Practical Application for Software Engineering: Data Flow Diagram & System Architecture

Instructor: Scott Tuning

Scott has been a faculty member in higher education for over 10 years. He holds an MBA in Management, an MA in counseling, and an M.Div. in Academic Biblical Studies.

A dataflow diagram transformed into a system architecture diagram is a powerful tool for software engineers that are developing all types of applications. They are especially helpful when developing complex enterprise applications.

Venturing Out on Her Own

Emily, a sharp and driven individual, was recently laid off when her technology-sector employer shipped her job (and hundreds of others) to international locations. During her nearly 15 years with her now-former company, Emily helped her organization develop some customized software products that made key customers quite happy. When faced with the choice about what she will do next, Emily decided to take her knowledge of software engineering and venture out as an independent consultant offering technology engineering expertise to companies that need customized enterprise application engineering services.

Emily's First Project

Emily's first client is XYZ Global Logistics Solutions which is a medium-sized, privately-owned firm that specializes in the international transportation of materials with unusually complex considerations like high-value art, one-of-a-kind musical instruments, and historical or cultural artifacts. Emily's deliverable is an enterprise application that will provide end-to-end support for all of XYZ's transportation logistics.

Mapping Data for LogisticsManagerPro2

To deliver this to her customer, Emily will build LogisticsManagerPro2 (LMPro2) - an enterprise application that will delight her client. One of her engineering tasks will be to create a data flow diagram (DFD) which she will then use to develop a system architecture. Her experience leads her to immediately begin executing some important tasks.

Step 1: Determine the Flow Type

To get started, Emily makes a rough sketch of the data flow type.

This rough outline illustrates the conceptual path that the work order data will travel.

When converted to a more formal illustration, the rough outline looks something like this.

Step 2: Establishing the Flow Boundaries

Next, Emily adds boundaries to indicate where data will cross over from inbound to outbound.

The red and blue dotted lines show where data enters and leaves the website and the on-site datastore.

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