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Software Design: Embedded Systems - 6 - Embedded Systems (Web) - Computer Science Engineering (CSE)

Collaboration Diagrams 

A collaboration diagram shows both structural and behavioural aspects explicitly. This is unlike a sequence diagram which shows only the behavioural aspects. The structural aspect of a collaboration diagram consists of objects and the links existing between them. In this diagram, an object is also called a collaborator. The behavioural aspect is described by the set of messages exchanged among the different collaborators. The link between objects is shown as a solid line and can be used to send messages between two objects. The message is shown as a labeled arrow placed near the link. Messages are prefixed with sequence numbers because they are the only way to describe the relative sequencing of the messages in this diagram. The collaboration diagram for the example of fig. 37.18 is shown in fig. 37.19. The use of the collaboration diagrams in our development process would be to help us to determine which classes are associated with which other classes. 

Software Design: Embedded Systems - 6 | Embedded Systems (Web) - Computer Science Engineering (CSE)

Fig. 37.19 Collaboration diagram for the renew book use case 

Activity Diagrams  

The activity diagram is possibly one modelling element which was not present in any of the predecessors of UML. No such diagrams were present either in the works of Booch, Jacobson, or Rumbaugh. It is possibly based on the event diagram of Odell [1992] though the notation is very different from that used by Odell. The activity diagram focuses on representing activities or chunks of processing which may or may not correspond to the methods of classes. An activity is a state with an internal action and one or more outgoing transitions which automatically follow the termination of the internal activity. If an activity has more than one outgoing transition, then these must be identified through conditions. An interesting feature of the activity diagrams is the swim lanes. Swim lanes enable you to group activities based on who is performing them, e.g. academic department vs. hostel office. Thus swim lanes subdivide activities based on the responsibilities of some components. The activities in a swim lane can be assigned to some model elements, e.g. classes or some component, etc.

Activity diagrams are normally employed in business process modelling. This is carried out during the initial stages of requirements analysis and specification. Activity diagrams can be very useful to understand complex processing activities involving many components. Later these diagrams can be used to develop interaction diagrams which help to allocate activities (responsibilities) to classes. 

Software Design: Embedded Systems - 6 | Embedded Systems (Web) - Computer Science Engineering (CSE)

Fig. 37.20 Activity diagram for student admission procedure at IIT   

The student admission process in IIT is shown as an activity diagram in fig. 37.20. This shows the part played by different components of the Institute in the admission procedure. After the fees are received at the account section, parallel activities start at the hostel office, hospital, and the Department. After all these activities are completed (this synchronization is represented as a horizontal line), the identity card can be issued to a student by the Academic section. 

State Chart Diagrams 

A state chart diagram is normally used to model how the state of an object changes in its lifetime. State chat diagrams are good at describing how the behaviour of an object changes across several use case executions. However, if we are interested in modelling some behaviour that involves several objects collaborating with each other, state chart diagram is not appropriate. State chart diagrams are based on the finite state machine (FSM) formalism. An FSM consists of a finite number of states corresponding to those of the object being modelled. The object undergoes state changes when specific events occur. The FSM formalism existed long before the object-oriented technology and has been used for a wide variety of applications. Apart from modelling, it has even been used in theoretical computer science as a generator for regular languages.

A major disadvantage of the FSM formalism is the state explosion problem. The number of states becomes too many and the model too complex when used to model practical systems. This problem is overcome in UML by using state charts. The state chart formalism was proposed by David Harel [1990]. A state chart is a hierarchical model of a system and introduces the concept of a composite state (also called nested state). 

Actions are associated with transitions and are considered to be processes that occur quickly and are not interruptible. Activities are associated with states and can take a longer time. An activity can be interrupted by an event.

Software Design: Embedded Systems - 6 | Embedded Systems (Web) - Computer Science Engineering (CSE)

Fig. 37.21 State chart diagram for an order object  

The basic elements of the state chart diagram are as follows: 

  • Initial state. This is represented as a filled circle.
  • Final state. This is represented by a filled circle inside a larger circle. 
  • State. These are represented by rectangles with rounded corners.
  • Transition. A transition is shown as an arrow between two states. Normally, the name of the event which causes the transition is placed along side the arrow. A guard to the transition can also be assigned. A guard is a Boolean logic condition. The transition can take place only if the grade evaluates to true. The syntax for the label of the transition is shown in 3 parts: event[guard]/action. 

An example state chart for the order object of the Trade House Automation software is shown in fig. 37.21. 

Object-Oriented Software Development  

The object-modelling concepts introduced in the earlier sections can be put together to develop an object-oriented analysis and design methodology. Object-oriented design (OOD) advocates a radically different design approach compared to the traditional function-oriented design approach. OOD paradigm suggests that the natural objects (i.e. the entities) occurring in a problem should be identified first and then implemented. Object-oriented design techniques not only identify objects, but also identify the internal details of these identified objects. Also, the relationships existing among different objects are identified and represented in such a way that the objects can be easily implemented using a programming language. 

The term object-oriented analysis (OOA) refers to a method of developing an initial model of the software from the requirements specification. The analysis model is refined into a design model. The design model can be implemented using a programming language. The term objectoriented programming refers to the implementation of programs using object-oriented concepts. 

Design Patterns 

Design patterns are reusable solutions to problems that recur in many applications. A pattern serves as a guide for creating a “good” design. Patterns are based on sound common sense and the application of fundamental design principles. These are created by people who spot repeating themes across designs. The pattern solutions are typically described in terms of class and interaction diagrams. Examples of design patterns are expert pattern, creator pattern, controller pattern, etc. 

In addition to providing the model of a good solution, design patterns include a clear specification of the problem, and also explain the circumstances in which the solution would and would not work. Thus, a design pattern has four important parts: 

  • The problem
  • The context in which the problem occurs
  • The solution
  • The context within which the solution works 

Design Pattern Solutions  

The design pattern solutions are typically described in terms of class and interaction diagrams. 

Expert Pattern 

Problem: Which class should be responsible for doing certain things? 

Solution: Assign responsibility to the information expert – the class that has the information necessary to fulfill the required responsibility. The expert pattern expresses the common intuition that objects do things related to the information they have. The class diagram and collaboration diagrams for this solution to the problem of which class should compute the total sales is shown in the fig. 37.1.1.

Software Design: Embedded Systems - 6 | Embedded Systems (Web) - Computer Science Engineering (CSE)

Fig. 37.22 Expert pattern: (a) Class diagram (b) Collaboration diagram  

Creator Pattern 

Problem: Which class should be responsible for creating a new instance of some class? Solution: Assign a class C1 the responsibility to create an instance of class C2, if one or more of the following are true: 

  • C1 is an aggregation of objects of type C2
  • C1 contains objects of type C2
  • C1 closely uses objects of type C2
  • C1 has the data that would be required to initialize the objects of type C2, when they are created 

Controller Pattern  

Problem: Who should be responsible for handling the actor requests? Solution: For every use case, there should be a separate controller object which would be responsible for handling requests from the actor. Also, the same controller should be used for all the actor requests pertaining to one use case so that it becomes possible to maintain the necessary information about the state of the use case. The state information maintained by a controller can be used to identify the out-of-sequence actor requests, e.g. whether voucher request is received before arrange payment request. 

Model View Separation Pattern 

Problem: How should the non-GUI classes communicate with the GUI classes? Context in which the problem occurs: This is a very commonly occurring pattern which is found  in almost every problem. Here, model is a synonym for the domain layer objects, view is a synonym for the presentation layer objects such as the GUI objects. 

Solution: The model view separation pattern states that model objects should not have direct knowledge (or be directly coupled) of the view objects. This means that there should not be any direct calls from other objects to the GUI objects. This results in a good solution, because the GUI classes are related to a particular application whereas the other classes may be reused. 

There are actually two solutions to this problem which work in different circumstances. These are as follows: Solution 1: Polling or Pull from above It is the responsibility of a GUI object to ask for the relevant information from the other objects, i.e. the GUI objects pull the necessary information from the other objects whenever required. This model is frequently used. However, it is inefficient for certain applications. For example, simulation applications which require visualization, the GUI objects would not know when the necessary information becomes available. Other examples are, monitoring applications such as network monitoring, stock market quotes, and so on.

In these situations, a “push-from-below” model of display update is required. Since “push-from-below” is not an acceptable solution, an indirect mode of communication from the other objects to the GUI objects is required. Solution 2: Publish- subscribe pattern An event notification system is implemented through which the publisher can indirectly notify the subscribers as soon as the necessary information becomes available. An event manager class can be defined as one which keeps track of the subscribers and the types of events they are interested in. An event is published by the publisher by sending a message to the event manager object. The event manager notifies all registered subscribers usually via a parameterized message (called a callback). Some languages specifically support event manager classes. For example, Java provides the EventListener interface for such purposes. 

Domain Modelling 

Domain modelling is known as conceptual modelling. A domain model is a representation of the concepts or objects appearing in the problem domain. It also captures the obvious relationships among these objects. Examples of such conceptual objects are the Book, BookRegister, MemeberRegister, LibraryMember, etc. The recommended strategy is to quickly create a rough conceptual model where the emphasis is in finding the obvious concepts expressed in the requirements while deferring a detailed investigation. Later during the development process, the conceptual model is incrementally refined and extended. The objects identified during domain analysis can be classified into three types: 

  • Boundary objects
  • Controller objects
  • Entity objects 

The boundary and controller objects can be systematically identified from the use case diagram whereas identification of entity objects requires practice. So, the crux of the domain modeling activity is to identify the entity models. 

Boundary objects

The boundary objects are those with which the actors interact. These include screens, menus, forms, dialogs, etc. The boundary objects are mainly responsible for user interaction. Therefore, they normally do not include any processing logic. However, they may be responsible for validating inputs, formatting, outputs, etc. The boundary objects were earlier being called the interface objects. However, the term interface class is being used for Java, COM/DCOM, and UML with different meaning. A recommendation for the initial identification of the boundary classes is to define one boundary class per actor/use case pair. 

Entity objects 

These normally hold information such as data tables and files that need to outlive use case execution, e.g. Book, BookRegister, LibraryMember, etc. Many of the entity objects are “dumb servers”. They are normally responsible for storing data, fetching data, and doing some fundamental kinds of operation that do not change often. 

Controller objects 

The controller objects coordinate the activities of a set of entity objects and interface with the boundary objects to provide the overall behavior of the system. The responsibilities assigned to a controller object are closely related to the realization of a specific use case. The controller objects effectively decouple the boundary and entity objects from one another making the system tolerant to changes of the user interface and processing logic. The controller objects embody most of the logic involved with the use case realization (this logic may change from time to time). A typical interaction of a controller object with boundary and entity objects is shown in fig. 37.22. Normally, each use case is realized using one controller object. However, some use cases can be realized without using any controller object, i.e. through boundary and entity objects only. This is often true for use cases that achieve only some simple manipulation of the stored information. 


Let’s consider the “query book availability” use case of the Library Information System (LIS). Realization of the use case involves only matching the given book name against the books available in the catalog. More complex use cases may require more than one controller object to realize the use case. A complex use case can have several controller objects such as transaction manager, resource coordinator, and error handler. There is another situation where a use case can have more than one controller object. Sometimes the use cases require the controller object to transit through a number of states. In such cases, one controller object might have to be created for each execution of the use case. 

Software Design: Embedded Systems - 6 | Embedded Systems (Web) - Computer Science Engineering (CSE)

Fig. 37.23 A typical realization of a use case through the collaboration of boundary, controller, and entity objects

Identification of Entity Objects 

One of the most important steps in any object-oriented design methodology is the identification of objects. In fact, the quality of the final design depends to a great extent on the appropriateness of the objects identified. However, to date no formal methodology exists for identification of objects. Several semi-formal and informal approaches have been proposed for object identification. These can be classified into the following broad classes: 

  • Grammatical analysis of the problem description
  • Derivation from data flow
  • Derivation from the entity relationship (E-R) diagram 

A widely accepted object identification approach is the grammatical analysis approach. Grady Booch originated the grammatical analysis approach [1991]. In Booch’s approach, the nouns occurring in the extended problem description statement (processing narrative) are mapped to objects and the verbs are mapped to methods.  

Booch’s Object Identification Method  

Booch’s object identification approach requires a processing narrative of the given problem to be first developed. The processing narrative describes the problem and discusses how it can be solved. The objects are identified by noting down the nouns in the processing narrative. Synonym of a noun must be eliminated. If an object is required to implement a solution, then it is said to be part of the solution space. Otherwise, if an object is necessary only to describe the problem, then it is said to be a part of the problem space. However, several of the nouns may not be objects. An imperative procedure name, i.e., noun form of a verb actually represents an action and should not be considered as an object. A potential object found after lexical analysis is usually considered legitimate, only if it satisfies the following criteria: 

Retained information: Some information about the object should be remembered for the system to function. If an object does not contain any private data, it can not be expected to play any important role in the system. 

Multiple attributes: Usually objects have multiple attributes and support multiple methods. It is very rare to find useful objects which store only a single data element or support only a single method, because an object having only a single data element or method is usually implemented as a part of another object. 

Common operations: A set of operations can be defined for potential objects. If these operations apply to all occurrences of the object, then a class can be defined. An attribute or operation defined for a class must apply to each instance of the class. If some of the attributes or operations apply only to some specific instances of the class, then one or more subclasses can be needed for these special objects.

Normally, the actors themselves and the interactions among themselves should be excluded from the entity identification exercise. However, some times there is a need to maintain information about an actor within the system. This is not the same as modeling the actor. These classes are sometimes called surrogates. For example, in the Library Information System (LIS) we would need to store information about each library member. This is independent of the fact that the library member also plays the role of an actor of the system. Although the grammatical approach is simple and intuitively appealing, yet through a naive use of the approach, it is very difficult to achieve high quality results. In particular, it is very difficult to come up with useful abstractions simply by doing grammatical analysis of the problem description. Useful abstractions usually result from clever factoring of the problem description into independent and intuitively correct elements. 

An Example: Tic-Tac-Toe 

Tic-tac-toe is a computer game in which a human player and the computer make alternative moves on a 3 x 3 square. A move consists of marking a previously unmarked square. A player who first places three consecutive marks along a straight line (i.e., along a row, column, or diagonal) on the square, wins the game. As soon as either the human player or the computer wins, a message congratulating the winner should be displayed. If neither player manages to get three consecutive marks along a straight line, but all the squares on the board are filled up, then the game is drawn. The computer always tries to win a game. 

By performing a grammatical analysis of this problem statement, it can be seen that nouns have been underlined in the problem description and the actions or verbs have been italicized. However, on closer examination synonyms can be eliminated from the identified nouns. The list of nouns after eliminating the synonyms is the following: Tic-tac-toe, computer game, human player, move, square, mark, straight line, board, row, column, and diagonal.

From this list of possible objects, nouns can be eliminated e.g. human player, as it does not belong to the problem domain. Also, the nouns square, game, computer, Tic-tac-toe, straight line, row, column, and diagonal can be eliminated, as any data and methods can not be associated with them. The noun move can also be eliminated from the list of potential objects since it is an imperative verb and actually represents an action. Thus, there is only one object left – board. 

After being experienced in object identification, it is not normally necessary to really identify all nouns in the problem description by underlining them or actually listing them down, and systematically eliminate the non-objects to arrive at the final set of objects. 

The step-by-step workout of the analysis and design procedure is given as follows:

  • The use case model is shown in fig 37.10.
  • The initial domain model is shown in fig 37.23(a).
  • The domain model after adding the boundary and control classes is shown in fig 37.23(b).
  • Sequence diagram for the play move use case is shown in fig. 37.25. 
  • Class diagram is shown in fig. 37.24. The messages of the sequence diagram have been populated as methods of the corresponding classes.  

Software Design: Embedded Systems - 6 | Embedded Systems (Web) - Computer Science Engineering (CSE)

Software Design: Embedded Systems - 6 | Embedded Systems (Web) - Computer Science Engineering (CSE)  

Fig. 37.24 (a) Initial domain model (b) Refined domain model  

Software Design: Embedded Systems - 6 | Embedded Systems (Web) - Computer Science Engineering (CSE)

Fig. 37.25 Class diagram

Software Design: Embedded Systems - 6 | Embedded Systems (Web) - Computer Science Engineering (CSE)

Fig. 37.26 Sequence diagram for the play move use case  

The document Software Design: Embedded Systems - 6 | Embedded Systems (Web) - Computer Science Engineering (CSE) is a part of the Computer Science Engineering (CSE) Course Embedded Systems (Web).
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