Tool Design Concept

I tend to stick to a single, simple concept as I design tools regardless if this is Compiler, Assembler, HMI Designer or something else – I create a tool, a separate Repository and separate output generators as illustrated below:

This means that the tools (like HMI Designer) will store it’s output in a repository database which is in XML format. As this can be read and manipulated by several tools it allow us to easily create a larger, integrated tool package with multiple design tools and code generators working together. This is how modern CASE (Computer Aided Software Engineering) Tool should work.

A second, key prinsiple is that source code is stored in ASCII format editable by simple editors. In this case the repository is stored as XML. The reason is simply that you need ways to recover your project manually if files or tools screw up.

Some years ago I worked on a new tool that also stored it’s work as XML files. One of my projects was a total of ca 1300 files with cryptic content. And as this was a new, unstable tool created in Eclipse it crashed ca every 2-4 hour of usage destroyed it’s XML files. Recovering this manually was possible, but not realistic so I ended up manually backing up everything every 2nd hour. A file system is an excellent undo system and it cost very little to add a backup folder where the last n versions are saved. This way, if the project screw up you can chose to pick up the last saved version. Tools can easily do this automated, something that saves the day if disaster strikes.

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