Using dependency models to manage complex software architecture
An approach to managing the architecture of large software systems is presented. Dependencies are extracted from the code by a conventional static analysis, and shown in a tabular form known as the 'Dependency Structure Matrix' (DSM). A variety of algorithms are available to help organize the matrix in a form that reflects the architecture and highlights patterns and problematic dependencies. A hierarchical structure obtained in part by such algorithms, and in part by input from the user, then becomes the basis for 'design rules' that capture the architect's intent about which dependencies are acceptable. The design rules are applied repeatedly as the system evolves, to identify violations, and keep the code and its architecture in conformance with one another. The analysis has been implemented in a tool called LDM which has been applied in several commercial projects; in this paper, a case study application to Haystack, an information retrieval system, is described.