Ragnarok: An Architecture Based Software Development Environment

Book English OPEN
Christensen, Henrik Bærbak (1999)
  • Publisher: Department of Computer Science, University of Aarhus

The Ragnarok project is an experimental computer science project within the field of software development environments. Taking current problems in software engineering as starting point, a small set of hypotheses are proposed, outlining plausible solutions for problems concerning the management of the development process and its associated data, and outlining how these solutions can be supported directly in a development environment. These hypotheses are all deeply rooted in the viewpoint that the logical software architecture forms a natural and powerful framework for handling essential aspects of the development process. <br/><br/>The main contributions presented in the thesis have evolved from work with two of the hypotheses: These address the problems of management of evolution, and overview, comprehension and navigation respectively. <br/><br/>The first main contribution is the Architectural Software Configuration Management Model: A software configuration management model where the abstractions and hierarchy of the logical aspect of software architecture forms the basis for version control and configuration management. The second main contribution is the Geographic Space Architecture Visualisation Model: A visualisation model where entities in a software architecture are organised geographically in a two-dimensional plane, their visual appearance determined by processing a subset of the data in the entities, and interaction with the project's underlying data performed by direct manipulation of the landscape entities. <br/><br/>A major effort has been invested in the design, development and deployment of a prototype software development environment, Ragnarok, that implements the core of these models. The Ragnarok prototype has been used in three, small- to medium-sized, real development projects for nearly three years. <br/><br/>The main results from the three case studies are the following: The architectural software configuration management model is a natural and viable model for configuration management, at least for small- to medium-sized systems. The model's main assets are that it minimises the gap between the concepts used in the development domain and configuration domain; and its emphasis on bound configurations ensures traceability and reproducibility of configurations and architectural changes. The geographic space architecture visualisation model is a viable model for visualising the logical aspect of an architecture. The model's main assets are enhanced navigational abilities as the focus is shifted from name-based to location-based search which allows humans' fine spatial memory to be exploited; and strengthened overview as the architecture is visible and readily accessible in a compact form.<br/>
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