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Astronomical Applications Department, U.S. Naval Observatory - NAO 150 (Page 11)

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Astronomical Applications Department, U.S. Naval Observatory - NAO 150
The benefits of a completely object-oriented approach are many, includ-
ing faster prototyping and development, fewer and more easily locatable
coding errors, vastly simpler and more intuitive design, more sophisticated
functionality, easily extensible architecture, and (most importantly) drasti-
cally reduced long-term maintenance costs. Another major benefit is that
the program can be brought up and running with minimal functionality, al-
lowing further capability to be easily and relatively painlessly incorporated
as need arises.
Ease of extensibility is largely a result of object-oriented design, but it is
also directly related to how good that design is. Hence, considerable effort
has gone and is still going into the design of Newcomb. Experience in the
software industry over the last one to two decades abundantly shows that
the payoff later on in terms of maintenance and extensibility is far out of
proportion to the effort expended early on -- in the design stages -- of the
program life cycle.
The benefits of a
environment for development and testing are also
very attractive. Chief among the attractions is the ease by which it is pos-
sible to create highly sophisticated graphical user interfaces. During de-
sign, graphical interface components -- such as buttons, edit fields, tool-
bars and so on -- are "dropped" onto a window form or dialog box. Use-
ful properties of the components are settable at design time, in addition to
being available during runtime. It is easy to create custom components as
well. For example, for Newcomb we designed a custom component that is
in fact a fully functional and self-contained power spectral density (
analysis package, including plots and file output. All that is needed to add
module to a program is to drop the
component onto a form or
dialog. Hence, building, changing, and extending the graphical user inter-
face of a program is astoundingly easy once a good overall design has been
created. This of course spills over and makes changing or extending major
program structural elements correspondingly painless.
2.3. Newcomb Project Outline
In these beginning stages of the Newcomb project, tasks naturally fall
into three main categories: program design, documentation, and science
applications. A rough outline of the most obvious subjects that must be
addressed is:
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