ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Henning Femmer

As one of the co-founders, I work as a consultant at Qualicen GmbH. I especially try, not always successfully, to understand the dynamics and causalities in requirements quality. I studied software engineering in beautiful Munich, exciting Belfast (Northern Ireland), and amazing Maryland (USA).

Hear us speak at REConf 2018

Falls Ihr/Sie nächste Woche in München seid, kann man fast gar nicht über die REConf 2018 laufen ohne uns zu begegnen:

Keynote: “Vom Design Thinking zum Requirements Engineering: Vom Warum und Wieso zum Was und Wie”

Prof. Dr. h.c. Manfred Broy wird am Dienstag um 9 Uhr die Eröffnungs-Keynote zum Thema Design Thinking und RE halten:

Requirements Engineering ist vielleicht der wichtigste Teil der Software-Evolution. Falls es uns nicht gelingt, die Funktionalität, die der Endnutzer benötigt, korrekt zu spezifizieren, und falls es uns nicht gelingt, die geforderte Qualität korrekt zu identifizieren, besteht die Gefahr, dass ein System entwickelt wird, das nur teilweise oder vielleicht sogar völlig nutzlos ist.

Im Prinzip gibt es zwei wichtige Schritte im Prozess des Requirements Engineerings. Die größte Herausforderung ist, die benötigte Funktionalität zu finden. Das ist eine schwierige Aufgabe und Techniken wie Design Thinking können hier helfen. Design Thinking ist ganz darauf ausgerichtet, Lösungen für Probleme zu finden und diese durch die Konstruktion eines Prototyps konkret zu machen. Dies ist ein kreativer Prozess, um Ideen zu entwickeln, wie die richtige Funktionalität eines Softwaresystems ausschauen könnte. Jedoch, wenn ein Prototyp vorliegt, ist man noch weit entfernt davon, einen guten Satz von Anforderungen zu besitzen.

Deshalb ist es notwendig, eine Brücke zu finden von den Resultaten des Design Thinking-Prozesses zum Requirements Engineering, um alle Details einer Anforderungsspezifikation auszuarbeiten. Dieser Prozess ist beeinflusst von dem gewählten Entwicklungsmodell, wie etwa agiles oder konventionelles dokumentationsorientiertes Vorgehen. Design Thinking und Requirements Engineering ergänzen sich perfekt, um die kreative Identifikation der Funktionalität und der detaillierten Beschreibung der Funktionen, aber auch der Qualität von softwareintensiven Systemen sicher zu stellen.

Continue reading Hear us speak at REConf 2018

Moving in at GATE Garching (with Pictures!)

As most of you know, we moved to the GATE in Garching  (a university town, 20 minutes out of Munich) recently. So in oder to celebrate our new offices, I wanted to share a few pictures from these days with you.

We moved here in December. Engineers as we are, we loved all the assembling! And not too many things broke, actually 😉

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Updates from Qualicen

Hey there!

If you haven’t heard from us at Qualicen in while it, it is because we are fortunately(!) very busy right now. Lot’s of cool projects all over Germany and even up in Sweden. Contact us, if you would like to hear more about these projects or get in contact at one of the following venues.

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Activity-based Requirements Engineering Quality Meta Model. An artifacts has certain properties (quality factors), which have an impact onto activities, which are conducted by stakeholders.

Requirements quality is quality-in-use

I’ve worked quite some time on understanding and detecting quality defects in requirements documents and requirements quality in general. All the time, I was very dissatisfied with the current state in both research and practice on this topic. I think, the problem behind this is that there is no guidance: In times of rapid change and delivery, where every project looks different, we still have no good rule of what a good requirements document is.

A few years ago, we came up with such a rule, and tried it in various applications. And – so far – it seems to work! We’ve collected this experience and are now ready to tell you about it, because we really believe this should change how you view requirements engineering, and this should change what you consider good requirements documents.

Continue reading Requirements quality is quality-in-use

Phased Inspections

Efficiently control requirements quality: the best of two worlds

For high requirements quality we need quality assurance. In a previous post, I explained why automatic methods cannot replace manual methods. Instead I suggested to combine both worlds. And the ugly truth is, in both system testing and requirements engineering, we need both manual and automatic quality assurance to control requirements quality and test quality. Now you wonder, how? I got you covered. In this brief post, I want to point out how you can combine the two worlds and how you benefit from the combination.

Continue reading Efficiently control requirements quality: the best of two worlds

Which defects cannot be detected, taken from H. Femmer, D. Méndez Fernández, S. Wagner, and S. Eder, “Rapid quality assurance with Requirements Smells,” J. Syst. Softw., 2015.

The ugly truth about automatic methods for requirements engineering quality.

Ok, after I publish this blog post, I will probably get some angry calls from my sales department… Well, truth must be told.

There are many crazy defects in requirements, and, as I wrote in my last post, you can detect quite a bunch of them automatically (and you should do so!). When I present our automatic methods for natural language requirement smells or automatic methods for detecting defects in tests to our customers, I’m proud to say that they are usually very excited. Sometimes they are too excited and then this can turn into a problem.

What I mean is that I explain all the amazing things that you can detect with tools and suddenly people think that the tool will solve all the problems that they face. Spoiler alert: It doesn’t. And because we’re a company that is interested in happy customers, I want to briefly summarize all the problems (*that come into my mind) that a tool can’t solve. And because I don’t want to leave you in despair, I will also suggest some solutions, how I personally would suggest to work on that problem. Continue reading The ugly truth about automatic methods for requirements engineering quality.

Dependencies from displaCy

Which quality defects can you automatically detect in system tests and requirements?

I am a strong advertiser of modern, automatic methods to improve our day to day life. And so I really don’t want to check by hand whether my tests and requirements fit my template, or whether my sentences are readable. So quality assurance and defect detection, for example reviews or inspections, should use automation as far as possible.

BUT: When I speak to clients, sometimes people get so hooked up by the idea of automatic smell detection, that I need to slow them down. Therefore, this post tries to give a rough overview: What is possible to detect automatically?

The answer basically depends on two questions:

  1. How much syntax (or structure) do your artifacts and tests have?
  2. Which language do you use?

In this post I will refer to requirements artifacts here and there, but the answers are pretty much the same for both system tests and requirements.

Continue reading Which quality defects can you automatically detect in system tests and requirements?

Conditionals: Why you should avoid these two letters for better test case execution

At Qualicen, it’s often my job to check other people’s system test cases and tell the team what I think about these tests. So what do I look for? Well, in principle it is simple: After tests are written down, they are “only” executed and maintained. So this is where tests can be bad and I try to spot things that make execution and maintenance harder. For the maintenance, the largest problem here are clones, which we covered in our last blog post. For the test execution, the main problem that you want to avoid is that different testers test different things. This is called ambiguity and comes in many tastes. In this blog post, I want to explain what is structural ambiguity and why it is bad, and this way help you to create better test cases.

(Scroll to the summary, if you don’t care about the details) 😉

Ambiguous test flow

The problem for test execution that I want to discuss here, is an ambiguous test flow. This means, that for a single test case, there are multiple paths that a tester can follow when she executes the test. Let’s look at an example.

A simple, straight-forward natural language system test case.

A simple, straight-forward natural language system test case.

Continue reading Conditionals: Why you should avoid these two letters for better test case execution