Development of a client interface for a methodology independent object-oriented CASE tool : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Computer Science at Massey University
The overall aim of the research presented in this thesis is the development of a prototype CASE Tool user interface that supports the use of arbitrary methodology notations for the construction of small-scale diagrams. This research is part of the larger CASE Tool project, MOOT (Massey's Object Oriented Tool). MOOT is a meta-system with a client-server architecture that provides a framework within which the semantics and syntax of methodologies can be described. The CASE Tool user interface is implemented in Java so it is as portable as possible and has a consistent look and feel. It has been designed as a client to the rest of the MOOT system (which acts as a server). A communications protocol has been designed to support the interaction between the CASE Tool client and a MOOT server. The user interface design of MOOT must support all possible graphical notations. No assumptions about the types of notations that a software engineer may use can be made. MOOT therefore provides a specification language called NDL for the definition of a methodology's syntax. Hence, the MOOT CASE Tool client described in this thesis is a shell that is parameterised by NDL specifications. The flexibility provided by such a high level of abstraction presents significant challenges in terms of designing effective human-computer interaction mechanisms for the MOOT user interface. Functional and non-functional requirements of the client user interface have been identified and applied during the construction of the prototype. A notation specification that defines the syntax for Coad and Yourdon OOA/OOD has been written in NDL and used as a test case. The thesis includes the iterative evaluation and extension of NDL resulting from the prototype development. The prototype has shown that the current approach to NDL is efficacious, and that the syntax and semantics of a methodology description can successfully be separated. The developed prototype has shown that it is possible to build a simple, non-intrusive, and efficient, yet flexible, useable, and helpful interface for meta-CASE tools. The development of the CASE Tool client, through its generic, methodology independent design, has provided a pilot with which future ideas may be explored.