Insights from expert software design practice

Petre, Marian (2009). Insights from expert software design practice. In: 7th joint meeting of the European Software Engineering Conference (ESEC) and the ACM SIGSOFT Symposium on the Foundations of Software Engineering (FSE), 24-28 Aug 2009, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, pp. 233–242.




Software is a designed artifact. In other design disciplines, such as architecture, there is a well-established tradition of design studies which inform not only the discipline itself but also tool design, processes, and collaborative work. The 'challenge' of this paper is to consider software from such a 'design studies' perspective. This paper will present a series of observations from empirical studies of expert software designers, and will draw on examples from actual professional practice. It will consider what experts' mental imagery, software visualisations, and sketches suggest about software design thinking. It will also discuss some of the deliberate practices experts use to promote innovation. Finally, it will open discussion on the tensions between observed software design practices and received methodology in software engineering.

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