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Sketching

We know, for example, that many of the better software engineers, analysts, and designers do their finest work by sketching out a broad-brushed picture of what they want to do, then going back to fill in details or elaborate. Look over the shoulder of such a problem solver and watch what she does. She might start a design by drawing a whole collection of component symbols. Then she begins to fill in the relationships among some of these blank boxes, drawing lines and arrows among them. Finally, she labels the components and specifies some details of the interconnections.

What about typical CASE tools? In many of them, you select a diagram symbol with the mouse from a collection of icons, position the cursor, again with the mouse, where you want the symbol to appear in the diagram being developed, and then click to drop the symbol in place. At this point, a dialogue box opens up and asks you to name the thing, which you must do in compliance with whatever general and corporate standards are being enforced for the naming of such symbols. Next you are called on to describe it, specify its interfaces, and maybe choose among several variants. Only after all this is completed in conformance with the syntax checking in force are you allowed to return to the drawing. By this time you have probably forgotten what you earlier knew you were going to do next. Worse, the general conception of the content and structure of the problem that seemed so clear when you reached for the mouse is now lost, erased from your mental map by the CASE tool's preoccupation with distracting details.


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