Saturday, 23 February 2013


This weeks missive relates to software design processes - again!

The question that has been put forward is what is an appropriate level of use of CASE tools. These are packages that help you design and build software. To illustrate the 'issue' here is the list of CASE tools from Wikipedia - and there are probably even more than this knocking around in some small corner of the office!

Ref: Wikipedia - "Types of tools are:
  • Business process engineering tools
  • Process modeling and management tools
  • Project planning tools
  • Risk analysis tools
  • Project management tools
  • Requirement tracing tools
  • Metrics management tools
  • Documentation tools
  • System software tools
  • Quality assurance tools
  • Database management tools
  • Software configuration management tools
  • Analysis and design tools
  • PRO/SIM tools
  • Interface design and development tools
  • Prototyping tools
  • Programming tools
  • Web development tools
  • Integration and testing tools
  • Static analysis tools
  • Dynamic analysis tools
  • Test management tools
  • Client/Server testing tools
  • Re-engineering tools"

If all you are doing is building some simple application, e.g. web site, some remote interface control, analysis of some business data, what do you do? You could easily spend all your time evaluating which tool to use rather than getting on with the job!

Well Occ-Bam this week has shown me how you can use a simple tool like PowerPoint to help capture requirements, prototype the design and develop the used guide for a simple app. Its so simple even I could do it without having to fork out thousands of pounds on one or more of the above packages - and I mean thousands and thousands in some cases (sorry couldn't resist).

All you do is;

  1. storyboard the key user requirements on separate PP slides
  2. build sample user input and output slides for step 1 slides
  3. construct sample user interface slides based on step 2   
  4. document in the notes on each slide the functionality that sits behind that particular slide
  5. document in the notes on each slide what the user needs to do interact 
  6. iterate steps 2 to 5 until happy!
et voila - you have created, a requirements repository, a functional model of the code, a set of use cases, defined the user interface, prototyped the design and created a user guide all in one go.

What a brilliant use of PowerPoint I say, simples ;)

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