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Complexity Management by well defined interfaces

Vliet, M. van der (2003) Complexity Management by well defined interfaces. Master's Thesis / Essay, Computing Science.

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Our general objective was to manage or reduce the complexity of large software systems. The defmition and management of interfaces can play an important role in tackling the complexity problem. Therefore, interfaces should be well-defmed, i.e. they should have clear Interface Specflcations, be not dependent on (many) other interfaces, and be generic enough such that they don't need to be changed often. The Interface Spec Vication makes the interface comprehensible, and usable for external users without needing to know the internals of the entity that implements the interface. We have investigated what information should be given in so-called interface specifications, and how we can embed the description of these specifications in a natural way in the development process. We have studied two cases of interfaces at Philips Medical Systems (PMS), at the Magnetic Resonance (MR) department. We had interviews with the 'owners' of the interfaces concerned (who are responsible for the interfaces' quality) to learn about the context and contents of the interfaces. Then we had interviews with the external users of the interfaces to identify what information they needed to use the interfaces. Finally we had interviews with a group of designers and architects to identify how the management and specification of interfaces could be embedded in the development process. From the results of the cases, we created a new template for Philips MR [Appendix D], which indicates what issues need to be described for each interface and what issues can be described optionally. Important is that the interface specification describes all a user needs to know in order to use the interface. This not only concerns syntactic information, but also semantic information, error handling, usage restrictions and so on. Such a complete interface specification enables the deployment of the entity that implements the interface as a black box, i.e. only providing executables, the interface and specifications and other deliverables, and hiding the internals (implementation and internal documents) to the environment in which it is deployed. This way of working facilitates people who were not involved in the development process to use the functionality provided, which is in particular useful when development is done in a geographical multi-site development, because then other communication possibilities are limited. To ensure the interfaces and interface specifications are defined properly, the interface specification and interface management should be embedded in the organisation's development process, such that the developers know what to describe, when and where. Furthermore, to enable control of the dependencies and contents of the interfaces, these must be visible (in an overview) to the designers and architects. Then, it is important having the right decomposition of software functionalities; each composite having an interface that does not need to be changed often. Also, the interface should preferably be generic, and have configurability options (parameters) to make it more flexible for changes.

Item Type: Thesis (Master's Thesis / Essay)
Degree programme: Computing Science
Thesis type: Master's Thesis / Essay
Language: English
Date Deposited: 15 Feb 2018 07:29
Last Modified: 15 Feb 2018 07:29

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