PC developers are being called on to develop ever more complex systems, and in response the established tools for program design are now available on PC. "Clouds" is the colloquial name for the object diagrams that are central to UML. This book is a complete walk-through of the transition from design to development for programmers. .
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While there are plenty of books on software-engineering case studies, most are big on theory and short on real-world detail. Despite its vague title, Jesse Liberty's Clouds to Code is anything but hazy. The author writes with real candor about his experiences with two large projects--one failed and one successful.
The book's most interesting description is of the demise of Ziff-Davis's Interchange, a never-released online subscription service. (It was a victim, the author says, of too much funding, too many players, too many meetings, and ultimately, the rise of the Web.) The author's proverbial two cents on management styles in software ("Keep teams small and let programmers program") is peppered with the clear vision of hindsight and experience and dispensed with a good deal of wisdom and humor.
The brunt of the book details how to design and implement an automated phone system (for calling thousands of users to disseminate weather warnings and other information) that was developed for a client company by the author's consulting firm. The author chronicles the entire project, from meetings about initial requirements, analysis, and design to implementation and deployment over a ten-month period. Instead of relying on fictitious projects, the guide provides excerpts from actual design documents at different points in the software engineering cycle, along with excellent commentary on key design decisions (such as what platform, what language, and what components to use). As it turns out, the automated phone system you have built uses Microsoft products throughout, such as NT, Internet Information Server (IIS), and SQL Server, as well as Visual C++ and Microsoft Foundation Class (MFC) for the coding. All of this provides an exceptional real-world picture of the software design process in action, along with compromises and imperfections in the final "initial" release. Any software manager could benefit from this often engaging and candid text.
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