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A Software Development Process for Small-Scale Embedded Systems

Developing software for small-scale embedded applications is different from developing large-scale software applications. Large-scale applications use commercially available ‘one fits all’ software development solutions that are difficult to scale downward and usually miss the desired process goals. In many cases, developing a small-scale software application development process within an existing corporate environment is quicker, less expensive, and results in superior developer productivity and product quality.

Software pioneer Grady Booch famously commented that, “Building quality software in a repeatable and predictive fashion is hard.” This statement not only describes the difficulty of the software development process, but also describes the primary goal of any software development process — software products should be defect-free, maintainable, and have veracity requirements to guarantee successful operation.

Software development processes can be fully described by four orthogonal views: methodology, process artifacts, process procedures, and quality assurance. This article will focus on the methodology view.

Analysis Phase

The small-scale application development methodology is best described as a use-case-driven “hybrid spiral” (part waterfall, part iterative). The analysis phase is the waterfall portion of the hybrid. The ability to perform this upfront analysis in detail is a unique advantage of small-scale development.