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A review of methods for rapid prototyping of computer software

 

TWI Industrial Member Report Summary 510/1995

A A Willoughby

Background

There is an increasing requirement within the Structural Integrity Department at TWI to develop computer programs to perform tasks such as structural integrity assessment. Frequently the detailed requirements for the software are not clearly specified at the outset, and need to be arrived at after a period of evolution. The production of software prototypes can be very beneficial for the development of specifications and for identifying potential problems.

This report reviews several approaches to rapid software development, including the use of rule based languages, visual programming and objects. The object oriented approach is investigated in detail as it is becoming increasingly popular both for research and for mainstream software development. Three commercial object oriented languages, Smalltalk, CLOS and C++, are outlined.

Objectives

The objectives of this study were as follows:

  1. To review methods of software production which are suitable for rapid prototyping of complex algorithmical procedures
  2. To provide an introduction to some of these methods, particularly object oriented techniques.
  3. To illustrate how the object metaphor can be applied to the design of software for structural integrity assessment.

Note that the main concern of this study is the development of software for complex numerical procedures. User interface development is touched on, but is generally outside the scope.

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