EURESCOM project P907 has defined a
methodology called MESSAGE (Methodology for Engineering systems of software agents) that
covers the analysis and design activities of the software engineering lifecycle. The main
project results are: guidelines on the applicability of the agent-oriented approach, the
MESSAGE methodology itself, and recommendations regarding software tools to support the
methodology. The methodology has been evaluated by applying it to case study problems, and
a prototype software tool has been developed to illustrate the tool recommendations.
This project report begins with a summary
of the project objectives and results, and then focuses on describing applicability
guidelines that help identify problems for which an agent based solution is appropriate.
It starts by introducing the field of software engineering in general, and agent oriented
software engineering more specifically. Software agents are then indirectly defined by
presenting a number of characteristics which software components must or may exhibit in
order to be called agents. A set of guidelines are then proposed to be used as criteria to
identify situations in which agent-based solutions should be considered. Finally, examples
of problems for which an agent approach is appropriate are presented.