Course Project

The goal of the course project is to provide you with hands-on software engineering experience, involving a team of 6-8 students. You will design and develop your product from the ground up in 10 weeks. The project is broken down into several milestones, listed on this page and on the course calendar.

In addition to submitting artifacts required for each milestone, you will also be required to submit a weekly status report every Tuesday by 11pm (except for March 31 and April 7).

You have a great deal of latitude in choosing your own toolset. Your team is ultimately responsible for choosing and learning these tools. That said, the staff wants to help you as much as possible, so if you are stuck, please ask us! However, be aware that we don't know every tool that you might choose. Your whole team should work together to choose, understand, and use your tools—just like in the real world. You should be, or become, comfortable with reading documentation that is sometimes incomplete or confusing, and with installing and using new software. These are skills that will stand you in good stead, no matter where your career takes you.

Weekly Status Reports

Weekly status reports help to keep the executives, the customers, and yourselves informed about your progress. The team status update must fit on a single page, and it must specify the contributions of individual team members.

Each status update should have three sections. Each section is typically about the size of a paragraph, but it can be organized as bullet points or in some other clear way.

You may find it helpful to read the more detailed instructions for writing a research status report from which the CSE 403 guidelines have been adapted.

Your team status report will be submitted using the course dropbox.

Software Tools

Integrated development hosting
We strongly recommend using a site that integrates the most important development tools: version control, issue tracking, and wiki. The wiki is a good place to host your development homepage. Examples include
Version control
We require that you use a distributed version control system, such as Mercurial or Git (recommended).
Web and database hosting
If you are developing a web application, you have a choice of hosting providers. Here are some of them, in the order of our recommendations.
  • Managed platforms (e.g. Google AppEngine, Heroku, Amazon EBS)
  • (Virtual) private servers (e.g., Amazon EC2, Linode, your own server)
  • Shared Unix hosting (e.g. cubist.cs, vergil.u).
    CSE's cubist server can host your team's website, database, etc. Please talk to the staff about your specific needs and we'll send them along to CSE support as required. Do this early because it can take a couple of days to set up.
Unix groups
The staff will create a Unix group (for file system permissions) per team on request. This is mostly necessary for those using shared Unix hosting on cubist.cs.
Mailing list
We require that your team has a mailing list with archives. All CSE 403 staff members must have permission to post to your list and to read its archives, but they should not receive email from your list. You can create a team mailing list, with archives, through Mailman/C&C, Google Groups, and similar services.
Additional choices and requirements

If you need additional resources (a mobile phone, Amazon Web Services credit, software installed on attu or cubist, etc.), please tell the staff as soon as possible. We will do our best to accommodate such requests, but cannot make any guarantees.

It is required that your team project can be installed, by a staff member, on a fresh CSE virtual machine image (or on other readily available resources such as attu, cubist, or Amazon Web Services). If you have written a mobile device app, it must run both on an emulator and on some mobile device, but it does not have to run on arbitrary mobile devices.

You may use any programming language you like. However, your project must obey professional standards of modularity and abstraction. Some languages make this very difficult to guarantee, and we strongly recommend against them.

More Tools


Here are tools you can use to draw UML diagrams.

Programming tools

The CSE lab machines have a full complement of development environments/tools, including most or all of the following.

C, C++, C#, Java, Python, PHP, Ruby(-on-rails), etc.
unit test frameworks
Java: JUnit, TestNG, JUnitEE
JavaScript: JsUnit
C# and .NET: NUnit, csUnit
C: CUnit
PHP: PHPUnit, SimpleTest; CakePHP incorporates its own unit testing primitives
Ruby: Test::Unit, RSpec, ZenTest
Python: PyUnit
other testing tools
Selenium for replay of user actions (e.g., clicks) in a browser
code coverage
NoUnit, EMMA, Cobertura, Hansel, etc.

If you use Microsoft Windows on your personal computer, Cygwin might be helpful in interoperating with software hosted on CSE Unix machines (such as version control repositories).