, symbols and diagrams of the Unified Modeling Language to explain the functionality of MSHN to new students and staff members of the development group, as well as interested colleagues outside of the group. As we learned more about the UML and applied it to MSHN in further detail, we found that this semi-formal method not only (I) helped us to communicate MSHN’s functionality to others, but also (ii) improved our design, helping us identify bloated packages and opportunities for object re-use, and (iii) enabled us to more easily settle some open questions that had previously been sources of contention among the members of the MSHN team. Additionally, we found the Unified Process to be quite useful as a framework for building research-level, distributed systems software.
NPS Report NumberNPS-CS-99-004
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