BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY INSIGHTS

Specification-driven development: A Pragmatic Approach for Continuous Technology Upgrade

 
April 30, 2019

In the software industry, market dynamics change so fast that it is practically impossible to remain technologically updated. There is always a risk of being left behind in this rapidly moving technology race. Enterprises take technology upgrades or migrations as an option for various reasons, including:

o   Keeping pace with increase in business functionality

o   Reengineering a business function to support business rules and regulations

o   Staying in-line with vendor upgrades

o   Upgrading existing technology for handling nonfunctional aspects such as upgrades for security or third party component vulnerability

Managing such critical changes, with zero risk for business continuation and less turnaround time (TAT) is critical while handling change management. Platforms that facilitate specification-driven application development play a vital role in fulfilling the demand for continuous technology upgrades of various business critical applications. Specification-driven development involves processing specifications which are in the form of standard patterns or models to effectively obtain output from various phases of software development life cycle. These development platforms help execute each step of the development processes efficiently, such as design, development, management, and documentation, through enablers such as:

  • Code generators that take specifications as an input to generate various artefacts such as property files, code pertaining to various architectural layers, model reports, deployment configuration files etc.
  • Well-defined user interfaces that capture specifications for every stage of the software development process

 

Continuous upgrade for user interface

Specification-driven application development platforms make it easier to create and upgrade applications and the technology doesn’t constrain the types of applications that can be built. Technology-independent specifications for various design architectural layers are stored in databases called model or specification repositories. Using the efficient mechanism of model to text transformation-based code generators, code is generated in the required technology, confirming standard architectural patterns. These application development platforms continuously upgrade their generators that create codes in the latest technologies using the given technology-independent specifications. With such automation platforms, users can leverage this capability of upgraded generators to continuously and seamlessly upgrade the code with the latest technology or versions.

For example, manually upgrading the presentation layer of the application from web application framework, such as Struts, to latest frameworks such as JavaScript/TypeScript-based frameworks can demand significant effort. This migration would often involve completely new development, while migrating to new technology, making it practically impossible for organizations to keep their application up to date with latest technologies.

In this era of digital applications, specification-driven platforms encompass highly efficient, continuously upgraded code generators. They transform applications from one presentation layer technology to another, while mitigating risks of transformation. Besides, the cost of development and maintenance increases primarily due to the requirement of porting applications on various platforms such as desktop and mobile among others. Development platforms address this challenge efficiently by using technology-independent specifications and robust code generators that leverage modern web frameworks to generate responsive applications, resulting in remarkable user experience and delight.

Business Service transformation from monolith to microservices

Over the past two decades, business logic implementation has seen different types of variations and transformation, ranging from remote method invocation (RMI)-based service-oriented architecture (SOA) and web services-based SOA, to microservices-based architecture. As the size of application and business demand increases, it is important for any organization to transform the architecture pattern of business layers of various applications, partially or completely. Typically, an increase in the size of monolith applications necessitates a gradual split to migrate them to microservices. This could also involve identification of functional boundaries for potential refactoring into microservices.

Applications developed using specification-driven development platforms can easily adopt this architectural transition. Such applications leverage the platform’s capability of standard specification structures, to identify the functional boundaries, isolate those functionalities, decompose them to microservices and generate applications with pure monolithic/ microservices-based/ hybrid architectures. These development platforms play a significant role in assembling the application using various package structures, besides generating deployment configuration files for different cloud environments for moving applications quickly to various application servers and cloud environments.

This type of development methodology typically add up two to six weeks to the development life cycle in the initial stage of development, but can save months or even years of struggle during maintaining the existing application and upgrading the application with newer technology

Jyoti Joshi is Engineering Lead of TCS MasterCraft™ TransformPlus Forward Engineering Edition, the digital application development platform. With over 18 years of experience in IT, Joshi played a key role in various project and product development assignments. Her expertise includes managing large implementations and technical solutions. She is TOGAF certified enterprise architect. Joshi holds a Bachelors of Engineering Degree in Computer Science and Engineering from Govt. College of Engineering, Aurangabad.