The house that Model-Based Design Builds

For the past year, I have followed a video blog called “primitive technology” in it the author takes you through, step-by-step, a process for first making tools, and then from those tools building structures. It is honestly fascinating; while watching him I see the antecedents of the tools that I have used.

However, it is counter to how I want to live my professional life as I wrote earlier about reuse versus building from scratch. Today I will expand on my video blog from Oct 20th and talk about tool selection and their application.

When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail

Working in the embedded design world the “house” that I build is most commonly the control algorithms which run everything from refrigerators to satellites. Within that framework, as a consultant for The MathWorks, I am frequently asked: “what should be code by hand and what should we do following an Model-Based Design process.” In answering this I fall back to a new saying, “pick the tool based on the fit in your hand and the fit for the task.”

Fit in the hand: The first time I picked up a nail gun it was heavy, awkward and I was prone to badly placing nails. However by the end of the day, having completed framing of three rooms, it fit in my hand as comfortably as the best framing hammer.

Fit for the task: As much as I loved my nail gun, the next day I was doing border trim and a new tool was required; I grabbed a trim hammer.

How to decide with Model-Based Design: The problem with analogies is nothing ever maps perfectly one-to-one. A model based development process is more than just a power tool that let’s you perform the same task more quickly. Rather it is a set of power tools that let you perform the same task and new tasks more easily and more dependably.

My breakdown falls along the line of algorithm verses the external interfaces. I would reference last week’s blog post.

Inside Model-Based Design: Control algorithms, interface to low level device drivers, function scheduling

Outside Model-Based Design: Low level hardware device drivers, operating systems

Assorted thoughts and comments:

1.) The image of the tool box with every tool in it’s place and highly organized requires discipline in your software processes. Remember it is the processes that keep the tools from looking like this…

2.) My experience of home building is limited to some time while at university volunteering for habit for humanity. Spend some time with them if you get a chance.

3.) The banner image of the nail gun also includes a level in the handle; I like to think of this much like the MathWorks products, e.g. even as we drive the nail we give you additional information.

4.) Sorry there was no juggling in the video.

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