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Method for structuring, presenting, and capturing best practice information to support incremental design and communication

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000200991D
Publication Date: 2010-Nov-03
Document File: 3 page(s) / 79K

Publishing Venue

The IP.com Prior Art Database

Abstract

Humans have a limited capacity for comprehending and retaining information, but the design of modern software systems is extremely complex, requiring many different related problems to be considered. This invention solves the problems that (a) incomplete designs are created for complex systems because designers don't consider all problems in a given design space, and (b) no central, easily accessible source of key concepts is available. The core idea proposed here is to capture best practices and lists of resulting problems and possible solutions in structured electronic documents; to provide a computer program to allow best practices to be iteratively added to a design document to solve problems introduced by other best practices; and to create a web-based representation of such a design.

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Method for structuring, presenting, and capturing best practice information to support incremental design and communication

Overview

    Humans have a limited capacity for comprehending and retaining information, but the design of modern software systems is extremely complex, requiring many different related problems to be considered.

    Further, the communication of design concepts between business people, analysts, architects, designers, developers etc. is prone to misunderstanding because there is typically no central design artifact that describes key concepts in an easy to understand, accessible way.

The approach proposed here addresses the problems that:
(a) incomplete designs are created for complex systems because designers don't consider all problems in a given design space, and
(b) no central, easily accessible source of key concepts is available.

The core idea of the invention is:
to capture best practices and lists of resulting problems and possible solutions in structured electronic documents*.
to provide a computer program to allow best practices to be iteratively added to a design document to solve problems introduced by other best practices.
to create a web-based representation of such a design, containing selected best practices and the problem they solve, the problems they introduce, and references to other best practices selected to solve resulting problems.

*For those familiar with the concept, the term design pattern can be used as a synonym for best practice in this article.

Known Solutions and their Disadvantages

    While UML and Agile Methods are known solutions to problem (b) above, there are disadvantages which are described below.

    UML can help to solve the communication problem by allowing designers to create abstract conceptual models which act as a source of key concepts. However UML is best suited to the documentation of design structures rather than problem solving. It is also complex and difficult to learn.

    Agile methods may also be employed to improve communication of key concepts by encouraging regular contact between project team members. However the communication benefits of such methods are extremely difficult to realise for any project with more than a handful of contributors, and for any distributed project where regular, informal communication is implausible.

Some work exists in the area of software design generally:


US 5430873 - Software design support apparatus (Hiroaki Abe et al).

US 6289255 - Method for computer-aided design of a product or process (Sunil C. Shah et al )

    However this prior art focuses on levels of design in the first case, and on goals and cost metrics for the latter case. Neither patent describes the use of best practices or problem-solution relationships which are central to the approach presented here.

    This approach consists firstly of the capture of best practices in structured electronic documents, where each best practice document:
a) describes a problem that is solved by using...