Structured Design?

I know this looks ridiculously long, but it should only take a few minutes of your time.

I am working on a final paper in my structured design class. The paper requires me to compare the 'text-book' version of structured design with real-world software design. As part of this assignment, I am supposed to get some input from people "working in the field of software design." (Not including myself or classmates, which makes it difficult.)

If you have professional experience in the field of software design, will you please answer the following questions? (Since it is a 'structured' design class, it would be helpful if you have professional 'structured' experience -- C, Pascal, etc.) I can offer 50 points each for the first four (useful) responses, and an extra 50 points to the best response.

A) Your real name (optional, but preferred):

B) Your software design title:
      When and how long?

C) Did you have separate teams for analysis, design and programming?

D) How closely did each of these teams work with each other and with the end users?

E) Please rate the following terms based on 1) how familiar you are with the term, and 2) how important your understanding of the concept has been to your success in this field. Rate them from 1 to 5 with 1 meaning very familiar/very important, and 5 meaning not at all familiar/important. Please feel free to add any comments that you think might help me.

1) The 'Black-Box' approach to design
2) Structure Charts
3) Module Interfaces
4) Function Specifications
5) Coupling
6) Cohesion
7) Factoring
8) Decision Splitting
9) System Shape
10) Fan-In / Fan-Out
11) Data-Flow Diagrams
12) Data Dictionary
13) Structured English
14) Decision Trees and Decision Tables
15) Entity Relationship Diagrams

(Please rate your familiarity first, and importance second so it is standard and easier to read - i.e. the answer 1, 5 means you're very familiar with the term, but it's not very important.)

If you feel more comfortable replying by e-mail, send it to jason_lewis@mailcity.com. I will post a separate question to award your points.

Also -- I am posting this question in several areas for better exposure. So I'll use the date/time stamp to determine the first four responses. I hope that's fair. (To keep it fair to the people who are willing to spend a fair amount of time on this, please post a simple note before you spend the time on a response. I'll use the time stamp from your simple note. I would rather reward the people who are willing to go out of their way, but I do need a quick response, too.)  Thanks in advance!  --J
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jason_lewisAsked:
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scrapdogCommented:
The Pascal area doesn't get a lot of traffic.

If you really wanna get replies, post this in the Delphi topic area (super high traffic).
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BigRatCommented:
a) BigRat
b) 30 years
c) Yes
d) I've experienced everything, there is no ONE method.
e)
1) The 'Black-Box' approach to design
   Rate 1,5
2) Structure Charts
   Rate 1,5
3) Module Interfaces
   Rate 1,3
4) Function Specifications
   Rate 1,1
     - but only on certain types of products. I'm actually used VDM and dabbled with Z.
5) Coupling
   Rate 5,-
6) Cohesion
   Rate 5,-
7) Factoring
   Rate 5,-
8) Decision Splitting
   Rate 1,3
9) System Shape
   Rate 1,2
10) Fan-In / Fan-Out
    Rate 1,3
11) Data-Flow Diagrams
    Rate 1,2
12) Data Dictionary
    Rate 1,1
13) Structured English
    Rate 1,1
14) Decision Trees and Decision Tables
    Rate 1,3
15) Entity Relationship Diagrams
    Rate 1,2

There has been a tendency in the last ten years to "hack" it. This is primarily because the margins on computer products are so low. "We need the product yesterday with tomorrows functionality" The promise of the tool makers is also so strong on corporate decision makers that they believe there is really no problem in making complex software. I find that it actually isn't getting any easier.
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jason_lewisAuthor Commented:
I'm curious...You rated 'black-box' design and structure charts as 'not at all important'. Can you explain why you feel that way? Is it because object-oriented design is replacing it, or because you feel too much importance has been placed on them? This was a surprising answer. Especially from someone with so much experience. I would really appreciate anything you can add.  --J
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BigRatCommented:
black-box: OK for slpitting up a project into basic components, so long as they are easily identifiable. But poor for details - which count in the long run.

Structure charts. Never really liked them. I find that an O-O approach is much more revealing apropos structure.

It is very much a case of "horses for courses" - I used THAT method in THIS situation. For DB work ALWAYS DD and ER. For language type algorithms (compiler like work) ALWAYS formal methods (VDM). But whatever method I use I ALWYAS write a full description of the product, documentation regarding installation and support, and that mostly before I start coding. That makes me think about the side effects and how others are going to use it.

One final thing - literate coding. (Donald Knuth termed this I think). I write one or more lines of comment before a single line of code. The comment explains what and why we are doing something. You can throw away the code in my programs and just read the comments. Sometimes I mix in a "Rat's Difficult Question" just to keep the reader awake (see also the Lounge at this site).
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jason_lewisAuthor Commented:
Very helpful. Thanks!  --J
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scrapdogCommented:
>Sometimes I mix in a "Rat's Difficult
>Question" just to keep the reader
>awake (see also the Lounge at this
>site).

"Keep the reader awake" is an understatement!  Most people die of fright when they seen on of these!  (even I have once or twice!)
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scrapdogCommented:
>seen on
= see one

see what you did!  I can't even type straight now!
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