Re: depicting inter-dependent entities1

Subject: Re: depicting inter-dependent entities1
From: "John J. McDermott, CPLP" <jjm -at- jkintl -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Thu, 26 May 2011 10:08:32 -0600

There are some ways software engineers do this. Three common ways are state diagrams, UML state diagrams and Petri nets. These diagrams may be too complex for your users/readers, however.
Here is a link to a state diagram:
Note the labels showing when transitions occur. The labels can be even more specific "Server Printing AND Moon is Full" or whatever. You may not want to do exactly this, but it might help find a solution.
Here is a link about UML state diagrams Note that the conditions can also be complex. Your software may include this already (I seem to recall Visio does).

Note that your system will likely have multiple small diagrams. Merging them into one can be difficult :)


On 5/25/2011 11:55 PM, techwr-l-request -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com wrote:

What's the best way to depict the interactions among six or eight different things?

For example, say I have some devices that connect to each other (some locally, and some over the internet), and some-or-all might be involved in a given customer scenario, and there are several timeout values involved. I can spew out a whole bunch of words to the effect that this timeout (defaulting to this duration) must be longer than that one, but the combination of the two must be shorter than this other one, which you would lengthen in this situation, but shorten in that situation, and meanwhile there's this other timeout that comes into play in these specific situations and supersedes the first one... except for... aaargh!

John J. McDermott, CPLP
Learning and Performance Consultant
jjm at
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