ProR / Requirements Engineering

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.

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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.

Formal Mind wishes you a peaceful holiday season

Another year has passed, and we would like to thank our customers and the users of our technologies for working with us.

The holiday season is a good time for reflecting, and we are proud to see our motto - science for systems engineering - applied in practice.  What we achieved has been made possible by customers who believe in our technologies and who subscribe to our principles.  One of our most valued principles is openness: science should not be an end in itself: It is a means for making this world a better place. We believe that openness acts as a multiplier that increases overall wealth.  Here are three examples of our modest contributions in this respect in 2013:

This article was published first at Formal Mind.

If you need to comply with ISO 26262, IEC 61508 or similar standards, you may need to work more formal

It's quite impressive how safe cars, planes and trains are today.  Looking at this, it seems that we understand really well how to build reliable systems. This is in part due to safety standards.  When they are not followed, as it seems to have been the case with Toyota, things can go wrong.  Safety standards evolve, for two reasons: They evolve as we learn more about safety, and they evolve, as they need to adapt to the complexity found in today's systems.  That's why they started to recommend the use of formal methods.

Before we look into formal methods, and how they relate to requirements, let's get an overview of safety standards.  The following figure has been taken from the Deploy Wiki, which provides quite a bit of analysis.

Safety Standards

This article was published first at Formal Mind.

ReqIF is here - what now?

The Requirements Interchange Format (ReqIF) came a long way, ever since its inception in 2004, when members of the Herstellerinitiative Software (HIS), a trade association of five major car manufacturers, decided to commission the creation of a requirements exchange format.  Step by step, the standard became more mature and was changing patronage, until it finally became an international standard of the Object Management Group (OMG), a not-for-profit computer industry standards consortium.

Recently the focus for ReqIF changed from standardization (pretty much done) to applicability. In particular, users and tool vendors are actively ensuring interoperability of the various tools that support ReqIF, by working together in an Implementor Forum that is lead by ProSTEP iViP, an association for the manufacturing industry.  Eight tool vendors work peacefully together to ensure that requirements data exported by one tool can be processed by another.

This is good news for manufacturers and suppliers of industries where requirements are exchanged.  But what does this all mean?  Who is affected, what changes are expected?  This article makes an attempt to answer some of these questions.

This article was published first at Formal Mind.

RMF/ProR 0.8.0 available

The RMF team is proud to announce the 0.8.0 version of RMF and ProR (Download) to spice up your summer.  The most visible improvements regards the handling of default values, which we will describe further below.  You can also import examples into your workspace via File | New | Example.... This should be useful to new users, to get an idea of what's possible.

But there are also a number of back-end improvements that either resolve issues or speed up things.  We hope that you will give ProR 0.8.0 a try.  If you have ProR already installed, you can update via Help | Check for Updates.

This article was published first at Formal Mind.

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