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qef - An architecture for a construction system
The QEF Software Process

    One of the major objectives listed in the first section was the promotion of an effective software process. qef does not require any particular process methodology -- users may use qef in much the same way they would use make. Howev er, a number of tools and features have been implemented to support the total separation of the source and object trees and source view pathing. These mechanisms allow multiple independ constructions to share a common source tree. Furthermore each build can specify the optional insertion of a user's own source override tree to contain those files modified by the user.

    A typical qef using site will set into place procedures whereby someone (e.g., a librarian) will be responsible for maintaining a version of the product that is consistent with a master source tree. This responsibility is usually fulfilled by running qef at the top of an object tree for each required platform and checking the results on a daily basis. These product trees will be searched for any product files that the developers need during construction that are not being built by the developers themselves. Meanwhile developers make their source modifications to files copied to or created in their own source trees, thereby protecting the master source users and other developers from their changes. Developers will then build a version of the product incorporating their modifications in their own directories. The simple configuration mechanism, the run-time script generation and the comprehensive consistency mechanism ensures that the constructed products are virtually identical to that that would be built from the current master sources if it incorporated the modified files.

    Some mechanisms are required to facilitate interfacing to the versioning system being used (e.g., to check files in and out from a remote directory) and some procedures or policies are necessary to ensure that librarian has the required control over the publication process, but both are fairly easily created for most versioning systems.

    One of the benefits of the qef system is that the construction scripts themselves, due to their simplicity and portability and run-time processing, rarely need modification by the developers to incorporate new constructions. If modifications are required, they will normally be platform independent thereby eliminating any need for extensive work by the system librarian to adapt to those platforms that the developer did not test.

    Adaptation of such a scheme is not necessary to take advantage of qef's benefits, but those organizations that have used such an approach do claim substantial rewards, albeit subjectively.

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