Object-oriented (O-O) analysis and design is an approach that is intended to facilitate the development of systems that must change rapidly in response to dynamic business environments. Chapter “Object-Oriented Systems Analysis and Design Using UML” helps you understand what object-oriented systems analysis and design is, how it differs from the structured approach of the SDLC, and when it may be appropriate to use an object-oriented approach.
Object-oriented techniques are thought to work well in situations in which complicated information systems are undergoing continuous maintenance, adaptation, and redesign. Object-oriented approaches use the industry standard for modeling object-oriented systems, called the unified modeling language (UML), to break down a system into a use case model.
Object-oriented programming differs from traditional procedural programming by examining objects that are part of a system. Each object is a computer representation of some actual thing or event. Objects may be customers, items, orders, and so on. Objects are represented by and grouped into classes that are optimal for reuse and maintainability. A class defines the set of shared attributes and behaviors found in each object in the class.
The phases in UML are similar to those in the SDLC. Since those two methods share rigid and exacting modeling, they happen in a slower, more deliberate pace than the phases of agile modeling. The analyst goes through problem and identification phases, an analysis phase, and a design phase as shown in the figure below. Although much of the specifics are discussed in Chapters “Understanding and Modeling Organizational Systems” and “Object-Oriented Systems Analysis and Design Using UML“, the following steps give a brief description of the UML process.
- Define the use case model.
In this phase the analyst identifies the actors and the major events initiated by the actors. Often the analyst will start by drawing a diagram with stick figures representing the actors and arrows showing how the actors relate. This is called a use case diagram (Chapter “Understanding and Modeling Organizational Systems“) and it represents the standard flow of events in the system. Then an analyst typically writes up a use case scenario, which describes in words the steps that are normally performed.
- During the systems analysis phase, begin drawing UML diagrams.
In the second phase (Chapter “Understanding and Modeling Organizational Systems“), the analyst will draw Activity Diagrams, which illustrate all the major activities in the use case. In addition, the analyst will create one or more sequence diagrams for each use case, which show the sequence of activities and their timing. This is an opportunity to go back and review the use cases, rethink them, and modify them if necessary.
- Continuing in the analysis phase, develop class diagrams.
The nouns in the use cases are objects that can potentially be grouped into classes. For example, every automobile is an object that shares characteristics with other automobiles. Together they make up a class.
- Still in the analysis phase, draw statechart diagrams.
The class diagrams are used to draw statechart diagrams, which help in understanding complex processes that cannot be fully derived by the sequence diagrams. The statechart diagrams are extremely useful in modifying class diagrams, so the iterative process of UML modeling continues.
- Begin systems design by modifying the UML diagrams. Then complete the specifications.
Systems design means modifying the existing system and that implies modifying the diagrams drawn in the previous phase. These diagrams can be used to derive classes, their attributes, and methods (methods are simply operations). The analyst will need to write class specifications for each class including the attributes, methods, and their descriptions. They will also develop methods specifications that detail the input and output requirements for the method, along with a detailed description of the internal processing of the method.
- Develop and document the system.
UML is, of course, a modeling language. An analyst may create wonderful models, but if the system isn’t developed there is not much point in building models. Documentation is critical. The more complete the information you provide the development team through documentation and UML diagrams, the faster the development and the more solid the final production system.
The steps in the UML development process.
Object-oriented methodologies often focus on small, quick iterations of development, sometimes called the spiral model. Analysis is performed on a small part of the system, usually starting with a high-priority item or perhaps one that has the greatest risk. This is followed by design and implementation. The cycle is repeated with analysis of the next part, design, and some implementation, and it is repeated until the project is completed. Reworking diagrams and the components themselves is normal. UML is a powerful modeling tool that can greatly improve the quality of your systems analysis and design and the final product.
Choosing Which Systems Development Method to Use
The differences among the three approaches described earlier are not as big as they seem at the outset. In all three approaches, the analyst needs to understand the organization first (Chapter “Understanding and Modeling Organizational Systems“). Then the analyst or project team needs to budget their time and resources and develop a project proposal (Chapter “Project Management“). Next they need to interview organizational members and gather detailed data by using questionnaires (Chapter “Information Gathering: Interactive Methods“) and sample data from existing reports and observe how business is currently transacted (Chapter “Information Gathering: Unobtrusive Methods“). The three approaches have all of these activities in common.
Even the methods themselves have similarities. The SDLC and object-oriented approaches both require extensive planning and diagramming. The agile approach and the object-oriented approach both allow subsystems to be built one at a time until the entire system is complete. The agile and SDLC approaches are both concerned about the way data logically moves through the system.
So given a choice to develop a system using an SDLC approach, an agile approach, or an object-oriented approach, which would you choose? Table below provides a set of guidelines to help you choose which method to use when developing your next system.
|The Systems Development Life Cycle (SDLC) Approach|
- Types of Systems
- Integrating Technologies for Systems
- Need for Systems Analysis and Design
- Roles of the Systems Analyst
- The Systems Development Life Cycle
- Using Computer-Aided Software Engineering (CASE) Tools
- The Agile Approach
- Object-Oriented Systems Analysis and Design & Choosing Which Systems Development Method to Use