UML Diagrams As A Tool For A Software Development Team

As we progress into the 21st century, our reliance on computer and information systems to facilitate business is greater than ever before. The global market is much too convoluted and relentless to be run on manpower and note-taking alone; software systems are crucial to a company when handling large amounts of data processing, customer transactions, or client databases. As such, their development and maintenance has become a key component in successful company operations.

To structure, plan, and control the development of these systems, a software development life cycle (SDLC) is developed and adhered to. Different methodologies have evolved to be applied for different purposes, based on technical, organizational, project and team needs, but generally all will use some combination of the following stages:

• Problem analyzing
• Market research
• Requirements analysis
• Design
• Implementation (coding)
• Testing
• Deployment
• Maintenance and bug fixing

How strictly this order is followed, and what level of planning and documentation is reached, will depend on the requirements of the business and capabilities of the software. A ‘waterfall’ approach to the SDLC would see each of these stages carried out in linear order, with detailed planning and risk assessment before coding is even begun. The ‘agile’ approach involves a lot less planning and documentation, and focuses more on coding and continuous re-testing, ideal for a smaller system, or one where new components are being added as an ongoing process.

Modeling software development using UML diagrams

While going through each stage of the SLDC, it can be useful, and necessary, to produce a visual model of that process. A diagram of this kind presents a graphical view of a software system’s structure, components and relationships, which allows the designer to organize and predict certain outcomes, as well as share system information with collaborators and clients.

The accepted standard used when modeling a system is known as Unified Modeling Language (UML), a generic set of notations that are used when creating UML diagrams. These notations can visually represent requirements, subsystems, logical and physical elements, and structural and behavioral patterns, that are especially relevant to systems built using an object-oriented style.

Using UML during the modeling process has a number of benefits – for one, the entire development team can share information and collaborate using common language, diagrams and software, something that’s not possible when using a more task-specific programming language. It allows team members to create system ‘blueprints’, creating diagrams that show system as a unified whole, but also allowing the option to break that system down into component parts or processes.

Currently on version 2.5, UML supports 14 different diagram techniques that are seen as industry standard. These diagrams are broadly divided into two categories; first are static structure diagrams, that describe the physical structure of a system. Then there are behavior diagrams, that depict behaviors and interactions of various system components. Here is a brief description what each diagram is and how it can be applied:

Static structure diagrams

Class diagrams – divides objects into ‘classes’, i.e. parts that share common attributes. Class defines the methods and variables of that object, and diagrams depict relationships and source code dependencies between them.

Component diagrams – displays system components (physical or logical), interfaces and ports, and the connections between them. Allows analysts to replace and system check individual parts rather than designing the process from scratch.

Composite structure diagrams – shows the internal structure of a specific class, the role each element plays in collaboration with others, and how this affects how the class interacts with outside elements.

Deployment diagrams – models the physical deployment of artefacts (software systems) on nodes (normally hardware, e.g. laptop, mobile phone). Execution environment nodes are a ‘node within a node’, a software computing resource that displays hardware characteristics.

Object diagrams – represent a system overview. Similar to a class diagram, the take a snap-show of a system structure at a particular moment in time.

Package diagrams – packages are formed when UML elements are grouped together – classes, objects, use cases, components or nodes. A package diagram shows this grouping, and dependencies between packages that make up a system. An example of use would be when modeling complex source code; packages are used to represent the different layers of code.

Profile diagrams – operates at the metamodel level to show stereotypes as classes, and profiles as packages. Allows the developer to create custom packages.

Behavior diagrams

Activity diagrams – can be said to resemble a flowchart, showing steps in a software process as a workflow. Binary choices from each step, yes/no, true/false, make this a useful medium to describe software and coding logic.

State machine diagrams – describes the current state of a machine, which values are acting upon it. It shows what actions the nodes of a software system take, dependent on explicit events.

Use case diagrams – shows an actual example of system usage. Helps define requirements for a software system, and can describes any possible form of interactions between users and that system.

Interaction diagrams

Communication diagrams – displays the interaction between objects in terms of a set of sequenced messages. It’s used to create a birds-eye view of the collaboration between several objects, for a common purpose within the system.

Interaction overview diagrams – like an activity diagram in that it shows a workflow through a system, but simplifies complex patterns by making each step a nest of interactions within the larger overview of an activity.

Sequence diagram – useful to describe object interactions in a specific time sequence. Can consist of parallel ‘life lines’ that depict an objects state at any given moment, and the sequence of time ordered events that affect that state. From a software perspective, developers use this diagram can show simple run-time scenarios.

Timing diagram – depicts the behaviors of a given set of objects through a certain period of time.

Top Five Software Developments

A company’s website is the main point of contact with its customers and so needs to act as a source of information, a social gathering point, a shop and publicity machine all in one. Most companies have a host of software programs running behind the scenes making everything appear to run smoothly and seamlessly from accounts to document storage. Computers have revolutionized business for companies and the software development companies that produce systems to keep work on track are central to this process.

1. Accounts Software
Accounts always used to be the bane of a small company’s life, making sure the pounds and pennies all added up and that bills, invoices and company accounts were kept on top of, is for most people a complete nightmare. The use of such systems as QuickBooks has made the basic management of company accounts so much easier to control.

2. Blogging
Blogging allows business to keep in touch with their fans, customers and clients, tell them about new developments, product lines and industry activities that are of interest. The easiest way to start blogging for those who don’t already talk to their customers is by using WordPress. This free, simple system will have you writing about your business within minutes and keeping the world in touch with your progress.

3. Virtual Conference
With home working, mobile offices and multiple sites it can be difficult at times for everyone to get together for meetings or training sessions. Here software developers have come to the rescue with virtual offices, online classrooms and remote conferencing. There are a number of products on the market that allow you to talk directly to staff, colleagues or students, perform demonstrations via a ViOP, illustrate lectures with a simple whiteboard and all join up in one big virtual room.

4. Document Sharing
It is common for companies to use standard documents and templates for business and it is important that all staff have the ability to access information at any one time. Software developers at Google have come up with a useful documents tool that allows personnel to work from the same documents and access group information simultaneously.

5. Sales Co-ordination
CRM, Customer Relationship Management tools are an essential software solution even for one-man band organizations. Everyone benefits from keeping tabs on their client base, sales and salesforce activities. There are a few software developers who have created excellent systems for monitoring and controlling sales without it seeming such a hit and miss affair.

If you require a specific form of business management system, many software developers are able to create programs specific to your organization. There are also plenty of bespoke developers that use cloud based systems that mean you do not need lots of room and additional staff to maintain them.

Crucial Stages of Application Software Development

Any software is created by several methodologies and programming codes put together. Application software gives life to the machines. But while making use of electrical equipment, we never think much about its internal working process. The software available these days are of two major types.

1. System software: The system software has been designed in a way in which it offers a common interface between the person who is using it and the hardware of the system.

2. Application Software: The application software is programmed in such a way that it is capable enough to assist the person in multi tasking. It assists in bringing solution to different problems, helps to customize ‘n’ number of graphics, texts as well as numbers.

Various types of application software are available in the market including entertainment software, infrastructure software, content management software and many more. There are specifically defined stages for the development of application software. The process of it is mentioned below.

  • Defining the requirement: During this stage, the authorities of the company define the requirements of the client and plan out the design so that the product can be made accordingly. During this stage the budget and the deadlines of the project are also decided.
  • Designing: The designing part is the heart and soul of any software. This is because the smooth working of the software depends on the quality of the design. The software is usually created and developed by the software developers based on the plan which is accepted by the client as well as the organization. There are times when the company hired for the software development fails to integrate the features that have been asked for. In these cases they have to invest in debugging.
  • Testing the software: Testing is important to ensure that the system works smoothly and the programs developed are capable and efficient of working in any situation. During the testing process, the testers manipulate the programs to check if there are any loopholes.
  • Putting the software into practice: When the application software development is done and it is void of any flaws, it is put into practice by the client. Even during this stage, if there are any errors in the system, they can be checked and corrected.
  • Servicing: The firm providing application and software development should also be ready to provide regular servicing and maintenance to the clients whenever necessary. Customer support should also be provided by the hired firm so that the client queries and doubts can be cleared.