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A Combined Approach for Component-Based Software Design Supported by CNPq (Brazil).

Component-based software development enables the construction of software artefacts by assembling binary units of production, distribution and deployment, the socalled software components. Several approaches to component-based development have been propose

A Combined Approach for Component-Based Software Design

C. R. Guareis de Farias, M. van Sinderen, L. Ferreira Pires, D. Quartel

Telematics Systems and Services, University of Twente P.O. Box 217, 7500 AE, Enschede, The Netherlands {farias, sinderen, pires, quartel}@cs.utwente.nl

Abstract

Component-based software development enables the construction of software artefacts by assembling binary units of production, distribution and deployment, the so-called software components. Several approaches to com-ponent-based development have been proposed recently. Most of these approaches are based on the Unified Model-ing Language (UML). UML has been increasingly used in component-based development, despite some shortcom-ings of this language. This paper presents a methodology for the design of component-based applications that com-bines a model-based approach with a UML-based ap-proach. This combined approach tackles some of the limi-tations associated with UML, allowing a better control of the design process. Our combined approach is illustrated using some excerpts from a case study carried out on a chat application.

1. Introduction

Component-based software development has emerged to increase the reusability and portability of pieces of software. Component-based development aims at con-structing software artefacts by assembling (software) components. We define a component as a self-contained, customisable and composable binary piece of software, with well-defined interfaces and dependencies.

Traditional object-oriented software development aims at enabling the reuse of object type definitions (ob-ject classes) at design and implementation levels. In con-trast, component-based development aims at enabling the reuse of components at deployment level. Components represent complete pieces of functionality that are ready to be installed and executed in multiple environments, pro-vided that a middleware platform that supports the execu-tion of the components is available.

Some design methodologies addressing component-based development have been proposed recently. Most of them are based on the Unified Modelling Language (UML), c.f. [1, 5, 6, 7, 8]. UML [10] is a process-independent modelling language widely accepted in both

Supported by CNPq (Brazil).

academic and industrial settings. UML basically consists of a collection of diagrams used to model a system under different and often complementary perspectives.

Although UML has been increasingly used as the ba-sis for such development approaches, it still has some drawbacks that hinder its usage and effectiveness. So far, the support provided by UML for component-based de-velopment is limited. Both the UML component semantics and notation should be improved [9, 11]. A major change in UML with this respect is expected to occur with the release of the UML 2.0 specification, which is expected by the end of 2001.

The specification of complex behaviours using UML behaviour diagrams can be cumbersome [4]. These types of diagram provide roughly three general kinds of con-structs to describe the relationship between states or ac-tivities: enabling, interleaving (parallelism) and synchro-nisation. Other types of relationship that would improve the modelling capabilities of UML, such as non-deterministic choice and disabling, are not supported. Fur-ther, the specification of complex interaction patterns us-ing sequence diagrams often leads to diagrams of poor legibility.

Finally, the use of UML to model the service pro-vided by an application and to decompose this service into a set of components is usually informal and intuitive. Therefore, it is difficult to formally assess whether that the achieved decomposition in terms of components complies with the required service.

This paper presents a methodology for the develop-ment of component-based applications that combines a model-based approach [0] with a UML-based approach [5, 6]. This combined approach aims at profiting from the advantages of both approaches: the abstraction power and formality associated with the use of the abstract architec-tural modelling language AMBER [2, 12], and the diver-sity of concepts and public acceptance of UML. To exem-plify parts of our methodology we use some excerpts from a case study on a simple chat application.

This paper is further structured as follows: section 2 introduces AMBER; section 3 provides an overview of

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