The Diagram of Flow: Its Departure from Software Engineering and Its Return

  • S. J. Morris
  • O. C. Z. Gotel
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 7352)


The first diagrammatic notation used in software engineering represented the concept of flow. This paper considers the factors that affected the apparent departure of the flowchart from software engineering practice during the 1970s and 1980s and its subsequent return in the 1990s. A new emphasis on hierarchy (as level of abstraction) and on data structure meant that the general concept of flow was completely superseded, only to re-emerge later as a new duality of control flow and data flow. This reappearance took a variety of forms with varying semantics until its stabilisation in the latest version of the Unified Modeling Language. Flow is there re-instated as a fundamental concept in software engineering although its importance, and that of the activity diagram used to represent it, diminished as a consequence of its becoming just one among a wider set of paradigms for software systems development, each associated with its own diagrams.


Activity Diagram Diagrammatic Notation Flowchart History Representation Software Engineering 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. J. Morris
    • 1
  • O. C. Z. Gotel
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of ComputingCity University LondonUK
  2. 2.Independent ResearcherNew YorkUSA

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