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application for writing requirements documents


Using Word for writing and updating a large (400-page) requirements document is a headache. When several people put in their comments, you can hardly read the document because of all the tracked changes, and each comment brings in another style. And it takes hours to open or edit the document.

Is there some friendlier application around? I'm not talking about something that's just another DTP application -- more like an application that has structure and won't let the writer / reviewer just enter reams of free text. And somehow lets you view comments without tearing your hair out.

Any ideas?


ben Send private email
Monday, June 30, 2008
How structured are you thinking about?  Like an Office document field?
Monday, June 30, 2008
400 pages of requirements?

Couldn't you simply split them into several documents?

Wouldnt it be unmanagable regardless of what tool is used due to its size?

Oh, and the changes and stuff, you can actually remove them. If you wanted to.
Marck Send private email
Monday, June 30, 2008
I have similar problem. Word doesn't allow me to automatically create "smart" references between requirements and it's really difficult to maintain the documents (i.e. verify dependencies)

For a single system I maintain several 200-300 pages word documents with cross-references.

it's really more like a functional specification.
Maurycy Widera Send private email
Monday, June 30, 2008
> I have similar problem.

Me too.

I'm developing a solution for this, which will have the functionality you're asking for: i.e., structure, comments, revisions, cross-references, traceability, quick (suitable for multi-hundred-section 'documents'), and supporting import from Word documents; but I doubt I'll begin to offer it until 2009.

There are several existing solutions, which I haven't test-driven; they seem to be either unstructured (i.e., flat), or, expensive. Send me an email, if you'd like me to send you my list of the 40 or so requirements management applications that I've found on the internet.

Apart from Word documents, I suspect that some people might use Wikis (the problem with Wikis being, I presume, the lack of structure).
Christopher Wells Send private email
Monday, June 30, 2008
I am in the process of writing technical/functional requirements - I googled different options, but at last I decided to roll my own with Word. I use Visio diagrams where needed, and a standard Excel copy paste for tabular information. Outside of that, I use a very simple structure and add appendices for external documents. I put them in a format that I can paste into the document, often a sample is needed only.

Our business analysist prefers to use cross-functional templates in Visio, 14x17. I find this very awkward to manipulate at times.

I prefer standard 8 1/2 x 11 - as most people can print this, and it displays reasonably, and _most_ people have Word.

As much as there is pain involved in using Word, and tracking changes - it works better than other options I have seen.

I'd like to hear of some other great options - but until then, I'll stick with this format.
Jason T
Monday, June 30, 2008
Best thing I've ever used is Requisite Pro, which allows you to create a database of requirements that are linked back to the original Word docs.

Not cheap, and a bit of a learning curve, but very handy.
Monday, June 30, 2008
I wrote a manual about 20 years ago using MS Publisher.

Worked well then and I think it does what you want.
glen harvy Send private email
Monday, June 30, 2008
Those green double underlines in ReqPro drive me nuts.  I end up printing out my requirements just so I am able to read them.

But otherwise, it does a decent enough job of traceability.

If you plan on integrating it with ClearCase/ClearQuest, make sure the specific versions of each product will work together -- talk to your Rational support guy to be sure (I've seen applying a patch break the integration).
Monday, June 30, 2008
This seems to be a niche, waiting for a uISV to jump into..
Eddy Vluggen Send private email
Tuesday, July 01, 2008
You've hit one of my top 3 software developer nightmares:

1. Lotus Notes
2. Visual SourceSafe
3. Microsoft Word documents with track changes enabled

People insist now and again to make me go through these nightmares, although nightmares are unpleasant and sometimes scary.

Don't keep evolving requirements in a 400-page Word document with change tracking enabled. Don't do it. That's for a start. Later, we can talk about alternatives. But first, stop doing that.
Daniel_DL Send private email
Tuesday, July 01, 2008
> This seems to be a niche, waiting for a uISV to jump into..

I think so, obviously.

Although, as I said, there are 40+ applications already, including vendors like Compuware, IBM, and Borland, not to mention Microsoft; and, Open Source offerings too.

I haven't found an application that has all of the functionality I could want, trivial to install, easy to learn, a pleasure to use, is inexpensive, enables structure without imposing a specific structure on the Project Manager, helps the Project Manager to define a structure for the authors, supports collaboration, supports defining and working with requirements, supports managing the consequent development project, and doesn't create silos.

Developing this is, in many ways, an ideal project.

I've been working on it, for a couple of years. I have my requirements, functional spec and other text, and I have finished the architecture, and finished enough of the components that I have the first several 'vertical slices' of the functionality ... now, I'm 'building out'.

It's taken a while to develop the basic functionality (because I'm not incorporating any complete but imperfect, 3rd-party components). Now, I'm looking forward to implementing many of the actual features over the next months.

I wonder if it would be true, to say to say that the lack of an obvious tool has influenced the practice of software development: resulting in monolithic, waterfall-style processes at one extreme, and throw-away or non-existent documentation at the other.
Christopher Wells Send private email
Tuesday, July 01, 2008
How about a versioning wiki with a wiki->pdf engine?
Katie Lucas
Wednesday, July 02, 2008

If you are interested in a structured requirements solution then please check out EdgeRM at (disclaimer here: this is my company).  It provides specific fields for data entry using forms that are completely customizable, placing all your team's requirements in one central database.  The product is built for ease of use and flexibility and is reasonably priced vs. other solutions.  Unlike other project management solutions this is geared specifically for Requirements Management. If there are any features that you feel are missing for your specific needs please let me know and we will make sure to get them in there.

Andre Oporto Send private email
Wednesday, July 02, 2008
Open Source Requirements Management Tool:
Thursday, July 03, 2008

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