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Design Rationale Systems: Understanding the Issues
May-June 1997 (vol. 12 no. 3)
pp. 78-85

Most current design rationale systems fail to consider practical concerns, such as cost-effective use and smooth integration. The author identifies seven technical and business issues and describes their implications.

In the last few years, interest in design rationales has grown. Design rationales are important tools because they can include not only the reasons behind a design decision but also the justification for it, the other alternatives considered, the tradeoffs evaluated, and the argumentation that led to the decision. The use of a design rationale system-a tool for capturing and making design rationales easily accessible-can thus improve dependency management, collaboration, reuse, maintenance, learning, and documentation. However, if such systems are to keep pace with the growing and changing demands of design technology, researchers and developers must begin to answer certain questions.

In this article I identify seven issues, which I have derived from an informal (undocumented) survey of major existing design rationale systems and discussions with workshop participants, including those in the 1992 AAAI Design Rationale Capture and Use Workshop. The issues identified include

? what services to provide; what parts of the rationale to represent explicitly;

? how to represent, produce, and access rationales and manage them cost effectively; and

? how to integrate the design rationale system.

My goal in writing this article is to help researchers and developers of future design rationale systems understand the available options and tradeoffs. No one system can hope to address all these issues. Some will emphasize one thing; others, another. Indeed, these issues delineate the major dimensions along which a design rationale system is likely to differ. But if the community can better understand each of these issues, it will be more equipped to produce design rationale systems that succeed in their particular application areas.

Citation:
Jintae Lee, "Design Rationale Systems: Understanding the Issues," IEEE Intelligent Systems, vol. 12, no. 3, pp. 78-85, May-June 1997, doi:10.1109/64.592267
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