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Originally published 2 February 2006
We all have heroes. It is a part of growing up and deciding who you want to become. One of my heroes has always been Ed Yourdon. As a programmer, I knew there was more to the job than simply writing code. (This really is what we did in the past, since a well planned program was basically one with a flowchart.) I took a great deal of interest when reading about structured programming and design. I knew that Ed was leading the way out of the morass we were creating, and the basic concepts of structured analysis and design are as valid today as they were in the early 1960s.
In fact, Ed was so inspirational that I wrote a book—my own version of structured analysis and design. After writing more than 400 pages I realized that this book wasn’t very good and threw it away. From this experience, I realized the difficulties, discipline and experience required to be a writer. It was one of the best professional experiences of my life.
In terms of structured analysis and design, Ed has been an influential pioneer. He was the lead developer of the structured systems analysis and design methodology (SSADM) in the late 1970s. Essentially, SSADM is a systems approach to the analysis and design of information systems. This method involved many stages of documentation and design tasks which included:
While the design of SSADM has changed many times since its creation, this program truly paved the way for many of the data warehousing methods that we use today. In fact, SSADM uses a combination of logical data modeling, data flow modeling and entity behavior modeling. Each of these system models provides a different viewpoint of the same system, and each viewpoint is needed to form a complete model of the system being designed. There have been numerous instances where SSADM was used, most notably in the development of government information systems in the United Kingdom.
Figure 1: Simple diagram of SSADM
Ed also worked for and founded several consulting companies. In 1974 he founded YOURDON Incorporated, an international consulting, software development, publishing and training company. After YOURDON was acquired by DeVRY in 1986, Ed became Vice President of DeVRY. There, he was in charge of identifying and reporting on significant new technology trends that could provide business opportunities for DeVRY and its parent, Bell & Howell. In 1987 Ed founded NODRUOY, a computer consulting, publishing and research firm based in New York City. He continues to work as the CEO for NODRUOY today.
Ed graduated from MIT and has written a tremendous number of articles and books about structured programming and technology. Throughout his career, Ed has written more than 550 technical articles and (either authored or co-authored) 26 computer-related books. Some of his most influential books include OUTSOURCE: Competing in the Global Productivity Race, Death March, Byte Wars: The Impact of September 11 on Information Technology, Managing High-Intensity Internet Projects, Decline and Fall of the American Programmer, Object-Oriented Design, Modern Structured Analysis and Just Enough Structured Analysis. Obviously, Ed is a very accomplished technology writer.
Ed eventually inspired me to write my own articles. Soon after that, I started writing books. I had discovered a whole new career outside of my area of expertise. During this time, Ed continued to make advances with structured programming and analysis.
Figure 2: Ed Yourdon
One day I received a phone call from Ed, inviting me to a small conference for technology writers. I cannot tell you how thrilled I was! While people rarely get to meet their heroes, it actually happened to me. At the conference, there were also many other writers who had contributed to the movement to structured design. They included Steve McMenamin, Larry Constantine and Tom DeMarco.
Although I was not able to spend much time with Ed, I realized that he was just a very intelligent regular guy and that was quite a revelation to me.
After this conference, my career took off in data warehousing. Three books became twenty. Twenty books became forty. Similarly, fifty articles became one hundred. Then one hundred articles turned into a thousand. Clearly, I was coming into my own as a writer on data warehousing.
Soon, people began calling me. I decided that I would treat people the same way Ed treated me—as a regular, approachable peer.
While Ed is a personal hero of mine, I know many other people were also inspired by him too. According to the December 1999 issue of Crosstalk: The Journal of Defense Software Engineering, Ed was one of the ten most influential people in the software industry. In June 1997, he was inducted into the Computer Hall of Fame, along with various other notable pioneers that included Charles Babbage, Seymour Cray, James Martin, Grace Hopper, Gerald Weinberg and Bill Gates.
Ed is as much of an inspiration for me today as he was many years ago.
SOURCE: Ed Yourdon: A Hero of Mine
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