ReConf 2015: A Retrospective

Demo of Axiom at the Formal Mind Booth at ReConf 2015Last week, ReConf 2015 took place in Munich – this conference is the biggest on requirements an Europe, and the place where the Who is Who of RE meets.  First impressions have already been posted.

Formal Mind was present in two capacities.  First, we an exhibitor, sharing a booth with our partner Orange Moon Systems.  Second, we had a talk at the science track, given by Michael Jastram.

Axiom Demos

A big topic was ReqIF-based requirements exchange, which we support with our product Axiom. Initiated by the ProSTEP ReqIF Implementor Forum, we organized regular demos of a life requirements exchange between Axiom and other tools via ReqIF. These demos created a lot of interest and discussion, as can be seen from the photo.

Axiom supports the intelligent exchange of requirements and supports a number of exchange scenarios.  It is available in our online store.

Science Track: Visualizing Requirements

Slides of the presentation >>

The talk “Visualizing requirements” demonstrated how a simple set of requirements could be converted into an interactive visualization, in less than one hour. We selected a lane change warning system as the case study.

Of course, textual requirements cannot be visualized directly.  Therefore, a model of the domain has to be created first, and this model is then connected to a visualization.  But once this is done, the domain model and visualization do not have to be changed again (unless the domain changes, of course).

The actual functionality can then be defined using refinement, and the visualization will reflect this functionality.  Traceability allows the connection of functional requirements to the corresponding model elements.

The following figure shows the visualization in action.   The controls on the left allow users to change the system state, and the visualization in the middle reflects this. The views on the right show the system state and history, which can be of interest in debugging invalid system states and other issues.

Other Impressions

This was the second time of the ReConf in the new location, Dolce Munich, and the organization was much better than the year before. Out of the four keynotes, the ones by Udo Wiegärtner and Ellen Gottesdiener were outstanding.  The other two did not convince me: Ralph Young did not manage to engage, and while Niels Pfläging was engaging, the content was not convincing.

ReqIF was quite visible with exhibitors, pretty much all commercial tools offer a solution to import or export data via ReqIF.  Unfortunately, there was only one talk mentioning ReqIF, and this was only in the context of yet another ReqIF adapter for a commercial tool.  The last few years, ProStep used to have a talk, reporting on the activities of the Implementor Forum, but not this year.  On the positive side, this indicates that ReqIF is nothing special any more, but a commodity feature that is taken for granted.

Last, I was surprised that agile is still such a hot topic.  I am surprised, because successful projects have always been managed in an agile manner, even 50 years ago – even if  the term had not been used back then.  We at Formal Mind always embraced agile approaches, even for large-scale safety-critical projects.