By Greg M. Perry
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Anything that the program produces and the user sees is considered output that you must define. You must know what every screen in the program should look like and what will be on every page of every report, invoice, and paycheck generated by programs. The output definition is more than a preliminary output design. It gives you insight into what data elements the program should track, compute, and produce. Defining the output also helps you gather all the input you need to produce the output. The output definition consists of many pages of details.
This might be the first page of the payroll program’s top-down design. Any payroll program has to include some mechanism for entering, deleting, and changing employee information such as address, city, state, ZIP Code, number of exemptions, and so on. What other details about the employees do you need? At this point, don’t ask. The design is not ready for all those details. 4 Perform the payroll The first page of the payroll program’s topdown design. Track employee information Calculate payroll amounts Add Change Delete employees employees employees Government reports Taxes State Federal Print reports Company reports Paychecks Payroll FICA There is a long way to go before you finish with the design.
Programs written 10 years ago are not up to today’s practices. They were written on computers much slower and more limited than today’s machines. As hardware advances are made, the software must advance with it. Programs As Directions Your computer is a blind and dumb machine waiting for you to give it instructions. When you do, it follows the instructions without second-guessing them. If you tell it to do something incorrectly, it does its best to do so. To repeat, a program is a list of detailed instructions that the computer carries out.