Making the structure of a model be the same as the structure of the engineering component modeled turns 2 problems into one. This speeds up co-operation in prototyping of both the software model and the component. Both rapid prototyping and rapid application design/development involve iterative fast development with prototypes communicated. Requirements emerge gradually as part of this process, so early stage design can begin, in co-operation with life-cycle management, marketing accounts etc. To get full benefit from this all staff who are part of this design process, manufacturing, management, and life-cycle management need to be able to access the models. The longer term aim is to enable direct modeling/prototyping of this by customers of the modeling tool e.g. engineers/end-user programmers. Such a system documents itself as the structure of the engineering product and software model are displayed/visualized.

Integration of information representation UML/DOORS is progress towards this. Also a user interface is required that makes it easier for engineers to model using such a combined UML/Doors solution

Despite object-oriented programming techniques being heavily influenced by the approach used by engineers for Bill of Materials/Product Data Structure modeling this link has become difficult. Much of object-oriented programming was developed before graphical user interfaces became practical and common. So objects/classes are often represented mainly by text with visualization/representation being added as an afterthought. This is not useful for engineers who are used to objects being physical things, or at least diagrams. A further problem has been an over-emphasis on encapsulation (hiding an objects’ details, while creating an interface for its use), and re-use. This can lead to errors due to re-use of objects that are not fully understood. So the classes/objects need to be visualized, even if the user does not intend to change their contents, so the user of objects has sufficient understanding of how to use them.

The above steps would improve the link and co-operation between engineers and modelers/models.

UML/Doors (http://www-01.ibm.com/software/awdtools/doors/productline/)


Peter Hale – I am a Researcher in the final year of my PhD. I specialise in devising ways of making it easier for users to create their …
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Business process modelling