Using Animation to Design, Document and Trace Object-Oriented Systems

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Shilling, John J.
Stasko, John T.
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Current diagramming techniques for the development and documentation of object-oriented designs largely emphasize capturing relationships among classes. Such techniques cannot capture full designs because the static nature of class relationships makes them inadequate for describing the dynamics of object collaboration. Other techniques attempt to diagram dynamic behavior but are limited by their media to producing essentially passive description of dynamic operations. What is still needed is a technique that models message ordering, changing visibility and temporal object lifetimes in a manner that is concise and immediate. We have developed an approach in which developers use animation to develop and capture object-oriented designs. This allows developers to design object-oriented scenarios in the way that they visualize them: by animating the actions of the objects in the scenario. The same animation then acts as the documentation for the design. Its playback makes immediately evident the temporal relationship of object messages, object creation, object destruction, and changing object visibility. Our technique is supported as part of a suite of object-oriented development tools we call GROOVE.
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