Chapter3 - 3 Modularity From the goals of extendibility and...

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3 Modularity F rom the goals of extendibility and reusability, two of the principal quality factors introduced in chapter 1 , follows the need for flexible system architectures, made of autonomous software components. This is why chapter 1 also introduced the term modularity to cover the combination of these two quality factors. Modular programming was once taken to mean the construction of programs as assemblies of small pieces, usually subroutines. But such a technique cannot bring real extendibility and reusability benefits unless we have a better way of guaranteeing that the resulting pieces — the modules — are self-contained and organized in stable architectures. Any comprehensive definition of modularity must ensure these properties. A software construction method is modular, then, if it helps designers produce software systems made of autonomous elements connected by a coherent, simple structure. The purpose of this chapter is to refine this informal definition by exploring what precise properties such a method must possess to deserve the “modular” label. The focus will be on design methods, but the ideas also apply to earlier stages of system construction (analysis, specification) and must of course be maintained at the implementation and maintenance stages. As it turns out, a single definition of modularity would be insufficient; as with software quality, we must look at modularity from more than one viewpoint. This chapter introduces a set of complementary properties: five criteria , five rules and five principles of modularity which, taken collectively, cover the most important requirements on a modular design method. For the practicing software developer, the principles and the rules are just as important as the criteria. The difference is simply one of causality: the criteria are mutually independent — and it is indeed possible for a method to satisfy one of them while violating some of the others — whereas the rules follow from the criteria and the principles follow from the rules. You might expect this chapter to begin with a precise description of what a module looks like. This is not the case, and for a good reason: our goal for the exploration of modularity issues, in this chapter and the next two, is precisely to analyze the properties which a satisfactory module structure must satisfy; so the form of modules will be a conclusion of the discussion, not a premise. Until we reach that conclusion the word
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MODULARITY § 3.1 40 “module” will denote the basic unit of decomposition of our systems, whatever it actually is. If you are familiar with non-object-oriented methods you will probably think of the subroutines present in most programming and design languages, or perhaps of packages as present in Ada and (under a different name) in Modula. The discussion will lead in a later chapter to the O-O form of module — the class — which supersedes these ideas. If you have encountered classes and O-O techniques before, you should still read this chapter
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Chapter3 - 3 Modularity From the goals of extendibility and...

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