The University of Sussex

Co-ordinating distributed ViewPoints: the anatomy of a consistency check

Steve Easterbrook, Anthony Finkelstein, Jeff Kramer, Bashar Nuseibeh

Support for Concurrent Engineering must address the "multiple perspectives problem" - many actors, many representation schemes, diverse domain knowledge and differing development strategies, all in the context of distributed asynchronous development. Central to this problem is the issue of managing consistency between the various elements of an emerging design. In this paper, we argue that striving to maintain complete consistency at all points in the development process is unnecessary, and an approach based on tolerance and management of inconsistency can be adopted instead. We present a scenario which highlights a number of important issues raised by this approach, and we describe how these issues are addressed in our framework of distributed ViewPoints. The approach allows an engineering team to develop independent ViewPoints, and to establish relationships between them incrementally. The framework provides mechanisms for expressing consistency relationships, checking that individual relationships hold, and resolving inconsistencies if necessary.

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