Use of Flowcharts in Software Engineering

by | Mar 21, 2019 | Customer Service | 0 comments

Manufacturing ranks among the oldest activities known to humankind. The expanse of human history indicates that the domain of manufacturing touched a range of commodities; these included primitive clothing and early forms of textiles, body armor and the weapons of war, crude toys for children, metal-based fiat currency, wines and intoxicants, perfumes and fragrances, luxury items, colors and dyes, various forms of building materials, among others. In modern times, the manufacturing industry remains one of the cornerstones of the globalized economy. In line with this, business thinkers have brought to the fore lean project management techniques with a view to drive cost-savings in modern manufacturing methodologies. Observers note, “The ultimate goal of lean methodology is to reduce waste.” Similarly, the skills and techniques of modern software engineering rely on analytical diagrams known as flowcharts. These illustrations have demonstrated their worth by supporting said domain through the various phases of its evolution.

The designers and architects of software programs can deploy flowchart diagrams in a bid to execute activities pertaining to software analysis. A typical flowchart in this project might include all the tasks listed for fulfillment by a new piece of software. In addition, the flowchart may identify all stakeholders, collect a variety of requirements, analyze the same, and present a plan for implementing a solution. This aspect of software engineering finds enablement in inter-linked diagrams that set the proverbial stage for successful software development. The major benefit of such a diagram resides in the fact that it is readable by human beings using unaided vision. The diagram also excels as a business document that lays the foundation for a wide variety of projects.

The visualization of information remains one of the cornerstones of modern software engineering systems. A data processing project, for instance, may commence at a flowchart diagram that delineates the various stages of said project. The illustration may comprise a series of sequences that includes markers such as time correction, a range of digital filters, velocity analysis, 3-D slices of data as it evolves, the various attributes of the data in question, etc. Clearly, this descriptive illustration serves as a roadmap for engineers involved in software engineering processes. Each marker in said illustration can emit a set of child processes as deemed appropriate by designers and data experts. In addition, certain complexities and unanticipated situations may emerge that might be rendered outside of the master flowchart. Further, reviewers may seek to append additional stages in a bid to complete the depiction in all aspects.

Decision making represents an important objective in modern businesses. In line with this, business operators can invest in software engineering projects mandated to make the best use of data to drive business decisions. Such a project must employ the primary tenets of data science; the resulting flowchart diagram can spell various stages wherein raw data is collected, processed, sanitized; subjected to algorithmic processing, thereby leading to data analysis. The emergent data product is instructive in terms of informing and enriching business decisions with data-driven insights. This instance clearly illuminates the use of flow diagrams in software engineering projects. Observers note multiple instances of such flowcharts can assist business enterprises to cope with fluctuating market conditions with datasets that correspond to each instance of such variation. Further, software developers can modify certain algorithms with a view to drive fine adjustments that yield the most relevant insights.

The connector serves as an integrating element inside the classical expression of a flowchart diagram. The human eye follows a series of connectors as it pursues the flow of action to reach a conclusion cited in such diagrams. However, fresh iterations of software engineering design can present flowcharts that depict a series of sub-processes that emerge from primary stages and lead to independent conclusions. These represent a variance from diagrams that outline the contours of original structured programming sequences. Ergo, said sub-processes may represent, inter-alia, sequencing actions, selection actions, and loops that pervade a software engineering process. Each sub-process may present a logical flow that remains independent from its neighbor. Observers note such refinements are essential to expand the alliance between flowchart diagrams and emerging software engineering paradigms and constructs.

Data storage and data flows remain central aspects of modern software engineering practices. Such phenomenon remains key to ensuring the functionality of an engineering process. Certain designers may elect to place storage at the center of a diagram. Such positioning reinforces the designer’s ability to connect data storage modules to relevant sections of the flows as depicted inside the flowchart. That said, a form of visual complexity may emerge which can be countered by creating multiple sections of the master flowchart in different canvases. The simplified screens consequent to this approach allow readers and reviewers to gain a finer appreciation of the complexities inherent in modern software engineering practices. Subsequently, interesting variations may emerge wherein, data storage bins might be virtualized to accommodate digital versions of flowchart diagrams that describe various segments on the same canvas.

HIPO diagrams represent (hierarchical input process output) mechanisms that were first developed in the early 1970s. These illustrations allow designers to represent a high-level view of certain software engineering processes. The primary utility of such diagrams is resident in the fact that these “decompose functions into sub-functions in a hierarchical manner.” Consequently, the visual impression created by these illustrations represents a shallow hierarchy of stages and their sub-stages. HIPO diagrams retain their utility because “their graphical representation makes it easier for designers and managers to get the pictorial idea of the system structure.” These instances of a flowchart allow readers to gain quick insight into the large processes that animate software engineering enterprises. Their instructive value gains heft when these illustrations are deployed to train and educate novices into stalwart process experts.

Data flow diagrams (DFDs) are expansive illustrations that are crucial to software engineering blueprints. These flowcharts describe the movement of data between processes within a system and entities external to the master diagram. The act of creating and examining such illustrations allows software designers to gain a deeper appreciation of interactions between two different systems. Certain designers may elect to spotlight the points of interaction as a preamble to larger processes depicted inside a DFD. In addition, such diagrams allow readers to understand different aspects of a modern business operation at multiple levels. For instance, the quality of data that flows from external sources such as inventories, transactions, and customers help create dense ganglia of connections within a flowchart. Designers may elect to depict an external entity as a square, a process as a circle, and data store as an open-ended rectangle. Such depictions enhance the business case for deploying flowcharts in software engineering projects.

The foregoing paragraphs have sought to portray the various uses of flowchart diagrams in the service of software engineering processes. Master designers may deploy their creative instincts to diversify the visual expression of such illustrations, while adhering to the basics of orthodox design. They may also collaborate with coders and software architects as part of a plan to drive diversification. The resulting images can help expand the design lexicon. Such experimentation can also help generate higher degrees of visual variety, while creating new avenues for intelligent design practices.

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