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The ACCU passes on review copies of computer books to its members for them to review. The result is a large, high quality collection of book reviews by programmers, for programmers. Currently there are 1918 reviews in the database and more every month.
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Title:
Modelling Systems
Author:
John Fitzgerald&Peter Gorm_Larsen
ISBN:
0 521 62348 0
Publisher:
Cambridge University Press
Pages:
269pp+CD
Price:
£24-95
Reviewer:
Francis Glassborow
Subject:
object oriented; writing solid code; modelling languages
Appeared in:
10-6
Let us assume that your client (with your help) has succeeded in producing a reasonably complete set of requirements. From this you want to produce an abstract model that will act as a basis for further analysis leading to design and eventual implementation. You probably know that there are various formal specification languages. A few may even know that there is an ISO standard language VDM-SL (Vienna Development Method Specification Language). If you already know more than that, it is time that you started writing a series of article for Overlaod.

This book is a practical tutorial on using VDM-SL for system modelling. It focuses on the needs of the technically proficient software engineer and doesn't wonder off on explorations of topics such as program proving (however interesting those may be). It comes complete with a CD that contains Toolbox Lite (a limited training version of the commercial IFAD VDM-SL Toolbox.) for Windows 95.

I wish that Toolbox Lite provided more of the functionality of the whole product. I would like to have tried the C++ code generator to test the quality of the generated code. None-the-less I was impressed by what was available, but then I am not a specialist in this kind of area.

This seems to be an excellent book for those in its target readership (unfortunately, many who should be at least aware of such tools are not and claim to lack the time to learn about them.) I hope you would feel profoundly unhappy at a building design that went straight from a set of requirements to drawings and construction without any form of feasibility check and engineering analysis. So why are so many people happy with software that just happens. Even for small jobs you know that there is more needed than just a bright idea. When I wanted my roof space converted into a workroom I knew what I wanted, I could even draw a pretty good outline, but I still needed various professional services to change that idea into a safely executed conversion. One of my neighbours tried to cut out the professional experts and go straight from concept drawing to builder. Several events later they had spent twice as much without achieving their original concept (building inspectors required serious changes to the completed work to make it safe) If you feel able to spend time and effort providing an in depth review (probably for Overload) of this book and learning about VDM-SL on the way please let me know.