Decompose Systems

One single AFFI-Chart is probably not enough when developing a complex system. Though functions can be arranged as a tree, it is not recommended to create one AFFI-Chart that goes too deep into the functional details, rather one should create sub-specs that explain actors, features and integrations for the subsystems as well, not only the sub-functions.

Each sub-spec will be represented by a separate file, which makes it also very manageable in source code management systems such as Subversion.

System Composer provides great tools for the decomposition. You have a tool called “explorer”, which allows the inspection of the deep functional tree and very easy navigation between all the specs. And you can easily create a sub-spec for a function. You don't have to initially think about when to split the system, you can move a function with all it's contents to a sub-spec or re-merge the sub-spec contents into the main spec.

So let's dive into the program.

We use the specification for Purple Box:

The toolbar contains the explorer button, which opens the function tree of all sub-specifications.

We can navigate between all the sub-specs very easily.

Let's see how we can create such a structure.

A sub-spec is simply a linked file. Linked files can be anything such as images or spreadsheets, but if the linked file is a System Composer file, it can be inspected in the explorer:

To make the linking more simple, you can move a function to a sub-spec, where you can specify a file, which is saved and linked automatically. For existing links you can move the sub-function into the sub-spec or move the functions to the parent spec:

This technique scales up to large systems. It forces a very structured decomposition, which would maybe not achieved when simply programming tools are used.

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