Method Engineering: Who’s the Customer?
This paper reports from a large Danish effort to engineer an object-oriented method for analysis and design of computer systems. Over a period of six years a method was developed based on new ideas on how to learn object-orientation supplemented with well-known ideas of how to work object-oriented in systems development.
The experience from this method engineering effort is interpreted as an iterative process involving elements of theory, method and case records. These elements played different roles when engineering the method. But, what is more important, they became key elements in structuring and presenting the method to practitioners and students of the field.
This particular method engineering effort has thus been governed by a paradigm for learning methods rather than a paradigm for working with methods. We discuss this paradigm by exploring three issues involved in method engineering: (1) the relation between learning the method and working with the method; (2) the role of principles, patterns, and guidelines in explaining the method; and, finally, (3) the relation between concepts for reflection and modelling and concrete representations used to create texts and diagrams.
We suggest that the primary customers of method engineering are those studying methods eager to learn a class of new systems development practices. Those actually working with the method should be thought of in a secondary role when structuring and presenting a new method — even though they are the ultimate judges of the method’s practical strengths and weaknesses.
KeywordsMethod engineering systems development object-orientation learning working.
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