Supporting Cooperation in the SPADE-1 Environment
Software development is a cooperative activity that heavily relies on the quality and effectiveness of the communication channels established within the development team and with the end-user. In the software engineering field, several Software Engineering Environments (SEE) have been developed to support and facilitate software development. The most recent generation of these environments, called Process-Centered SEE (PSEE), supports the definition and the execution of various phases of the software process. This is achieved by explicitly defining cooperation procedures, and by supporting synchronization and data sharing among its users.Actually, cooperation support is a theme of general interest and applies to all domains where computers can be exploited to support human-intensive activities. This has generated a variety of research initiatives and support technology that is usually denoted by the acronym CSCW (Computer Supported Cooperative Work).PSEE and CSCW technologies have been developed rather independently from each other, leading to a large amount of research results, tools and environments, and practical experiences. We argue that we have reached a stage in technology development where it is necessary to assess and evaluate the effectiveness of the research efforts carried out so far. Moreover, it is important to understand how to integrate and exploit the results of these different efforts.The goal of the paper is to understand which kind of basic functionalities PSEE can and should offer, and how these environments can be integrated with other tools to effectively support cooperation in software development. In particular, the paper introduces a process model we have built to support a cooperative activity related to anomaly management in an industrial software factory. The core of the paper is then constituted by the presentation and discussion of the experiences and results that we have derived from this modeling activity, and how they related to the general problem of supporting cooperation in software development. The project was carried out using the SPADE PSEE and the ImagineDesk CSCW toolkit, both developed at Politecnico di Milano and CEFRIEL during the past four years.