Re: Waterfall vs. Spiral development and doc (was: RE: Why is working from a spec like walking on water?)

Subject: Re: Waterfall vs. Spiral development and doc (was: RE: Why is working from a spec like walking on water?)
From: "Anthony Markatos" <tonymar -at- hotmail -dot- com>
To: Janet_Swisher -at- trilogy -dot- com, techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
Date: Wed, 17 Nov 1999 11:58:38 PST

Tony Markatos responds to Janet Swisher (see below):

Janet, in the real world, for larger scale software projects; nobody, but nobody has been able to develop utilizing a very rigorous waterfall approach. When was the last time that you saw a complete set of data flow diagrams, entity relationship diagrams, and a data dictionary? These are the first outputs created in a waterfall effort. Without them, the whole appraoch falls apart.

Data flow diagrams and other tools of structured systems analysis are really just mechanisms utilized to enforce open and honest communication between software project particpants and end users. People can only withstand so much honesty; try to trap them into more, and the revolt big-time.

This is not to say that the "spiral" approach is the answer. If it was, there would be no debate. Nobody can develop software without at least a fair understanding of end user tasks and data relationships (this is what SSA techniques try to capture using a very formal process). The spiral approach just assumes that the designers have already obtained this understanding, basically, by either having done something simular in the past or by just "hanging around" and gaining an understanding of the end users tasks informally. Where this assumtion proves fatal is in larger scale projects that are not "knock-offs" from something simular.

To the degree that development is successful with the chosen methodology, so to will be the documentation folks.

Janet Swisher said:

...It seems to me that most of the discussion I've seen of documentation development assumes a waterfall model for both the product and the documentation. I would also be very interested in hearing others' comments on documentation in a spiral-model environment.

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