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SIDL - A Software Installation Description Language

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000128301D
Original Publication Date: 1979-Dec-31
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Sep-15
Document File: 16 page(s) / 48K

Publishing Venue

Software Patent Institute

Related People

Ralph E. Griswold: AUTHOR [+3]

Abstract

In the design of portable software, most of,the emphasis is placed on the technique by which the transportation is accomplished: bootstrapping, intermediate languages, translations, and so on [1). Successful portable software must also give careful attention to machine dependencies and idiosyncracies and the avoidance of a number of common pitfalls [2]. Even the technique of distribution can mean the difference between success and failure [3]. The organization of the software and the means by which it is installed on a variety of computers is frequently neglected, however.

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THIS DOCUMENT IS AN APPROXIMATE REPRESENTATION OF THE ORIGINAL.

SIDL - A Software Installation Description Language*

Ralph E. Griswold

TR 79-16

October 18, 1979~

Department of Computer Science The University of Arizona

*This work was . supported by the National Science Foundation under NSF Grant MCS78- 02545.

>

1. Introduction

In the design of portable software, most of,the emphasis is placed on the technique by which the transportation is accomplished: bootstrapping, intermediate languages, translations, and so on [1). Successful portable software must also give careful attention to machine dependencies and idiosyncracies and the avoidance of a number of common pitfalls [2]. Even the technique of distribution can mean the difference between success and failure [3]. The organization of the software and the means by which it is installed on a variety of computers is frequently neglected, however.

The design of transportable implementations of large software systems usually emphasizes simplicity of organization. An example is the SIL implementation of SNOBOL4 [4], which consists of a large main program instead of the more natural organization as a number of separate modules corresponding to the procedural organization of the system. The main reason for the choice of a single main program was the concern that a more complex structure would. prove difficult to handle by transporters using diverse operating. systems. Thus the virtues of modularity were abandoned for a pragmatic concern. This approach proved successful for transporting, but at considerable cost in development and maintenance..

As operating systems have developed in sophistication, their capacity to handle complex software organizations has grown.to the point that the advantages of modularity, especially in the file structure, should no longer be an impediment to software transportability. Nevertheless, file systems, command languages, and the modus operandi of software installation still vary widely from system to system.

The designer of,portable software systems is therefore faced with the problem of providing an underlying, software organization that can be adapted to a variety of environments. Documentation bridges the gap. Such. documentation usually consists of informal prose that purports to describe all the salient aspects of the software.and the steps needed to install it in a given environment. Inevitably this prose contains a strong 'ethnic'flavor of the designer's system culture. The installer of the portable software must, therefore, interpret language and concepts that are often alien to his own system culture. Furthermore the prose is usually incomplete. This incompleteness may occur from oversight, since such documentation typically is neither derived

University of Arizona Page 1 Dec 31, 1979

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SIDL - A Software Installation Description Language

from any rigorous procedure nor is it subject to any experimental verification. The incompleteness...