Collaborative Design in System Development: What Place for Design Rationale?

L. Candy, E. Edmonds

This paper reports a study of the use of Design Rationale methods in the co-operative design of a software system. Structured records of the design process aim to support the understanding of decisions taken and thereby allow designers to give better informed reconsideration to them at a later stage. This can be particularly important during maintenance. Methods for capturing the complexity of design deliberations in order to produce a Design Rationale (DR) in software design are still in the early stages of research. The approaches adopted are diverse: for example, from constructing representations for DR that are applied by the designer as part of the reflective process (e.g. MacLean et ai, 1991) to relating DR to design practice by examining concrete problems rather than abstract issues (e.g Lewis, Rieman and Bell, 1991). Nevertheless, evidence drawn from actual data gathered about the process of software design in practice remains limited.

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