Teaming on design: Improving design collaboration with IBM Rational
My career in modeling
Early in my career as an automotive engineer, I was exposed to modeling. Growing up I had often thought that I might go into modeling, but I had envisioned something completely different. Nonetheless, I was initially excited by the prospect of creating a graphical specification of a system.
Shortly after I started modeling, I was unfortunately introduced to the challenges of collaborating on a design. Even worse were the design reviews! Preparing for the review was a tedious task of copying and pasting model graphics into a document. This was followed by printing more than 400 pages of resulting documentation, which always created a long and frustrated line of coworkers (who were waiting for their own documents to finally escape the print queue).
Reviewing was a manual process of capturing review comments in a document, either electronically or with pen and paper, and then trying to associate those comments with the model hours (or days) later. I very quickly became disillusioned with the whole thing.
Traceability was another area where tedious, manual activities were required. Inefficient 2-D spreadsheets allowed me to capture traceability from requirements to design and from requirements to testing by placing a small “X” in the correct cell of the spreadsheet. All the while, I was keeping my fingers crossed that I would not inadvertently misplace an X. And don't get me started on maintaining those beasts!
The portfolio expands
Fast forward 20 years from the moment I first created a model to today; the situation is very different. In June 2011, IBM introduced a design management capability for the Rational modeling solutions. This capability was built on the IBM
Today, I see the ongoing realization of this claim. The design management capability has extended beyond support for IBM
The design management capability allows you to establish a review as an activity that can be scheduled against all of the system and software design artifacts. The review can be done by an individual reviewer, right from a web browser. As you can see in the following screen capture, this review can also include model mark-ups, annotations and textual comments, which are all correlated to the portions of the design that they address.
For casual consumers of the model, deep understanding of client usage is no longer a requirement. As you can see in the next screen capture, the web browser is the client for browsing the model! This results in the ability to expose the modeling artifacts to a much broader audience. Stakeholders, who previously had no visibility into designs, can now have firsthand knowledge of the system.
The OSLC capability has grown to include full contextual information from the rest of the Jazz offerings from IBM, including Rational DOORS and Rational DOORS Next Generation, Rational Team Concert and Rational Quality Manager. This makes it possible to establish a complete thread of traceability from inception, through design, to testing and beyond. The extensive traceability allows a broad impact analysis to be performed in less time than was previously possible. In the following screen capture, you can see an example of an impact analysis that was done for a radar monitor.
Getting the full picture
The brevity of a blog post does not provide me the space to dive as deeply into this subject as it perhaps deserves. To dive deeper into the subject on your own, you can visit the Jazz website for documentation and articles on IBM Rational Software Architect Design Manager and IBM Rational Rhapsody Design Manager. To continue the conversation, I invite you to connect with me on Twitter @r_felice.