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Software engineering endeavours are typically based on and governed by the requirements of the target software; requirements identification is therefore an integral part of software development methodologies. Similarly, engineering a software development methodology (SDM) involves the identification of the requirements of the target methodology. Methodology engineering approaches pay special attention to this issue; however, they make little use of existing methodologies as sources of insight into methodology requirements. The authors propose an iterative method for eliciting and specifying the requirements of a SDM using existing methodologies as supplementary resources. The method is performed as the analysis phase of a methodology engineering process aimed at the ultimate design and implementation of a target methodology. An initial set of requirements is first identified through analysing the characteristics of the development situation at hand and/or via delineating the general features desirable in the target methodology. These initial requirements are used as evaluation criteria; refined through iterative application to a select set of relevant methodologies. The finalised criteria highlight the qualities that the target methodology is expected to possess, and are therefore used as a basis for defining the final set of requirements. In an example, the authors demonstrate how the proposed elicitation process can be used for identifying the requirements of a general object-oriented SDM. Owing to its basis in knowledge gained from existing methodologies and practices, the proposed method can help methodology engineers produce a set of requirements that is not only more complete in span, but also more concrete and rigorous.
Date of Publication: April 2010