Why Modeling Requirements is Better than the Alternative

Requirements are usually captured in natural language. This is fine for small project and no special training is needed to read the requirements. But there are advantages to modeling requirements.

Before we discuss why modeling requirements is a good idea, we need to figure out and understand a number of things. Therefore, this is the beginning of a mini series, which will be published over the next months, with a new article every two weeks. This will be covered:

Requirements Modeling Mini-Series

  • What is modeling? This is an important question, and there are many misunderstandings. For instance, models are not necessarily graphical; providing the right attributes is already modeling; No sophisticated tools are required for modeling.
  • What are the pro and cons to requirements modeling? We are advocates of requirements modeling (we created the Eclipse Requirements Modeling Framework, after all)
  • Specific requirements modeling approaches: This will be split into a number of articles that look at concrete modeling approaches. This will include lightweight, text-based approaches, but also UML and more sophisticated approaches.
  • Helping to decide: The series will conclude with hands-on advice on how to pick the right requirements modeling approach for your situation.

Hands-on Advice

This will not be an academic abstract, but a hands-on guideline on improving your requirements through modeling. This means two things: First, there will be a strong focus on getting to requirements modeling in small steps. For instance, in an organization that has never heard of UML before and where requirements are written in Word, introducing a requirements classification could be an useful, evolutionary approach. If UML is already in use, on the other hand, then introducing OCL and model checking could be a way for boosting efficiency.

Templates – Key for Acceptance

We said it before: Most models have many more readers than writers. Therefore, requirements modeling must ensure that the readers are not left out. Once the models are not written in plain text any more, a lot of thought has to be given to the templates that are used for document generation. This may make the difference between success and failure.

Stay tuned

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