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Use of Very High Level Languages and Program Generation by Management Professionals

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3 Author(s)
Thomas T. Cheng ; Faculty of Management, McGill University, Montreal, P. Q., Canada H3A 2A7. ; Evan D. Lock ; Noah S. Prywes

The introduction of very high level languages (VHLL) and automatic program generation are expected to reduce significantly the needed programming skills and considerably increase software development productivity. The paper explores the hypothesis that the preferred mode of developing management systems will be for the management professional to directly specify, generate, and debug the needed software without involvement of professional programmers. The investigation is experimental, by having an accountant develop an accounting system, using the equational type MODEL VHLL and program generator, and by monitoring carefully the times that it takes to perform certain steps or debug certain types of errors. The investigation consisted of progressive development of an accounting system in three stages: first a general ledger, extended for inventory management, and concluding with a major modification to incorporate reporting for the effects of changing prices in accordance with Financial Accounting Standard 33 (FAS 33). In this way the work pattern in modifying and maintaining a system was investigated as well. The developer was an M.B.A. candidate majoring in accounting with a limited computer background who determined the requirements of the accounting system and used MODEL to generate the programs, along with their extensions and modifications. A description of the accounting system design is presented first. Next, a sample MODEL specification is discussed in order to communicate generally the style of specifying computations in MODEL. This sample is used also to demonstrate the incorporation of FAS 33.

Published in:

IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering  (Volume:SE-10 ,  Issue: 5 )