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Web-based Information systems


Section 2 - Web-based Information System Development Life Cycle

There are currently several proposed development life cycles for Web-based information systems. WIS development has been regarded as a process,12 and, as such, it is possible to divide this process into various phases in order to introduce control and minimize risks. Some of the current models of a Web-based information system development life cycle are: Ginige's WIS development process13, Pressman's framework of activities for Web applications14, Takahashi's and Liang's flow of analysis and design for Web-based information systems15, and Fraternali's Life cycle of a Web Application16.

All four models have a similar basic framework, including an analysis phase, a design phase, a Web site construction phase, and a maintenance phase. In order to address the evolutionary nature of Web-based information systems and to ensure the generation of complete requirements specifications, all of the above frameworks include some form of iterative approaches. Ginige suggests using the Spiral Development Process, Fraternali advocates Prototyping, Takashi and Liang propose an iterative process between scenario analysis and architecture design, and Pressman warns that his framework's "activities are applied iteratively as a Web-based system evolves."17 However, the choice of a methodology also depends on the complexity and size of a Web-based system, as well as on the types of Web applications being considered. For example, Ginige advocates the Waterfall model for simple Web sites that do not require an iterative approach.

Current available development methodologies for Web-based information systems have focused on the design and implementation stages of the WIS development life cycle. This is mainly due to the fast environment within which Web-based information systems have grown and in which organizations have struggled to keep ahead of technological changes to maintain their competitive advantage. Among the methodologies proposed and modified for WISs development, hypermedia methodologies have been the most prevalent.

"The first proposal has been HDM [Hypertext Design Model], based on a semantic model of information in the application and the study of navigational patterns. HDM has been developed in subsequent approaches, e.g. OOHDM [Object-Oriented HDM], based on an object-oriented approach to multimedia applications design and RMM [Relationship Management Methodology] starting from entity relationship schemas in the first design phases."18

However, these methodologies are database-centric and are best suited for highly structured systems. Recent developments have included user-centered methodologies such as W3DT [World Wide Web Design Technique] - which was developed "to support the requirements of unstructured, hierarchical WIS and to visualize them from a recipient's perspective"19 - and its extension - which was developed to reference modeling of commercial WIS - eW3DT [Extended World Wide Web Design Technique]. However, when developing complex Web applications, Scharl recommends integrating "the user-centric eW3DT with technical, more database-centric data models like RMDM, HDM, OOHDM, or any of the other approaches based on entity relations."20

Independent from the methodologies used during the development of a Web-based information system, although the overall development process of a Web-based information system may seem similar to that of a traditional information system, there are significant differences in the elements that need to be taken into consideration during the requirements analysis stage of a WIS development life cycle.

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