CHAPTER 1 Software Engineering from 20,000 Feet

There are two ways of constructing a software design. One way is to make it so simple that there are obviously no deficiencies. The other way is to make it so complicated that there are no obvious deficiencies. The first method is far more difficult.

—C.A.R. HOARE

WHAT YOU WILL LEARN IN THIS CHAPTER:            

  • The basic steps required for successful software engineering
  • Ways in which software engineering differs from other kinds of engineering
  • How fixing one bug can lead to others
  • Why it is important to detect mistakes as early as possible

In many ways, software engineering is a lot like other kinds of engineering. Whether you’re building a bridge, an airplane, a nuclear power plant, or a new and improved version of Sudoku, you need to accomplish certain tasks. For example, you need to make a plan, follow that plan, heroically overcome unexpected obstacles, and hire a great band to play at the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

The following sections describe the steps you need to take to keep a software engineering project on track. These are more or less the same for any large project although there are some important differences. Later chapters in this book provide a lot more detail about these tasks.

REQUIREMENTS GATHERING

No big project can succeed without a plan. Sometimes a project doesn’t follow the plan closely, but every big project must have a plan. The plan tells project members what they should be doing, when and how ...

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