Software Engineering-Design Heuristics For Effective Modularity


Once program structure has been developed, effective modularity can be achieved by applying the design concepts introduced earlier in this chapter. The program structure can be manipulated according to the following set of heuristics:

1. Evaluate the "first iteration" of the program structure to reduce coupling and improve cohesion. Once the program structure has been developed, modules may be exploded or imploded with an eye toward improving module independence. An exploded module becomes two or more modules in the final program structure. 
An imploded module is the result of combining the processing implied by two or more modules. An exploded module often results when common processing exists in two or more modules and can be redefined as a separate cohesive module. When high coupling is expected, modules can sometimes be imploded to reduce passage of control, reference to global data, and interface complexity.

2. Attempt to minimize structures with high fan-out; strive for fan-in as depth increases. The structure shown inside the cloud in figure does not make effective use of factoring. All modules are “pancaked” below a single control module. In general, a more reasonable distribution of control is shown in the upper structure. The structure takes an oval shape, indicating a number of layers of control and highly utilitarian modules at lower levels.

3. Keep the scope of effect of a module within the scope of control of that module. The scope of effect of module e is defined as all other modules that are affected by a decision made in module e. The scope of control of module e is all modules that are subordinate and ultimately subordinate to module e. Referring to figure, if module e makes a decision that affects module r, we have a violation of this heuristic, because module r lies outside the scope of control of module e.

4. Evaluate module interfaces to reduce complexity and redundancy and improve consistency. Module interface complexity is a prime cause of software errors .Interfaces should be designed to pass information simply and should be consistent with the function of a module. Interface inconsistency (i.e., seemingly unrelated data passed via an argument list or other technique) is an indication
of low cohesion. The module in question should be reevaluated.

5. Define modules whose function is predictable, but avoid modules that are overly restrictive. A module is predictable when it can be treated as a black box; that is, the same external data will be produced regardless of internal processing details. Modules that have internal "memory" can be unpredictable unless care is taken in their use.

A module that restricts processing to a single subfunction exhibits high cohesion and is viewed with favor by a designer. However, a module that arbitrarily restricts the size of a local data structure, options within control flow, or modes of external interface will invariably require maintenance to remove such restrictions.

6. Strive for “controlled entry” modules by avoiding "pathological connections." This design heuristic warns against content coupling. Software is easier to understand and therefore easier to maintain when module interfaces are constrained and controlled. Pathological connection refers to branches or references into the middle of a module.
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