Agencies discover tool set to cure development ills

Program managers at NASA and the National Security Agency recently bought automated
tools from Software Emancipation Technology Inc. of Burlington, Mass., to attack some of
their most vexing client-server software development problems.


The software craft is less than 50 years old, company president Donald Henrich said,
and it lacks the structured processes that older engineering disciplines have evolved to
handle complexity.


“We’ve copied what mechanical engineers have done with computer-aided design,
electrical engineers have done with circuit design and logistics people have done with
enterprise resource planning,” Henrich said.


Software is much more expensive to maintain if created outside an organization, which
is another reason the maintenance frustrates managers, Henrich said. Contractors create
the applications, the government accepts them, and then its own engineering talent has to
maintain them.


Software Emancipation’s Discover tool set makes a repository for source code
information and automates development tasks by extending the integrated environment, which
typically consists of compiler, debugger, editor and configuration manager.


“We wrap around that whole thing and create a synchronized, systemwide development
tool set,” Henrich said.


The engineering tool set automates rehosting tasks when applications are moved from
mainframe to client-server hardware or from Unix to Microsoft Windows NT, he said.


The tool set also generates documentation and reduces the cost of producing Defense
Department documentation by 60 percent or more, Henrich said. “The government is fond
of documentation, and programmers are not,” he added.


Discover generates and synchronizes specifications, flow charts and user documentation.


Discover Y2K is a separate module for managing client-server year 2000 projects. Its
impact analysis function, for example, shows what a change to one component will do to the
entire set of components or applications.


Contact Software Emancipation at 781-359-3000.  


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