Beta-Testers Wanted for Binom, the New ReqIF Compare

The Requirements Interchange Format (ReqIF) is used to exchange requirements – as the name suggests. But most of the time, you would do more than just one exchange, and if you do this, you may want to know what actually changed between two versions.

This is not really news, and our free formalmind Studio has had a simple compare function for a long time. But it is not very sophisticated and – let's be honest – not really fit for a production environment. So we set out to change this and built a brand new compare tool for ReqIF. And we invite you to become a beta tester.

But first some news

There are some events in Germany coming up that you may be interested in:

Become a Beta Tester of Binom, the new ReqIF Compare

In a few weeks, we will start beta testing of Binom, which is the name of the new ReqIF compare component. If you would like to participate, then click the link below.

Once released, Binom will not be free of charge. Of course it is free to beta testers, and those who actively participate will have a chance to purchase it at a discount. Binom will be included in our Axiom component for free.

If you sign up below, we will send you the installation instructions, once the beta test starts.

Join the Binom Beta Test >>

Binom for Comparing ReqIF Files

Just so you know what's in store, here are a few screenshots from the new feature.

Showing Changes in the Specification Structure

Especially with big models, it is important to easily see the structural changes. Therefore, we put a lot of effort into the structural compare, which looks as follows:

There are broadly two kinds changes in the structure of a Requirements Document (or Specification, in ReqIF terminology): (1) moving elements around, including in and out of hierarchies, and (2) adding (or removing) requirements. The above image shows both.

The moving around of elements can be seen in a number of places. For instance, the order of Five has changed to the position before Four. Likewise, for the element Nine, the hierarchy has changed, becoming a child of Eight (rather than a sibling).

The removal of an element can be seen with Seven, which has been removed.

We use visual cues to visualize what happens. Changes in elements are marked by boxing them, and corresponding elements are connected by lines. Changes propagate to the top of the hierarchy, which is the reason why the root Specification Requirements Document is marked with a dashed line, but not boxed.

We are still fine-tuning the styling, and if you decide to participate in the beta test, we are looking forward to your feedback.

Content Changes

All changes in the model are shown in an intuitive tree view, which can also be printed and filtered. The following is an extract of such a list of changes.

The changes contain a description that "speaks". For instance, the requirement One has changed. By drilling down in the hierarchy, the actual change ("One Modified" to "One") is found. But this is just a summary. A complete side-by-side comparison is available in the Properties View. The attributes that have changed are marked by a yellow background:

Filters and Navigation

Last, we will provide a number of ReqIF-specific filters. For instance, you can exclude certain attributes from the comparison. Some ReqIF exchange tools generate a whole bunch of attributes that are used internally by that tool. You can just filter them out. Correspondingly, do you really want to know if the timestamp of an element changed if its value has not changed? Filtering is important to just see what's relevant.

Binom also provides the ability to jump from change to change through the model, ensuring that you look through all of them.

Beta-Test Binom

We hope that this little preview made you curious and hope that you will join the Binom Beta Test!

Image courtesy of Suvro Datta /

This article was published first at Formal Mind.

ReqIF in the News (German)

In letzter Zeit wird wieder viel von ReqIF geredet.  Hervorheben möchten wir unter anderem die folgenden zwei Artikel:

Neben dem Thema "offene Standards" wird auch in beiden Artikeln das Thema Modellierung angesprochen. Insbesondere wurde bei Daimler MBSE (Model-Based Systems Engineering) als Schlüsseltechnologie erkannt.

Wir bei Formal Mind sind überzeugt, dass modellbasierte Entwicklung mit offenen Technologien die einzige Möglichkeit ist, das rasante Tempo bei der Entwicklung beizubehalten.  Modelle ermöglichen (teil)automatisierte Validierung, Verifizierung, Testgenerierung, Konsistenzprüfung, Änderungsmanagement und vieles mehr. Wenn aber die Modelle nicht offenen Standards folgen, dann machen sich die Hersteller auf eine gefährliche Art und Weise von den Herstellern der Software-Werkzeuge abhängig.

Viel Spaß beim Lesen – und wir freuen uns über Kommentare zu diesen Entwicklungen.


This article was published first at Formal Mind.

Where is ReqIF Today? Survey Results from ReConf 2015

ReConf is the largest conference on requirements engineering in Europe. Of course, Formal Mind was present, both with a talk and as an exhibitor.  We have already posted a retrospective.

At the same time we supervised a group of students who were participating in the Entrepreneurship Lab of the University of Düsseldorf.  Two of these students joined us at ReConf and surveyed attendees on ReqIF.  Following are some of the results that may be of interest to our readers.

German Alert: As the students produced a report in German, and the charts from the report that are shown here are in German as well.  In the context of this article, their interpretation should be fairly straight forward, even if you don't speak German.

New: Join the Discussion!

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Two Out of Three Know RIF/ReqIF

During the two days in Munich, the students managed to interview almost 60 participants regarding their opinions about the Requirements Interchange Format (ReqIF).  As expected most of the respondents were requirements engineers (38%). The rest was a mix of managers, consultants and the like.

This article was published first at Formal Mind.

8. Juni: Vortrag in Bonn (kostenlos)

Für die Leser, die Deutsch sprechen und nächsten Montag in der Nähe von Bond sind, könnte die folgende Veranstaltung interessant sein: Michael Jastram wird beim Eclipse DemoCamp den Vortrag "Systementwicklung mit Eclipse in der Lehre" halten. Details hier >>

Teilnehmer erhalten ein kostenloses Exemplar vom formalmind Studio Handbuch (solange der Vorrat reicht)!

This article was published first at Formal Mind.

Why ReqIF is better than RIF

When the ReqIF standard was created, it was called RIF.  Only when the OMG took over the standard, it was renamed: Unfortunately, there was already an established standard called RIF, the W3C Rule Interchange Format.

Today, both ReqIF and RIF exist and are in use.  Many tools support RIF as well, so potential adopters may wonder why to go with the new ReqIF, when there is an established RIF standard around.  Which one to pick?

This article was published first at Formal Mind.

Finally See Big Cells as a Whole

Thousands of users are using formalmind Studio on a regular basis, and we get a lot of positive feedback and words of encouragement.  But there is one thing that drives many users mad: If an attribute is large, then it is not shown as a whole, but "truncated".  This is particularly annoying for embedded images.  While there has been a work-around (using edit mode), this was cumbersome and not really that user-friendly.

Therefore, we finally addressed this issue, by building a new Specification editor.  Don't worry the old one is still there, in case you prefer it.

This article was published first at Formal Mind.

ISO/IEC 29110 (Part 1): Lightweight Standard-based Software and Systems Engineering

Those familiar in the software and systems engineering domain are typically familiar with ISO/IEC 15288, a standard covering processes and life cycle stages. But it's huge, and small organizations have a hard time to justify its adaptation, for good reasons. For those not familiar with the standard should check out  What is ISO/IEC 15288 and Why Should I Care?

Before we Start: Some News

Last week, we spent in Munich at ReConf 2015.  We posted our impressions in a separate article – please check it out.

Also, the current issue of Eclipse Magazin (German) features the article "Entwicklung mit System: Systems Engineering mit Eclipse" by Michael Jastram.

This article was published first at Formal Mind.

ReConf 2015: A Retrospective

Demo of Axiom at the Formal Mind Booth at ReConf 2015Last week, ReConf 2015 took place in Munich – this conference is the biggest on requirements an Europe, and the place where the Who is Who of RE meets.  First impressions have already been posted.

Formal Mind was present in two capacities.  First, we an exhibitor, sharing a booth with our partner Orange Moon Systems.  Second, we had a talk at the science track, given by Michael Jastram.

This article was published first at Formal Mind.

New Documentation / New Writing / ReConf Special Sale

Better Documentation

A while ago, we migrated the user documentation of Eclipse RMF and formalmind Studio to a new publishing technology (Latex).  This allows us to publish the documentation at  the same time on the Web, as a PDF and as built-in tool documentation (Eclipse Help).  You can access the web and PDF from the Handbook page. In preparation for ReConf next week, we significantly improved the documentation.  Check out these improved chapters:

  • Overview – with sections on terminology and on the work of the ProStep implementor forum.
  • Import and Export – summarizes the options for getting data in and out of formalmind Studio.
  • Presentations – A concise documentation of all available presentations (plug-ins).
  • Searching – as the number of search options increased, we documented them properly.
  • ... and many, many smaller improvements.

This article was published first at Formal Mind.

Sprechen Sie deutsch? Or: How to make this blog as useful to you as possible

This is actually the 50th post to the Formal Mind blog. A reason to celebrate, but also a reason to reflect. The goal of this blog is to inform our readers on science in systems engineering.  Are we doing a good job?

To find out, we created a short one-page survey on the content of this blog.  In particular, we have a lot of readers in Germany, so we'd like to hear from you whether it is worth the while to offer a German translation of the blog articles.

This article was published first at Formal Mind.

This article was published first at Formal Mind

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