While reading through a computer magazine, there would be instances where you would come across the word ‘component’. You will often find it when you read about component-based software engineering, component-based technology, or component management in software engineering. However, people might find it challenging to find the exact definition of ‘component’. Researchers from the software engineering industry have put forward different meanings for explaining the term to its best.
Therefore, this article has been crafted to avoid confusion and better understand component management in software engineering.
What is Component Management?
There is no agreement among researchers when it comes to defining the term component. Nevertheless, here are some popular definitions.
Clemens Szyperski states that a software component can be regarded as a composition unit consisting of explicit context dependencies and contractually specified interfaces only. Software components can be independently deployed and are also subjected to third-party compositions. Besides this, Rational Software’s Philippe Krutche has stated that a component can be explained as a nearly independent, replaceable, and nontrivial part of a system that completes the precise function of a well-structured architecture.
Therefore (CBSE) Component-Based Software Engineering is a type of process that focuses on developing and designing computer-based systems by utilizing reusable software components.
The community of software engineering has been long aware of the idea of components. It was first put forward by Mcllroy, who stated that the notion of a software component was to put components that would perform certain functions. Besides that, they can also be utilized as building blocks for building quality software systems quickly when that system is under construction. Therefore, various mature engineering disciplines use components as a well-adopted strategy.
However, until recently, the use of component management in software engineering has been adopted by software engineers to build their systems. Several online institutes offer software development courses to impart practical knowledge about component management.
Factors that lead to the adoption of component management in software engineering
● Available Technology
Due to the rising complexity and increase in the size of the leading software systems in today’s world, the age-old development strategies can hardly be reused. They are also incompetent in producing high-quality software systems within a specific time frame. To solve this software crisis, engineers now use software components. Moreover, recent development in technology has dramatically helped in facilitating component technology like assembling components. Available technology has also allowed in constructing and building components into a specific software system.
● Business Environment
Business pressure is another compelling factor that leads to the adoption of component technology. Nowadays, no software company can adopt a development cycle that takes more than two years. Most companies can also afford to wait for six months to a year. Hence, software systems can no longer be made using old-fashioned techniques.
Reusing is the only solution. Companies can save both time and resources by reusing the existing components. Companies also prefer large-size components featuring specific functionality that would help them outside library level functions. Reuse of design ideas like framework and design pattern along with code reuse is also needed.
● Observation from different engineering disciplines
Other engineering disciplines have effectively demonstrated the usefulness of component management. Other engineering disciplines have demonstrated the potential and power of implementing the use of components. In some engineering, disciples’ systems are decomposed into subsystems or smaller components.
For instance, in the car industry, the same subsystems can be reused for making newer systems. However, that is not the case when it comes to software engineering. Although software engineers can decompose an extensive system into smaller components or subsystems, the decomposition is not done systematically.
Different engineers have the option to decompose a single software system in various ways. Therefore, the chances of reusing those smaller components or the decomposed subsystems in another software system are very slim. Hence, this leads to the lengthening of the development cycle of the software system. Therefore, it can be concluded that component management and reuse is the most effective way of lowering the cost and saving resources while building software systems.
● High flexibility
Flexibility is another factor that helped component management in software engineering gain more popularity compared to other methods. Traditionally, people had two ways, both were extreme, for acquiring software systems. On the one hand, individuals had to build software systems specific to their requirements. The development team takes that system care, and they almost work on their work without getting much assistance from other teams. This leads to forming a fully customized system that can cater to all requirements and provide desired functionality.
However, the maintenance and development costs are high.
On the other hand, individuals either have to purchase a software package or a system. That way, there is hardly any maintenance burden and relatively lower costs. But there are disadvantages to this aspect as well. The software which is bought as a package usually aims to serve a general purpose. The software evaluates the market requirements, looks for the best features for a product, and then implements them. However, the problem arises when the software cannot incorporate all the required features. This makes that software less preferable as it cannot fulfill the function when needed. Therefore, when buyers are purchasing a software system, they need to ensure that they select the best fit for most of their requirements.
They need to keep in mind that bought software systems can hardly be reengineered to serve better and do certain functions. This is because software development companies hardly leave any room for modification in their products. That leaves buyers to only one option, that is component management. Buyers can easily purchase individual components or subsystems and build the entire system on their own.
This hybrid method of purchasing and making a software system makes component management in advance software engineering an appealing concept. Component management helps improve the software system’s quality, reduces maintenance costs, and saves time on development.
As functionality gets isolated in individual components, it becomes easy for engineers to quickly identify the responsible component and pinpoint the component’s problem. Apart from that, when new functionality or an upgrade is needed, one can replace, modify, or examine the corresponding component, making the entire process seamless, quick, and accessible.