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A controlled experiment to evaluate how styles affect the understandability of requirements specifications

: Kamsties, E.; Knethen, A. von; Reussner, R.


Salinesi, C.:
Eighth International Workshop on Requirements Engineering - Foundation for Software Quality, REFSQ'02 : Held in Essen, September 9th and 10th, 2002, in Connection with the 10th International Requirements Engineering Conference (RE'02)
Amsterdam: Elsevier, 2003 (Information and software technology 45.2003,14)
International Workshop on Requirements Engineering - Foundation for Software Quality (REFSQ) <8, 2002, Essen>
International Requirements Engineering Conference (RE) <10, 2002, Essen>
Konferenzbeitrag, Zeitschriftenaufsatz
Fraunhofer IESE ()

This paper presents a controlled experiment in which two different requirements specification styles (white-box and black-box) were compared concerning the understandability of two requirements specifications from the viewpoint of a customer. The results of the experiment confirm the common belief that black-box requirements specifications (e.g., documented with SCR) are easier to understand from a customer point of view than white-box specifications (e.g., documented with UML). Questions about particular functions and behavior of the specified system were answered faster and more correctly by the participants. This result suggests that using a black-box specification style when communicating with customers is beneficial.