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A Specific Software Development Process for an Electronic Commerce Portal
3. Process description

The software development process for the development of a certain EC/EB system is defined by a process model. A process model presents all the activities (in a certain order), the required tools and the created intermediate or final products that are necessary to achieve the goal of the process. Thus, since a process model is tailored to a certain development project, it is more concrete than a generic practice model. A process model can however be based on a generic practice model. A process, on the other hand, is the execution of a process model (in the object-oriented way of thinking, a process is an instance of a process model), i.e. the tasks that are described in the process model are actually performed.

Although a formal description of a software development process in the form of a process model simplifies its support by automatic systems, it is not mandatory in order to achieve a positive effect in software development. In order to achieve consensus about the software development process among all involved people, a structured and comprehensive description can be sufficient. A company's knowledge about best practices was and is often described in internal documents and development guidelines. For example, ISO 9000 (part 1-3) defines only the contents of the description of best practices and development guidelines, but not their notation. However, description in a natural language bears the danger of misinterpretation because it usually has an enormous volume, and some concepts, dependencies and prerequisites can not always be precisely formulated.

The process model for the development of an actual EC/EB system - in this context, the IPSI electronic commerce portal - is presented schematically in Figure 2, using the Funsoft net notation [6]. In order to reduce the complexity of presentation and increase the level of abstraction, this notation allows to distinguish between elementary tasks (e.g. coarse draft, integration) and subprocess models which can again contain elementary tasks and subprocess models (e.g. requirements analysis, subsystem selection, prototype development).

Figure 2. Electronic commerce portal development process model.
Figure 2. Electronic commerce portal development process model.

The object-oriented design using UML, the implementation of adaptors to integrate software systems as subsystems of the electronic commerce portal using the Java programming language, and the use of a middleware (CORBA/RMI) for communication within the portal are represented in this software development process. The development process also shows that the use cases described in UML are an important prerequisite for several subprocess models.

In the following sections, the complex development process of the IPSI electronic commerce portal is described in reduced form by completely describing the subprocess models, but not their internal details.

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Authors: Volker Gruhn, Lothar Schöpe, Matthias Book -- Paper © 2001 The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. (IEEE)