Saturday, December 27, 2014

Programming.

You are kind of like a computer and you need logical instructions to solve a problem. Those instructions are the programming that is needed. So what is it about?



Programming is required so that we can solve a problem.  What a lot of people think programming is about.




What are the parts of the system?  They are:

System parts

Component

People

Hardware

Data
Instructions
Procedures

Software

Information



There is actually a lot more as you can see from the list below. I may differ from this list a bit.


We want to build a program, but first we have to see what we need. What are we looking for in results. Obviously you need to be organized. You need a plan.





Output:
What must the results look like?  Reports:hard copy, terminal, web output, or etc


 Output datafiles:
 
Inputs:
How will we get the data into the system?


 What form must the input data take:



How will we process the data from input to output:  Formulas and logic needed should be documented. Flowcharts are a way to document what your plans are. Two flowcharts of many used are first the Vtoc.


And then second is the traditional flowchart.


For specific symbols see: http://itcartoons.blogspot.com/2014/12/flow-chart-symbols.html
 



What hardware do we need?
There used to be a joke that you could not get fired for purchasing IBM with using the Intel platform. Nor so true anymore. Do need special input and or special output devices. What kind of networking. What kind of security equipment. In the past the computer hardware platform was dominated at least with the desktop systems if Intel versus PPC. The PPC platform has gone awaym but we now have the Arm processors really begin to flood the market. Arm is become the best for lighter platforms (embedded) and the Intel systems are taking the high end. That is changing now that the multicore Arm processors are more powerfull and easier to get.


What development software? 
What kind of software do we need. That goes not only for the development software, but for specialized firmware. For example,  Networking equipment comes with the manufacturers software. Many people choose to prefer third party software that is usually more powerful. We have seen that a lot with your home routers. Instead of the usual firmware, Openwrt or DDWrt may be used to replace the factory firmware.

One factor that is usually forgotten is how user friendly will the software be. Is it intuitive? How knowledgeable will the users already be. Hopefully they will they not be required to be constantly looking at manuals to use the software.

That being said development software, varies in the range of source code they prefer. C, Java, or many other languages might be used. What development language you might use also depends on the skill set of the program developers. Though more and more programmers are finally becoming diversified.

You might want to also consider how portable is the code going to be, can we reuse the code on newer or different platforms. What kind of software licenses will be required and other legal issues that might potentially arise. On a wide scale, will it be copyrighted or open source. Is there a chance that, there will be a question of ownership, as with Oracle and Java.

What data validation software and techniques need to be used to prevent problems. Or to quote and old addage of GIGO. (Garbage in then you will have  Garbage out).


Having decided all that, now we can start coding. Obviously as we go along, things will need to be changed. Source code should never be written in stone. You also want to make sure adequate backups or duplicates of the software are kept to prevent loss. One other issue is security. How sure are you the code will not get leaked to competitors either from inside or outside sources.


Testing and debugging. (expect the unexpected)
Lastly, what kinds of debugging tools and test data will we need to verify the competency of the software. When you think you have tested it enough, test it again. Will the dummy data be diverse enough to test all possible scenarios. Testing software will also need to be developed if not readily available.  One thing for sure is that even if you think everything is perfect, do not remove any existing systems till your new software proves to be robust. You would running software in tandem with the existing setup.

You may want to do testing, that forces the system to fail. You will be able to gauge what safeguards and others features need to be built in to easily recover from any possible disasters.

Have been in enough real world situations where everything was supposed to be perfect, but when the software was put into production, there were nothing but problems. Could tell quite a few war stories so to speak about installing new systems. Even if you do get it right, you may want to change how the software works or be able to additional equipment. That all requires redevelopment and retesting. 

Documentation. (and training)
If potential users are made part of the testing process, you can gauge how user friendly your system is.  Then make changes as needed. Feedback from users can be a tool to also what needs to be part of the documentation of the project. Where did those users feel that they needed more instruction.

New users will also be a part of the documentation testing as what needs to also be included or improved as they are being trained on the software.  What are the proper procedures for the use of the software, handling of the equipment, and dealing with the data that is needed to get the information required.

End users will need to be trained as to whether the information generated by the system is valid. If the information in a form that is useful, how will the information be used. Was the problem solved with what was done? Here we go again.

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