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Specifications

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A functional specification is the set of documentation that describes the requested behavior of an engineering system. The documentation typically describes what is needed by the system user as well as requested properties of inputs and outputs.

 

1.
#23984

Bridging the Gap with Requirements Definition

Developing a new product or service is tricky. When everything goes well, the product can redefine a market or even create an entirely new one, to the benefit of its manufacturer and its consumers. When the product doesn't click with its audience, though, the costs—development, employee, manufacturing—can be staggering. How do you ensure that your new product doesn't flop? One effective method is to conduct a requirements definition phase before developing a new product.

Olshavsky, Ryan. Cooper Interaction Design (2002). Articles>Usability>Specifications

2.
#37255

Business Requirements Documents vs. Functional Software Requirements

To determine what goes into the BRD and what goes into an SRS, the best place to start is by thinking in terms of who uses the BRD vs. the SRS and what decisions do they need to make from it. If you think of a typical process model, executives must be presented with information following each phase to determine if the project should continue. Based on the information gathered in each phase, the team presents a summary to the executive who decides whether to proceed.

Chen, Anthony. Seilevel (2010). Articles>Business Communication>Requirements>Functional Specifications

3.
#27764

Common Mistakes: Functional Specification for Web Development

What are pitfalls that companies should avoid when specifying Web applications for internal or external development?

Buerki, Nicolas. E-Consultancy (2004). Articles>Writing>Specifications>Functional Specifications

4.
#29762

Creating a User Experience Specification  (link broken)   (PDF)

Creating any system of sufficient complexity requires a diverse team and a dizzying amount of documentation. While these documents do a great job of conveying components of the system, they do not provide an integrated view. This is because each covers different aspects of the system, written by a different author for a different audience. This paper proposes that project teams should create a user experience specification, a document that shows what the system looks like, how it behaves, and how it works. This specification needs to describe the system for all team members, at a useful level of detail, in a form that encourages team members to read it and inviting enough to get them to participate in the design, as well as allow developers to build from.

Oye, Phil and John Payne. STC Proceedings (2004). Design>User Experience>Specifications

5.
#19648

Functional Spec Tutorial: What and Why

Functional specifications (functional specs), in the end, are the blueprint for how you want a particular web project or application to look and work. It details what the finished product will do, how a user will interact with it, and what it will look like. By creating a blueprint of the product first, time and productivity are saved during the development stage because the programmers can program instead of also working out the logic of the user-experience. It will also enable you to manage the expectations of your clients or management, as they will know exactly what to expect.

Mojofat. Articles>Writing>Specifications>Technical Writing

6.
#27757

Functional Specification  (link broken)

A functional specification (or sometimes functional specifications) is a formal document used to describe in detail for software developers a product's intended capabilities, appearance, and interactions with users. The functional specification is a kind of guideline and continuing reference point as the developers write the programming code. (At least one major product development group used a "Write the manual first" approach. Before the product existed, they wrote the user's guide for a word processing system, then declared that the user's guide was the functional specification. The developers were challenged to create a product that matched what the user's guide described.) Typically, the functional specification for an application program with a series of interactive windows and dialogs with a user would show the visual appearance of the user interface and describe each of the possible user input actions and the program response actions. A functional specification may also contain formal descriptions of user tasks, dependencies on other products, and usability criteria. Many companies have a guide for developers that describes what topics any product's functional specification should contain.

Whatis.com. Articles>Writing>Specifications>Functional Specifications

7.
#27760

Functional Specification and Review  (link broken)

The Functional Specification is created after the Software Requirements Document. It provides more detail on selected items originally described in the Software Requirements Document. Some software development organizations combine these two documents into a single document.

Electric Power Research Institute. Articles>Writing>Specifications>Functional Specifications

8.
#27761

Functional Specification Standard   (Word)

In general terms, the functional specification states what the proposed system is to do, whereas design is how the system is to be constructed to meet the functional specification. However in writing it, some consideration of design issues must take place, to ensure a realistic system is specified.

Software Reality. Articles>Writing>Specifications>Functional Specifications

9.
#27763
10.
#27758

Functional Specifications Subvert the Hierarchy of Nature

When you use a spec, you give your trust and authority to a piece of paper rather than the people on your team. You codify laws. You strip your 'judges' of the ability to act on intuitive feelings. There’s no fluidity. There’s no ability to respond, change, and evolve.

Fried, Jason. Signal vs. Noise. Articles>Collaboration>Specifications

11.
#27759

Getting Real, Step 1: No Functional Spec

Don't write a functional specifications document. Why? Well, there's nothing functional about a functional specifications document.

Fried, Jason. Signal vs. Noise (2005). Articles>Writing>Specifications>Functional Specifications

12.
#27575

Goal Oriented Requirements

Your requirements document needs to focus on the user’s goals. They should not be marketing’s list of features 'we’ve got to have' because the competition has these features. They should not be a list of things the programmers think ought to be included 'because we can add those things for very little cost.' Feature bloat does not benefit the user.

Ferlazzo, Ellen Lawson. Sprezzatura Systems (2002). Articles>User Centered Design>Specifications>Software

13.
#20234

How to Read (W3C Specs)

Although they appear maddeningly incomprehensible at first, W3C specifications are actually great sources of information, once you understand their secrets. Learn how to read the specs.

Eisenberg, J. David. List Apart, A (2001). Design>Web Design>Standards>Specifications

14.
#14709

Identifying Web Site Requirements   (PDF)

The authors emphasize the importance of conducting thorough research on business goals, branding goals, user needs, and technical resources before Web designers undertake a redesign. The article also offers suggestions about how to define, develop, and communicate a client's brand.

Summers, Kathryn and Michael Summers. Intercom (2001). Articles>Usability>Specifications

15.
#27247

Inspecting Requirements

Errors in requirements specifications translate into poor designs, code that does the wrong thing, and unhappy customers. Requirements documentation should be inspected early and often. Anything you can do to prevent requirements errors from propagating downstream will save you time and money. Karl Wiegers shows you how.

Wiegers, Karl E. StickyMinds (2004). Articles>Documentation>Engineering>Specifications

16.
#34277

Introduction to Requirements: The Critical Details That Make or Break a Project   (members only)

Every project has requirements. It doesn't matter if it's building hardware solutions, developing software solutions, installing networks, protecting data, or training users. For the project to be a success, knowing what the requirements are is an absolute must. Requirements exist for virtually any components of a project or task. For example, a project may require specific methods, expertise levels of personnel, or the format of deliverables. This whitepaper will discuss the various kinds of information technology requirements, their importance, the different requirement types, the concept of requirements engineering, and the process for gathering requirements.

Frederick, Richard. Global Knowledge (2007). Articles>Project Management>Business Communication>Specifications

17.
#27755

On Writing

Whatever your role in a project, insist on getting the spec right before the code is written. The spec'ing process may take several iterations, so plan accordingly.

Shetty, Ashish. Blogspot. Articles>Writing>Specifications

18.
#27446

Painless Functional Specifications - Part 1: Why Bother?

Why won't people write specs? People claim that it's because they're saving time by skipping the spec-writing phase. They act as if spec-writing was a luxury reserved for NASA space shuttle engineers, or people who work for giant, established insurance companies. Balderdash.

Spolsky, Joel. Joel on Software (2000). Articles>Writing>Specifications>Software

19.
#27756

Painless Functional Specifications - Part 2: What's a Spec?

When you design a product, inside and out, the most important thing is to nail down the user experience. What are the screens, how do they work, what do they do. Later, you worry about how to get from here to there. There's no use arguing about what programming language to use before you've decided what your product is going to do. In this series, I'm only talking about functional specifications.

Spolsky, Joel. Joel on Software (2000). Articles>Writing>Specifications>Functional Specifications

20.
#38445

Requirements Gathering and Analysis: Functional Requirements

Functional requirements detail the behavior of the intended system. This is from the workflow to the end-user interface. You want to ensure that each functional requirement that you capture is just that.

Polastre, Shevonne. Chicwriter (2010). Articles>Documentation>Requirements>Functional Specifications

21.
#38446

Requirements Gathering and Analysis: Non-Functional Requirements

Non-functional requirements are the requirements that stakeholders and users haven’t thought of, but you have to because without them, the system will fail. If you don’t collect non-functional requirements, then you will not be creating a system that behaves in the way the users need it to.

Polastre, Shevonne. Chicwriter (2010). Articles>Documentation>Requirements>Functional Specifications

22.
#27577

Requirements vs. Solutions

Your requirements will assist you in delivering a software solution that meets your users' needs. You can find all sorts of templates and formal processes for requirements of various kinds, and while they are useful, the biggest problem I've found is that most people confuse defining the need with proposing a solution. As soon as a requirements document contains any part of 'how we're solving this', you've crossed the line into presupposing that you already know what the problem is and can stop listening.

Ferlazzo, Ellen Lawson. Sprezzatura Systems (2002). Careers>Consulting>Specifications

23.
#24318

Seeing the World Through Different Specs: Or, How I Came to Love Writing Software Specifications   (PDF)

Much has been said and written about Object-Oriented Programming in the past few years, some of it even worthwhile. While not the panacea on which we've all waited, OOP is, however, changing not only our concept of software design and development, but is subtly re-shaping the way in which we see and know the world. For technical communicators, this epistemological change will radically affect not only the way we craft software specifications, but will permanently re-shape our worldview.

Weathington, Thomas L., Jr. STC Proceedings (1998). Articles>Writing>Specifications>Technical Writing

24.
#34467

So What IS User Requirements Gathering?

Requirements gathering is all about aiming at the right target. It doesn't matter how accurate you are, if you aim at the wrong target, you miss.

Frontend Infocentre (2009). Articles>Usability>Research>Functional Specifications

25.
#22516

Specifications and Standards Resources  (link broken)

A collection of dozens of online resources for writers of standards and specifications.

IPA. Resources>Directories>Standards>Specifications

 
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