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Sunday, June 17, 2012

Data Restructuring - An activity involved in software re-engineering process model

Software re- engineering process model constitutes of the below mentioned 6 major  steps:
  1. Inventory analysis
  2. Documentation reconstruction
  3. Reverse engineering
  4. Code re- structuring
  5. Data re- structuring
  6. Forward engineering
In this article we have discussed about the 5th stage of the software re- engineering process model i.e., the data re- structuring. 
Without a working code or an active flow of data a software system or application cannot be considered to be working. Therefore for the software systems and applications which have become outdated should be again brought up to the current acceptable software standards and data re- structuring is the one of the processes that can help in this regard. 

- This step of software re- engineering process model takes into consideration the restructuring of the data without making changes to the functionality of the software system or application. 
- With the re- structuring of data, the maintenance of the whole software system or application becomes so very easy. 
- The need to re- structure data arises when the data bases become too obsolete to be handled directly. 
- When the changes made to the data are confined only to the sub system, the data of the sub system needs to be re- structured. 
- The data re- structuring becomes even easier when the data re- structuring tools are easily available. 
- This step is carried out after the completion of the code re- structuring. 
- Unlike the previous re- structuring step, this step calls for a full cycle of reverse engineering. 
- The current structure of the data is dissected while defining the data models and the existing data models are run through a quality check or review test.
- So many of the legacy systems tend to make use of the global data structures and shared tables in order to save the memory space.
- Such shared data structures need to be converted in to objects like ADTs for restructuring. 

Benefits of Data Re-structuring

One of the benefits of restructuring the data is that it certainly improves the quality of the software program or application. 
- Furthermore, it becomes easier to test and debug the software system or application along with a reduction in the efforts in the maintenance of the software and also the frustration of the developer is reduced. 
- As a bonus point, the productivity is also improved. 

Steps in Data Re-structuring

The re- structuring of the data involves the following steps:
  1. Analysis of the source code of the application.
  2. Redesigning of the data
  3. Standardization of the data record.
  4. Rationalization of the data name.
  5. Translation of the file or data base.

Drawbacks of Data Restructuring

In spite of having so much plus points, the re- structuring does have some minus points which have been listed below:
  1. Re- structuring does not improve the understandability of the data driven programs.
  2. Re- structuring demands for heavy computations.
  3. Re- structuring can lead to a loss of source code comments.
  4. Restructuring does not helps with the problems with poor modularization i.e., the programs in which the components are wide spread through out the program.
  5. Restructuring can lead to the loss of documentation.
From the discussion above, we can say the restructuring of data is a process that re –structures the source data in to the target data during the transformation process. 
Data re- structuring forms an integral part of the software re- engineering process model and therefore the above mentioned disadvantages of the data re- structuring are ignored. It is necessary that the data re- structuring is carried out after the code re- structuring since during the execution of the program, the code only handles the flow of the data. Therefore if the code itself has not been re- structured before re- structuring the data then the whole process does not makes any sense. 

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