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Distributed embedded computer systems are the key enablers of X-by-wire systems and control system functions. While developers can validate the correct operation of the communication and operating systems and the silicon implementations - the basis of embedded computer systems - once and for all, they cannot validate the application-dependent software and data structures in these systems in the same manner. The developer must configure the communication system for the respective application, create middleware code to access the communication system, and, last but not least, implement the application software. Because this is necessary for every new application, we need a well-defined process and a complementary set of tools to minimize error and support a high-quality development life cycle. We propose a model-based process - the "A" process. It consists of a sequence of models, each of which serves a specific purpose and hence contains only those pieces of information it requires for this purpose. The models are linked to each other by process transitions that either add information to or extract information from their predecessors. The A process guides the developer from one model to the next and is supported by a set Of tools. In this article, we discuss development process models in general, and our model-based process in particular