JWE Abstracts 

Vol.4 No.4 December 1, 2005
Editorial  (pp281-282)
        G-J Houben   
Research articles: 
Agile Web Engineering (AWE) Process: Perceptions within a Fortune 500 Financial Services Company (pp283-312)
        A. McDonald and R. Welland  
The Agile Web Engineering (AWE) Process was developed during 2001 to address the challenges that we believe new effective Web development processes will have to tackle. In October 2001, Andrew McDonald started a one year Ph.D. Internship with a Fortune 500 Global Financial Services Company with the goal of exploring the use of AWE in a commercial environment. In this paper we discuss the results of two surveys within the company. First, a company sponsored review of the current in-house software development process, before AWE’s first commercial pilot. Second, a survey of development and line management staff in both the business and the technology sectors, after AWE’s first commercial pilot.     The initial survey established how a large company, with extensive experience of software development, was coping with the changing demands of developing Web-based applications and other software projects where time-to-market pressures are a major driver. After introducing the principles of an agile approach to software development we carried out a successful pilot using AWE on a retail Internet banking application, significantly increasing end-user task completion rates. We then carried out a further survey to assess company stakeholders’ impressions of AWE.    Both the pre- and post-AWE Pilot surveys strongly suggest that the company is trying to cope with Web Engineering process challenges similar to those facing other organisations. The post-AWE pilot survey indicates that the AWE process is better suited and more capable as a Web Engineering process than the current in-house company process. The post-AWE Pilot also describes the primary hurdles encountered to getting AWE officially adopted within the company, these include: need for a cultural change before agile processes, including AWE, could be successfully adopted; inertia and the company’s desire to have a one-size fits all process approach as opposed to processes specific to different categories of software development.  We validated our findings using Boehm and Turner’s ‘home grounds’ analysis to identify the company’s sweet-spot in the process spectrum. Using home grounds analysis we identify that plan-driven processes rather than agile processes are better suited to typical projects within the company. However, home grounds analysis and both our surveys strongly indicate that better results can be achieved in Web Engineering projects within the company, by using an agile process approach, such as AWE, specifically focused on Web-based application development.

Impacts of Web Systems on their Domain (pp313-338)
        N. Yusop, D. Lowe, and D. Zowghi  
In web systems development, the business environment and processes not only drive the identification of system needs, but this environment and processes are also in turn fundamentally changed by the introduction or evolution of the system. This means that a web system during development will be highly volatile with a complex set of inter-dependencies with the various domain characteristics. We report on a detailed analysis of the literature related to these dependencies, and in particular the impacts that a Web system has on its environment.  We also present a framework that encapsulates the dimensions of impact on both the internal and external business environment.  From this analysis we show how different facets of the domain of a system are impacted in different ways. As the scale and immediacy of these impacts increase we need to become more predictive of these impacts in taking them into account during the development. Our analysis will provide organisations with the basis for moving towards this increased level of predictiveness. This analysis will also provide the organisations with a framework for developing strategies for joint development of system and business processes.

Server Enforced Program Safety for Web Applications (pp229-371)
        H. Detmold, K. Falkner, D.S. Munro, T. Olds, R. Morrison, and S. Norcross
As Web application development evolves from initial {\it ad hoc} approaches to large scale Web engineering, it is increasingly important to adopt systematic approaches to ensuring safety properties of Web applications. In particular, engineers constructing Web applications should be provided with at least the same guarantees of static safety as in preceding development paradigms; the current absence of such guarantees leads to Web application users being forced to endure failure modes that would never be accepted from conventional applications.   We observe that much is known about program safety in the traditional software development domain. Based on this observation, we contend that Web engineering should adopt an evolutionary rather than revolutionary approach to program safety. That is, existing solutions from conventional development should be evolved to match the exigencies of the Web engineering context, rather than engendering solutions that are wholly new.    With this evolutionary approach in mind, we introduce a categorisation of the problem area into four major safety properties, each related by analogy to a problem in the conventional development paradigm. Further, we observe that in the Web context, these properties are interrelated, and hence adopt an integrated model for their enforcement. Based on this integrated model, we demonstrate an approach to Web application safety that is both simpler and more powerful than previous, non-integrated, approaches. In contrast to previous systems, our approach as implemented in our WebStore application server achieves the safety goals without recourse to new and unfamiliar programming constructs. Finally, WebStone benchmark results comparing our server to existing mainstream Web application development platforms demonstrate that it provides acceptable performance for a wide range of Web applications.

Author Index (pp372-372)

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