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From "Randall J. Parr" <RP...@TemporalArts.COM>
Subject design docs and diagrams [was Re: [spinnaker] Announce]
Date Sun, 09 Jul 2000 16:43:49 GMT
Arved Sandstrom wrote:

> At 10:38 PM 7/8/00 -0700, James Duncan Davidson wrote:
> >on 7/8/00 3:31 PM, Arved Sandstrom at Arved_37@chebucto.ns.ca wrote:
> >
> >> On a very related issue, as "developers" we don't spend most of our time on
> >> code. When we communicate, we communicate with design documents. UML,
> >> IEEE-compliant design descriptions, yada yada.
> >
> >I don't see a lot of UML on Open Source projects. Typically we communicate
> >with code and mail. But that's a personal thing. I can hold a discussion in
> >UML as well as anything -- so what's your design for a NG parser? :)
>
> I don't personally see _any_ UML on open source projects. :-) I wouldn't
> mind seeing some judicious use of the most expressive diagrams, and I plan
> to start sneaking them into FOP, which has some fairly intricate stuff
> happening, and could benefit from them.
>
> This is a completely unrelated tack, but maybe that's something we want to
> encourage - communication of designs with formal modelling notation (not
> getting completely anal, mind you), rather than code. I suppose the main
> problem right now is access to the tools - Visio 2000, or Together/J, or
> Rational Rose, are not cheap. I'm keeping an eye on ArgoUML, though (which
> is under the auspices of the Tigris project), and recommend it to anyone who
> wishes to get a start with UML. There isn't support for everything yet, but
> that's coming.

I heartily agree that many (most) of the open source projects I've worked with
would benefit greatly from requirements and design documentation; most especially
some diagrams. I find that a dozen or so good diagrams often do a better job of
conveying the design and, perhaps more importantly, the design approach or
philosophy, than written documents. More times than I can count I have found
designers, programmers, and end-users are working off a handful of diagrams
they've ripped from the design book.

I also agree that part of the problem is free and/or affordable tools. I have and
use Visio, Rational Rose, Oracle Designer, and others. I too am looking hopefully
towards the next release of ArgoUML and Dia. I would really like to be free of
high-cost, proprietary, MS WINDOWS based tools.

I think there are other factors which do more to discourage the use of these
diagrams in open-source projects. After all, I use Rose, Visio, etc. to produce a
diagram in a standard graphic format (GIF, EPS, ...) which I then use in
documentation or communication.

1) Use of any graphic formats, inclusions, attachments, etc. is very actively
discouraged in most (if not all) of the forums wherein the requirements and design
discussion occur.

2) Few projects seem to give a fraction of the thought to
developing/coordinating/versioning/ documentation source (design or other) as they
to do code source.

It strikes me, documentation and communication of the agreed upon core design
should be one of the most important requirements of an open soure project.

3) Use of diagrams and the like seems to be discouraged even in the design/program
documentation which is produced.

I could blather on (this is a pet peeve of mine) but I won't.

R.Parr
Temporal Arts




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