Re: Task-based vs. System-Based Procedures

Subject: Re: Task-based vs. System-Based Procedures
From: Yvonne DeGraw <yvonne -at- silcom -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 07 Jan 2000 09:12:21 -0800

"Anthony Markatos" <tonymar -at- hotmail -dot- com> wrote
>Properly utilizing Structured Systems Analysis and Design (SSAD) - the most
>prevalent of the formal analysis/design techniques - requires that the
>developer "approach" the application the same way that the end-user does.

This is perhaps true in idealized cases for the subset of software design
that creates data processing applications for use only by endusers where
there is a defined workflow. However, there are other types of software
that don't follow such design models.

This is a totally different world than object-oriented design. There are
many types of software where the software developer needs to think from the
perspective of the data or the processing that needs to be done. We need to
translate that into user tasks. In object-oriented design, user tasks
definitely *do not* correspond one-to-one with object classes.

One clue is that Anthony usually mentions "systems analysts". Most
companies I work for don't have "systems analysts", and the users don't
have a defined workflow.

I commonly classify products for my own documentation planning as either
"open-ended" or "closed-set" as to the number of tasks. For closed-set
products (think of an accounting system), such SSAD can work fine. For
open-ended products (think of an API or development/debugging tool),
object-oriented design is the norm and the list of potential specific user
tasks may be unbounded or large.

Of course, this is an oversimplification as there are closed-set products
where the processing done is far more important to the system design than
the user tasks (think of router software).

Yvonne DeGraw, Technical Services o Technical Writing
yvonne -at- silcom -dot- com o Online Help o Web Documentation
Tel: 805/683-5784 o Database Publishing

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