Visual Requirements

Frequently Asked Questions
1. How does VR model relate to use cases?
2. How does VR deal with non-functional requirements?
3. How does VR support business rules?
4. I am a textual person, I need text. How does VR support working with text?
5. Can VR be used for specifying batch processing?
6. How does VR support requirements reuse?
7. How does VR co-exist with usual text documents such as Word documents?
8. How to maintain in VR the traceability from high-level to lower-level requirements?
9. Will VR help testers?
10. This is good for new projects – but how about already existing systems?
11. What are the main advantages of VR with respect to requirements verification?
12. When I review requirements, how can I ensure the completeness of review?
13. How can I work with several similar projects – do I keep them together in the same VR project or separately?
14. How is VR different from other tools, like RequisitePro or DOORS?
15. How is the work in VR different from work in UML-based tools?
16. Aren’t prototyping tools doing the same as VR?
17. Does VR provide means for project management?
18. How difficult is it to express complex logic in VR?


1. How does VR model relate to use cases?

VR supports use cases, which it represents in amore visual way than other tools – in other words, it supports "visual use cases". Visual use cases combine together mock-ups, scenarios and requirements. That leverages rapid creation of requirements artifacts, including situations when requirements are created during sessions with domain experts / clients / end users. Also, VR provides a much more consistent way to represent intervened scenarios (when the same action / requirement has to be used in several scenarios, or the same field has to be used on several diagrams). Back to top

2. How does VR deal with non-functional requirements?

VR provides here an advantage: You express a non-functional requirement where you need it (say, in a use case) and then create a copy of the requirement in another section of your requirements model. If another use case needs the same requirement you just copy it there too. You can create a diagram called “Non-functional requirements”, define there the requirements that represent the non-functional aspects and then link them to other parts of model. For example, you can link to the button “Go” on the “Sign on” page to the performance requirement “The time of entry shall be no more than 2 seconds”, but also to keep the same requirement on the “Performance” diagram. So, your performance requirements will be kept together on the same diagram, but(!): These requirements will also be presented on the diagrams defining the dialogs that they belong to. You cannot get that in other tools. Back to top

3. How does VR support business rules?

The same approach that is described above is applicable to business rules as well. Back to top

4. I am a textual person, I need text. How does VR support working with text?

VR does work with text, and it allows you to organize text better and then, correspondingly, to work with text better. In particular, you can perform inquiries about this text in various, very effective ways.
Example: Suppose the same requirement R is applicable to several fields on different screens. If you use Word to keep the screens and requirements, usually R will be repeated on each relevant screen; or, you may maintain the references using requirement IDs. In VR, you define R once and then just put R on the required screens. Then, first, when you change R, you make only one change. Second, when you need to investigate what R is applicable to, you can do that instantly.
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5. Can VR be used for specifying batch processing?

Yes. You can use, for example, ‘pages’ to represent the incoming and outgoing data, and ‘worksheets’ to express the logic and overall context of the batch. Back to top

6. How does VR support requirements reuse?

Often it is difficult for business analysts to put requirements into some tangible form because it takes too much effort and does not help later to find and to change the requirement needed – in other words, because they don’t have proper means to deal with requirements. VR allows to express requirements in a much more convenient way, so they are better structured and are easier to find.
It is also possible to create in VR templates of requirements for reuse. Some templates are distributed with VR.
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7. How does VR co-exist with usual text documents such as Word documents?

First, if you want, say, to create a report, you can just insert VR diagrams into a Word text either by copying them, or, better, by using special operations that VR provides.
Second, in a VR project you can include references to any documents, including Word. Then just clicking on the corresponding reference you open the document (a local one or on the Internet) in the corresponding application.
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8. How to maintain in VR the traceability from high-level to lower-level requirements?

There are several ways to do that. You can create in VR a diagram called "High-level features", build there a set of requirements with high-level features and then link them, for example, to particular pages that represent the corresponding functionality. Another way to do that is to put the next-level requirements onto the content-diagrams of higher-level requirements. Back to top

9. Will VR help testers?

Yes. Testers love VR because they get much more visible and better understandable material for their work. For example, user acceptance testing becomes based directly on business analysts' specifications.
VR also targets what we call business-rules-based testing.
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10. This is good for new projects – but how about already existing systems?

Existing systems often have incomplete documentation, and one of the reasons for that is that there are no simple adequate means to specify the system under construction. After VR becomes the preferred way for a business analyst to communicate new / changed requirements to other team members, business analysts start incrementally defining more and more pieces of the existing system, so eventually the model covers the whole system. Back to top

11. What are the main advantages of VR with respect to requirements verification?

VR includes verification tools that allow to easily find out which requirements are not attached to objects, which objects do not have requirements, which pages do not have incoming links, etc. Back to top

12. When I review requirements, how can I ensure the completeness of review?

There are several ways to do that, here are some of them:
  • Use visual marking to assign a color to those elements that you reviewed
  • Create a designated diagram named, say, Reviewed, and copy there those elements and icons of diagrams that you already reviewed. Then when you will be looking at an element, VR will show you whether this element is present on Reviewed; you also can, when needed, use the command Compare diagrams to select, on the current diagram, those elements that have been reviewed.
  • Create an element-marker with special text and place it on the content-diagrams of elements you have reviewed. Then you can use in-depth substring positive or negative search to see which elements have the marker.
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13. How can I work with several similar projects – do I keep them together in the same VR project or separately?

This mainly depends on project considerations. If you are the only one who works with these projects, it may be a good idea to have all requirements in one VR project. If requirements of each project are managed by a separate person, they may establish a convention / standard structure for requirements and then import parts that are common to the projects, when required. Back to top

14. How is VR different from other tools, like RequisitePro or DOORS?

VR is positioned as a requirements development tool, though it includes also some requirements management functionality. This translates into increased visibility, efficient analysis features, specialized search features, etc. Tools like DOORS or ReqPro are first of all requirements management tools.
Also, these and other tools are table-based tools. VR is based on a richer network metaphor, so you can organize requirements conceptually and visually. And VR includes means for building use case models, mocking up screens and investigating navigation, calculating size and effort of software systems, and so on.
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15. How is the work in VR different from work in UML-based tools?

VR is a tool for organizing text that describes a product under construction. VR has a very small number of simple base concepts, which makes it easy to learn and start using.
UML is a general purpose modeling language for building analysis and design models of software systems; it contains a large number of concepts and tools to represent various aspects of software systems at very detailed level. At the same time, UML does not cover all the needs of working with requirements, which is proved by the mere existence of requirements management tools for many years.
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16. Aren’t prototyping tools doing the same as VR?

Traditionally, prototyping tools do not support modeling. They are for later stages of working on a system, because you build a prototype after at least some business analysis has already been done. VR is about doing this business analysis; but it also enables screen mock up to make requirements better understandable.
VR does not target to be a prototyping tool; it supports the work on the concept of the system when it is not that clear yet what has to be built and when there is a lot of textual material to be organized, linked, analyzed, and so on.
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17. Does VR provide means for project management?

Though first of all VR is a requirements development tool, VR does contain basic functionality to support project management. Some examples are size and effort estimation and traceability. One of the briefcases provided with VR includes a package that helps to start a project. Back to top

18. How difficult is it to express complex logic in VR?

At least not more difficult than in Word, and often much easier and efficient. For example, if there is a lot of links between (a) business objects, (b) requirements on these links and (c) requirements for these objects, VR will probably be the best way to represent that. Another advantage of VR is that it provides powerful tools for information hiding and layering.
Algorithms can be expressed using objects of standard VR types. There are advantages in presenting algorithms in VR because the repeating parts can be defined just once and then repeated where needed. That reduces the number of errors and increases productivity.

Still, if you want to express an algorithm in traditional textual form, you can use the built-in text editor of VR and then link the new element to proper objects. And, of course, you can always insert into a VR model a link to a Word document (though that content could be used by analysis functionality of VR).
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