Artifacts? What does it really mean?

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I read a book recently on Design patterns: I came across the word Artifacts in each pages many times! What are they actually? Where it should be used?

In UP, artifacts are really important and they play a major role in Object Oriented Analysis . . . .


The term 'artifact' seemed to be popularized around the time the 3 amigos described the Rational Unified Process.

Artifact in software engineering was a generic term to refer to any 'deliverable' which could be produced by any 'role' in the software development lifecycle - anything from a Project Plan, to an ERD, a test Plan, or a source code file etc etc etc. Artifacts could be brought into Software Configuration Management (identified, versioned, change could be managed, etc).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artifact_(software_development)

The term artifact also crops up in business process modelling, usually referring to a physical or electronic document produced by a process, e.g. a claim form, an EDI document, or a report output.

You will likely hear the term a lot around expensive consultants, but you might want to use more specific terminology at the coal face of software development :)