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Chapter 23. Shapes to Come > Between GUI and Grit

Between GUI and Grit

When the systems under construction become really complex, developers begin to long for the ability to build models at higher levels of abstraction, to represent and review the architecture of the system, not just the actual construction and not just the surface manifestations at the user interface. What you want is to make the programming units and their relationships visual as well. You want to be able to see the modules, the classes and objects, and the messages and references that interconnect them. You want to be able to see the structure of your code based on familiar notation and move through it using what J. D. Hildebrand has called a visual browser (Hildebrand 1994). You want to be able to send a message from here to there by drawing a line or to be able to move a method from one class to another by a drag-and-drop. In effect, you want a continuously active CASE tool with code conversion built in dynamically so that whatever you do in pictures is immediately reflected in code. And vice versa.

In other words, you want a truly integrated visual development environment, the convergence of CASE and WYSIWYG applications builders resulting from the continued addition of CASE-like capability to application development environments and from the tighter integration of GUI building and code generation within CASE tools. VisualAge represents the trend toward direct modeling in application builders, already allowing you to draw lines to interconnect GUI objects as well as nonvisible objects that lurk behind the scenes. On the more vanilla CASE side of things, tools like Together C++ keep the implementation model—the code—and the design models—the diagrams—in synch.


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