Frameworks are a valuable way to share designs and implementations on a large scale. Client programmers, however, have difficulty using frameworks. They find it difficult to understand non-local client-framework interactions, design solutions when they do not own the architectural skeleton, gain confidence that they have engaged with the framework correctly, represent their successful engagement with the framework in a way that can be shared with others, ensure their design intent is expressed in their source code, and connect with external files.
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A design fragment is a specification of how a client program can use framework resources to accomplish a goal. From the framework, it identifies the minimal set of classes, interfaces, and methods that should be employed. For the client program, it specifies the client-framework interactions that must be implemented. The structure of the client program is specified as roles, where the roles can be filled by an actual client s classes, fields, and methods. A design fragment exists separately from client programs, and can be bound to the client program via annotations in their source code. These annotations express design intent; specifically, that it is the intention of the client programs to interact with the framework as specified by the design fragment.

This work provides three primary contributions to software engineering. First, it provides a new technique to help programmers use frameworks. Second, it provides a systematic way to increase code quality. Design fragments provide a means to communicate known-good designs to programmers, and, unlike simple copying of examples, a means of influencing the uses of that design so that revisions can be propagated. Third, it provides an empirically-based understanding of how clients use frameworks, which aids researchers in choosing research directions and aids framework authors in delivery of new frameworks.

George Fairbanks has been teaching software architecture and object-oriented design for ten years for companies including Kinetium, Valtech, and Platinum Technology. In the Spring of 2008 he was the co-instructor for the graduate software architecture course at Carnegie Mellon University. He holds a PhD in Software Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University, advised by David Garlan and William (Bill) Scherlis. His dissertation introduced design fragments, a new way to specify and assure the correct use of frameworks through static analysis.

He has written production code for telephone switches, plugins for the Eclipse IDE, and everything for his own web dot-com startup. He maintains a network of Linux servers in his spare time. George is a program committee member for 2009 Working International Conference on Software Architecture (WICSA 2009), and has been a referee for IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering (TSE). His book on Risk-Centric Software Architecture is due in Fall 2010 from Taylor & Francis.

Presented by George H. Fairbanks

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