Designing Class based components, traditional Components
An individual software component is a software package, a web service, a web resource, or a module that encapsulates a set of related functions (or data).
All system processes are placed into separate components so that all of the data and functions inside each component are semantically related (just as with the contents of classes). Because of this principle, it is often said that components are modular and cohesive.
With regard to system-wide co-ordination, components communicate with each other via interfaces. When a component offers services to the rest of the system, it adopts a provided interface that specifies the services that other components can utilize, and how they can do so. This interface can be seen as a signature of the component - the client does not need to know about the inner workings of the component (implementation) in order to make use of it. This principle results in components referred to as encapsulated. The UML illustrations within this article represent provided interfaces by a lollipop-symbol attached to the outer edge of the component.
However, when a component needs to use another component in order to function, it adopts a used interface that specifies the services that it needs. In the UML illustrations in this article, used interfaces are represented by an open socket symbol attached to the outer edge of the component.
A simple example of several software components - pictured within a hypothetical holiday-reservation system represented in UML 2.0.
Another important attribute of components is that they are substitutable, so that a component can replace another (at design time or run-time), if the successor component meets the requirements of the initial component (expressed via the interfaces). Consequently, components can be replaced with either an updated version or an alternative without breaking the system in which the component operates.
As a general rule of thumb for engineers substituting components, component B can immediately replace component A, if component B provides at least what component A provided and uses no more than what component A used.
Software components often take the form of objects (not classes) or collections of objects (from object-oriented programming), in some binary or textual form, adhering to some interface description language (IDL) so that the component may exist autonomously from other components in a computer.
When a component is to be accessed or shared across execution contexts or network links, techniques such as serialization or marshalling are often employed to deliver the component to its destination.
Reusability is an important characteristic of a high-quality software component. Programmers should design and implement software components in such a way that many different programs can reuse them. Furthermore, component-based usability testing should be considered when software components directly interact with users.
It takes significant effort and awareness to write a software component that is effectively reusable. The component needs to be:
· fully documented
· thoroughly tested
o robust - with comprehensive input-validity checking
o able to pass back appropriate error messages or return codes
· designed with an awareness that it will be put to unforeseen uses
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