How to Understand Almost Anything

How to Understand Almost Anything

A Practitioner's Guide to Domain Analysis

About the Book

Domain analysis is about understanding a body of knowledge, the subject matter of a domain. You want to understand the concepts, vocabulary, rules and constraints that govern the domain. Ultimately, the goal is to define a set of abstractions and their relationships, a formal model, a “language” that can be used to completely and unambiguously describe the subject matter in the domain.

This book explains how to do this. It is targeted to analysts and participants of a domain analysis. At the core of the book are three sections that cover the three aspects of domain analysis: collecting, thinking and validating. Next there’s a chapter about recurring ideas and concepts when defining abstractions. You can use those as reminders — or a checklist — of what to consider when designing your abstractions. The last chapter of the book zooms out beyond the core domain analysis activities and discusses a few related issues such as agility, business strategy and process change. It also has a section with a few tips on writing.

This is not a scientific book. I am not citing 250 other people who analyse domains. It’s my own approach. So what I write in this book is not the one and only way to approach a domain analysis, but it is one that has worked in several projects of various sizes. Also, this is not a modelling book. While I do cover some conceptual issues of how to create “good” abstractions, this book has no specific modelling technology in it. Check out my previous books if you are interested.

So this is certainly my least technical book so far, it contains a lot of ”people and process stuff”. It’s a reflection of how my role has expanded from language implementation and tool building into finding out how a domain should be represented. With less than three hours of reading time, this is also my shortest book to date. Together with the very informal style, the book is an easy read on a long train ride or over an weekend.

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    • Business Analysis
    • Innovation Management
    • Software Engineering
    • Business and IT Alignment
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About the Author

Markus Voelter
Markus Voelter

Markus helps organisations uncover, understand and operationalize the knowledge at the core of their business, building a common foundation between business and IT. He designs and implements languages to capture and validate this knowledge, and to make it executable on modern IT platforms. 

As a language engineer, he analyses domains; designs user-friendly languages and supporting analyses; implements language tools and IDEs; and architects efficient and reliable backends based on interpreters and generators. He also works on formalisms and meta-tools for language engineering. 

For 20 years, Markus has consulted, coached and developed in a wide range of industries, including finance, automotive, health, science and IT. He has published numerous papers in peer-reviewed conferences and journals, has written several books on the subject and spoken at many industry conferences world-wide. 

Markus holds a diploma in physical engineering from FH Ravensburg-Weingarten and a PhD in computer science from TU Delft.

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