Software/Hardware

Xilinix

Contact:

Embarcadero Technologies, Inc.
425 Market Street, Suite 425
San Francisco, CA  94105
www.embarcadero.com

Tools used:

Embarcadero’s Describe.

Description:

Xilinx, Inc. designs, develops and markets complete programmable logic solutions, including advanced integrated circuits, software design tools, predefined system functions delivered as cores of logic and field engineering support. The Company's programmable logic devices (PLDs) include field programmable gate arrays and complex programmable logic devices, which are standard products that customers program to perform desired logic functions in the telecommunications, networking, computing, industrial and consumer markets.

Problem:

Like many companies today, Xilinx, a provider of programmable logic solutions, faced the challenge of finding a tool that provided a clear development framework and helped its geographically diverse team work most efficiently. The company selected Embarcadero Technologies' Describe to provide a UML modeling solution and clear development blueprint for its new object-oriented, next-generation Device Configuration Tool.

Neil Jacobson, software development manager at Xilinx, knew that the development of a complex object-oriented application by a team of geographically diverse developers was going to be a challenge, and he needed help. “I really wanted an easy-to-use tool that could provide a common language and documentation format for the developers to use when discussing the project. That protocol would force them to stop and think seriously about the design before beginning development,” he said.

Solution:

Describe satisfied Jacobson and his team for several reasons. “Describe is easy-to-use, so we knew we could get the developers to adopt it more readily than other alternatives. Describe's flexibility allows us to keep control of our development process. That means we can change and update our processes as we see fit, not because a tool forces us to do so. We can also print hassle-free on our plotters, without having to develop a custom printing solution,” Jacobson said.

“Plus, the product is cost-effective, which enables us to spend our resources on development talent rather than on expensive tools,” he added.

Jacobson found three Describe features to be particularly valuable. Round-trip engineering enables his team to generate a code template for the classes that make up the system. During development, changes implemented in the code can then be easily folded back into the design document.

Second, since application development is done on UNIX and Windows, each developer has a particular preference for his or her development environment. Describe's cross-platform support allows the design to be visible and modifiable on both platforms at all times.

Third, since the team is working on a single, large design, having a single database accessible by many in a controlled manner is important. Describe's multiple client-server configuration allows all models and code to be stored on a central server, and accessed via a company LAN.

Jacobson and his team also attended the Describe training seminar, and found it “quite beneficial and informative. It served as an excellent introduction to both OOAD and Describe. In addition, the trainer has continued to be available to answer questions as they have arisen, which has been a huge timesaver,” Jacobson said.

“Describe has really helped us properly design and document our application,” said Jacobson. Although the project is not yet complete, Jacobson would estimate that, at this point, doing formal OOAD assisted by Describe has shortened implementation time by approximately two months. He also expects that the time required for new developers to understand the design and get up to speed will be greatly reduced. “I look forward to adding a new developer to our team so we can appreciate that even more,” he concluded.