The Structure Definition subphase

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In the USoft Approach, Structure Definition is a subphase of the DEFINE phase.


In the Structure Definition subphase, you specify and implement structure.

Specifying structure

Structure is specified when you work on tasks of the SPECIFY task type.

By default in USoft, structure is specified in terms of concept structure in the sense of SBVR. Noun concepts and verb concepts are the basic building blocks of such a concept structure. They are connected by various relationships that may exist between these concepts. For example, a noun concept N1 can be a verb concept role involved in a verb concept V1. Or N1 can specialize another noun concept N2. Or N1 can instantiate N2. Structure definition of this type encompasses the formulation of definitions of terms for the key concepts, where possible and appropriate. Structure specification results in what SBVR calls a terminological dictionary.

Concept structure is declared in USoft Teamwork. Alternatively, USoft's URequire tool offers more innovatory options for Structure Definition. If you use URequire, you can also optionally create E/R (Entity/Relationship) diagrams. The tool will automatically link elements from this type of diagram to text expressions.

Alternatively, you can choose to define structure in a different way outside USoft. Popular formats for structure definition include UML models, various types of object/fact models, E/A/R (Entity/Attribute/Relationship) diagrams and data structure descriptions.

You can specify structures in USoft Teamwork or in URequire without implementing them in USoft Definer.

Implementing structure

Structure is implemented when you work on tasks of the IMPLEMENT task type.

By default in USoft, structure is implemented by declaring domains, tables, columns, relationships and their attributes in USoft Definer. USoft automatically creates data structure (in underlying database tables) and default UIs (human user interfaces) on the basis of such declarations. These declarations also supply a concept structure to the rules service. Rule implementations in USoft are based on structure implementations.

Usually, the key concepts of the specified structure translate directly to USoft tables, columns, domains and relationships, while less important or less data-oriented concepts correspond only to specific UI elements or non-UI interfaces. Other specified concepts may be important to understand the business area without corresponding directly to implemented USoft constructs.

You can implement structures in USoft Definer without first specifying them in USoft Teamwork or URequire. In fact, specifying them is completely optional.

In USoft Definer, it is possible to define component tables that act in the same way as default structures, but are associated with code-based components instead of physical database tables.

NOTE: The sequence of subphases Structure Definition - Rule Definition - Interface Definition suggests an ordering in time but this is relative. It is true that when you start working on a completely new area, you usually specify structure first, then rules, and then interfaces. But in all other cases, you are likely to make alterations to all three as you go along. Most rules clearly depend on structure. Interfaces are also fairly clearly related to underlying structure, but less so on rules.


See Also

The DEFINE Phase

The Rule Definition subphase

The Interface Definition subphase