Design and realization of an explanation component for software release planning
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AbstractProject planning is an early step in software development and it plays an important role in determining the success or failure of the software engineering practice in the course of software development. One typical aspect of project planning is release planning, in which requirements are grouped into temporarily ordered releases and the ordering within the releases is left to a later decision. In software development industry, release planning is of increasing importance and is increasingly accepted as an essential means to achieve better project results. However, the inherent problem in release planning is its highly complex and uncertain nature. Many aspects of release planning, including the objectives, constraints or effort estimates, are often imprecisely and informally stated by different stakeholders. Because of both the complexity and uncertainty of the problem, planning and prioritization results have to be complemented by other approaches. ReleasePlanner™ is an intelligent decision support tool for release planning based on the EVOLVE* methodology. In this thesis I propose an explanation component, EXPLAIN-RP, which is aimed to supplement and improve the support capabilities of ReleasePlanner™. The main contribution of my research is to integrate EXPLAIN-RP into the current EVOLVE* methodology in terms of its specification, design, and initial prototype realization. They are the basis for a more comprehensive explanation component in the future research. In more detail, main achievements of the thesis are: (i) high level design of an explanation component as part of an existing decision support system for software release planning, (ii) taxonomy of questions and answers to guide the dialogue between the user and the system, (iii) detailed design and initial implementation of EXPLAIN-RP, and (iv) illustration of the approach by a case study in the area of enterprise application integration.
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