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A Computer-Aided Software Engineering (CASE) software product contains a series of development tools that help to automate the design and implementation of computer systems. CASE products automate and integrate modeling tools, and also provide a central repository of all data within an organization.

Some CASE products (known as Lower-CASE) provide only for inputs into a data repository. These inputs typically consist of object-oriented classes and objects, as well as the following analysis tools: data flow diagrams; entity-relationship diagrams; state transition diagrams; and process specifications.

Other CASE products (known as Code Generators) do not provide analysis tools, but instead contain only a data repository to create outputs that can be used by other products (e.g. database products like Oracle or Sybase). Code Generators generally contain the following features: schema generation; product code generation; prototypes; and documentation and reports.

Some CASE products can do both input analysis and output generation; these are known as I-CASE or Integrated CASE. A prominent I-CASE tool is Popkin System Architect.

Back in the olden days (circa 1980s), implementations of CASE were often not successful. Organizations and analysts did not really know how to use the tools. Moreover, since at that time CASE products were text based, they did could not work well with graphical-based tools like data flow diagrams. At the same time, there was little agreement in the analyst community regarding different analytical methodologies, and CASE products typically supported only one methodology which might not conform to organizational culture. Finally, the CASE tools did not integrate well with other products.

Since today CASE tools use graphical interfaces, support multiple methodologies, and integrate well with other products, they are becoming more popular. And as organizations increasingly adopt open systems and client/server architectures the use of CASE tools is becoming more necessary. The future of CASE tools, however, probably depends most on whether analysts receive proper training on how to use them.

Primary Source: Analysis and Design of Information Systems by Arthur Langer (2001)

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