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Using evolving design patterns for collaborative requirements engineering and solution documentation

: Reiners, René

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STCSN E-Letter. Online resource 2 (2014), No.3
Journal Article, Electronic Publication
Fraunhofer FIT ()
design patterns; requirements engineering; knowledge management

Activities regarding requirements engineering as a traditional discipline within well-defined software engineering processes often work well for projects with dedicated aims and defined outcomes. However, in the scope of explorative projects, i.e., research and development, aims are not always set precisely and achievements cannot be measured against pre-defined validation criteria. Thus, initially gathered requirements may continuously change over time, depending on the knowledge gained during the project and decisions made over time. In case that the project lasts several months up to years and members are spatially distributed and need to work asynchronously, keeping track of requirements, their updates as well as extensions, becomes an even harder task. Additionally, found solutions must be connected to initial needs, requirements or ideas. This article introduces the concept of applying design patterns for documenting evolving project knowledge, starting from the formulation of problems and requirements. The notion of design patterns is radically changed such that they are not created after a long period of research and validation in order to purely provide knowledge on proven solutions; furthermore, their parts are created according to the current project’s activities, starting from early problem descriptions, user needs and real requirements. In terms of patterns, these kinds of formulations correspond to the problem that a pattern addresses. Over time, when new knowledge is gained and the problem can be better described and first solutions appear, the still missing pattern sections are updated and reworked. A defined process helps to ensure the completeness of the pattern and the validity of its contents. All project members are encouraged to contribute to a pattern’s development regarding its contents, appropriateness, formulation quality, and its validity. For realizing this concept, this article describes the derived collaborative formulation process, indicated user roles and summarizes first results from its implementation as a web-based platform in a real joint research project setting.