An operational approach to object-oriented software development
The traditional waterfall software life cycle model has several weaknesses. One problem is that a working version of a system is unavailable until a late stage in the development; any omissions and mistakes in the specification undetected until that stage can be costly to maintain. The operational approach which emphasises the construction of executable specifications can help to remedy this problem. An operational specification may be exercised to generate the behaviours of the specified system, thereby serving as a prototype to facilitate early validation of the system's functional requirements. Recent ideas have centred on using an existing operational method such as JSD in the specification phase of object-oriented development. An explicit transformation phase following specification is necessary in this approach because differences in abstractions between the two domains need to be bridged. This research explores an alternative approach of developing an operational specification method specifically for object-oriented development. By incorporating object-oriented concepts in operational specifications, the specifications have the advantage of directly facilitating implementation in an object-oriented language without requiring further significant transformations. In addition, object-oriented concepts can help the developer manage the complexity of the problem domain specification, whilst providing the user with a specification that closely reflects the real world and so the specification and its execution can be readily understood and validated. A graphical notation has been developed for the specification method which can capture the dynamic properties of an object-oriented system. A tool has also been implemented comprising an editor to facilitate the input of specifications, and an interpreter which can execute the specifications and graphically animate the behaviours of the specified systems.