Software Design

According to the IEEE definition [IEEE610.12-90], design is both “the process of defining the architecture,
components, interfaces, and other characteristics of a system or component” and “the result of [that] process.”

The SWEBOK identifies six sub-areas;

  1. Software Design Fundamentals
  2. Key Issues in Software Design
  3. Software Structure and Architecture
  4. Software Design Quality Analysis and Evaluation
  5. Software Design Notations
  6. Software Design Strategies and Methods

I subscribe to the IEEE Software magazine. One of my must read articles is “on architecture” by Grady Booch. I have been reading his books and articles since my college days. In the November/December 2007 issue he compares building architecture with software architecture. And in one page, he clearly states where the two disciplines differ and converge. Of course, books have been written on these ideas, but I now have a simple list anytime someones needs to have a discussion.

I have read and heard a lot of people talk about “software design“. I’m sure you have seen many compare it to building a building, or liken it to a craft, or even describe it as an artistic endeavor. At the last conference I went to, Alan Shalloway of NetObjectives, compared current software development to the crafts of the middle ages, before the industrial revolution! Even Grady Booch in the previously mention article observes that “the software industry has a long way to go to achieve the building industry’s level of predictability, reliability, and quality. ”

There are many ideas out there on design, I have mentioned lean development, design patterns, agile, and there are more. As a CSDP holder, I think we must consider the pro and cons of the different approaches and use the most appropriate one for our current project. Like the old saying (no animal cruelty intended) “there’s more than one way to skin a cat”. We need to have a variety of approaches in our toolbox, and like any proper craftsperson, know which tool works best for the desired result.


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