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Introduction to Python Programming – Flowcharts
A flowchart is a graphical or symbolic representation of a process. Each step in the process is represented by a different symbol and contains a short description of the process step. The flowchart symbols are linked together with arrows showing the flow of the process.
- A flowchart is basically a plan to be followed when the program is being written. It acts as a road map for a programmer and guides him on how to go about it from the starting point to the final point while writing the computer program.
For a beginner, it is strongly recommended that the flowchart must be drawn first before writing the program to reduce errors and omissions. Moreover, the flowchart is helpful in testing and modifying the program.
Guidelines for Drawing a Flowchart
(a) There should be only one entry/starting point and one exit point of the flowchart.
(b) Use the correct symbol at each stage in the flowchart.
(c) The logical flow should clearly be shown using arrows.
(d) Use connectors to reduce the number of flow lines.
(e) Lines should ideally be vertical or horizontal.
A cross-functional flowchart, also known as a deployment flowchart, is a business process mapping tool.
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1) First, think of the mainline of logic, and then incorporate details.
2) Do not give every detail on the flowchart. A reader who is interested in greater details can refer to the program itself.
3) Statements in the flowchart symbols should be precise and easy to understand.
4) Be consistent in using names and variables in the flowchart. Use descriptive variable names.
5) go from left to right and top-to-bottom while constructing flowcharts.
6) Keep the flowchart simple. The crossing of flow lines should be avoided.
7) If a new flowcharting page is needed, it is recommended that the flowchart is broken at an input or output point. Moreover, properly labeled connectors should be used to link the portions of the flowchart on different pages.
Advantages of using Flowcharts Convey Better Meaning
Since a flowchart is a pictorial representation of the solution of a problem, it is easier for a programmer to understand the logic of the program.
Effective Joining of Parts of a System
A number of programmers are normally associated with the design of a software package. Each programmer is responsible for designing only a part of the entire system. So initially, if each programmer draws a flowchart for his part of the design, the flowcharts of all the programmers can be placed together to visualize the overall system design. Any problem in linking the various parts of the system can easily be detected at this stage, and the design can be modified accordingly.
- Flowcharts can thus be used as working models in the design of new programs and software systems
Once a flowchart is correctly drawn, programmers find it very easy to write the concerned program because the flowchart acts as a roadmap for them. It guides them on how to go-ahead from the starting I point of the program to the final point ensuring that no steps are omitted. The ultimate result is an error-free program developed at a faster rate.
Even after taking full care in a program design, some errors may remain in the program because the designer might never have thought about a particular case. These errors are detected only when you start executing the program on a computer. Such types of program errors are called bugs, and the process of removing these errors is known as debugging. A flowchart is very helpful in detecting, locating, and removing mistakes (bugs) in a program in a systematic manner.
Testing is the process of confirming if a program will successfully do all the jobs for which it has been designed under the specified constraints. For testing a program, different varieties of data are fed as input to that program to test all the paths in the program logic.
Limitations of Flowcharts
Takes More Time to Draw
Flowcharts are very time-consuming and laborious to draw with proper symbols and spacing, especially for large and complex systems.
Difficult to Make Changes
Any changes or modifications in the program logic will usually require a completely new flowchart. Redrawing a flowchart is a tedious job, and many companies either do not change it or produce the flowchart by using a computer program to draw it.
There are no standards determining the number of details that should be included in a flowchart.