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Part IV: Tools, Models, and Methods

Part IV: Tools, Models, and Methods

Introduction

Our distant ancestors were dubbed homo habilis, “man, the tool maker.” Human beings are not nature's only tool makers, but it is certainly an essential expression of our relation to the world around us. We extend our reach through tools. We see the un-seeable, move the unmovable, manipulate the microscopic, and construct the gargantuan. We write programs, which are at once invisible and enormous. Many common trades and activities would be all but impossible in their modern form were it not for good tools. Carpentry, mechanics, civil engineering, aeronautics, electronics, cooking—all have their kits of essential tools and their methods of application.

The tools of many trades include not only those tools that you can hold in your hand but also those that you hold in your head. These are the ways of thinking and of representing thoughts that define the profession and the professional. Models and model-building are conceptual tools that give software developers intellectual leverage as surely as a crowbar gives mechanical leverage to construction crews. Just as the carpenter must learn how and when to use a crosscut saw, a software engineer must understand the appropriate methods for applying the conceptual and other tools of software development.



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