IBM RFE Community: How to create an RFE

developerWorks explains the technology request for enhancement process


Your narrator is IBM® developerWorks Advisory Software Engineer David Salinas: Hello, my name is David Salinas, and I work at IBM®. I work on the IBM RFE website supporting the IBM RFE Community [requests for enhancement]. Today's tutorial is about creating an RFE on the IBM RFE Community.

To do that, we're going to go through a series of steps.

Figure 1. Steps to submitting an RFE
Steps to submitting an RFE
Steps to submitting an RFE

First, we're going to go to the IBM RFE Community. We're going to go then ahead and then click on submit RFEs, which will take us to a form which we're going to go ahead and fill out at which point, we're going to go ahead and submit the RFE to IBM.

And then we'll be presented with a "view RFE" form. There, we're going to go ahead and use the "email this RFE to notify others" regarding the IBM RFE we just submitted. And then, finally, we're going to go to the My watchlist feature with the IBM RFE Community so we can opt in for email notifications to any changes to this RFE that we just submitted.

So, let us go ahead and begin going through that process. So this is the IBM RFE Community.

Figure 2. The RFE Community
The RFE Community
The RFE Community

You will notice I'm already logged in in the upper righthand side, as indicated up here. This is my alias or screen name as I am logged into the site.

What you'll notice on the IBM RFE Community if you're not familiar with it is that you have the ability to filter your view of the IBM RFE Community by various brands that are submitted on here. And so, if you know that the product you're submitting for is related to one of those brands, you can click on that particular brand and submit the record directly there.

In this case, we're going to go ahead and submit an RFE against the IBM RFE site, which is listed under the brand Rational®. So we're going to go ahead and click Rational, which will take us to the Rational branded landing page for the IBM RFE Community.

Figure 3. Specific-product RFE page
Specific-product RFE page
Specific-product RFE page

Here, we're going to go ahead and click submit ... I mean, submit RFEs. Apologize.

By doing that, I'll be taken to the RFE submission form.

Figure 4. The form to submit RFEs
The form to submit RFEs
The form to submit RFEs

One of the things that you'll notice immediately is that the information is auto filled to a degree based on what brand that you were on as far as the landing page.

In this case, since I was on the Rational brand, already the Rational brand and product family is selected for me. At which point all I need to do is select the individual product, which is the RFE Community because we're going to submit an RFE against the website.

Also notice that other fields are filled in for you as well, such as the company name, in this case, IBM. We're also going to go ahead and provide a headline. In this case, we're going to ask for an RFE to allow automated video recording in order to make tutorials easier. So we'd like to see automated video recording.

So now that I've created a headline for this RFE, I'm going to go ahead and pick a priority. You can click on the definitions to see what those definitions are for each priority. But basically here they go high ... I mean, low, medium, high and urgent. In this particular case I'd say it's a medium priority. Go ahead and select medium. I've already selected the brand, the product family and product.

Now I need to select the component. Component is basically a filter against a product so that the individual product team will be able to understand initially where the RFE really sort of fits in their internal categorization of the product.

In this case, a video recording is sort of basically about the overall site, since nothing else really seems pertinent, unless I wanted to select other in this particular situation. But I'm going to go ahead and say it's overall site.

Then I need to select an operating system. In this case, I'm going to select all because it really pertains to any operating system, and more to the website.

Notice that the RFE's public. This is set by IBM based on individual product that is being utilized ... I mean, the RFE is being submitted against. So this individual record is public.

For some particular products, the RFE may be private at least initially until IBM can triage the RFE to make sure that it makes sense and go ahead and make that record public. Otherwise it will be public.

Next you have a description, a use case and business justification field. Notice that you may have noticed earlier that the company field had a key next to it. That key iconography means that that field is private. And so therefore, the only person who can see that even if the RFE record is public is yourself, and that information is also provided to IBM.

So you have full confidence that any time you see the key icon for a particular field the only person that will be able to see it is you and IBM.

So the use case ... I mean, the description first. So I'm going to give a short description here, but as best practice as far as being able to get all the information in the hands of IBM and the product teams that are going to be evaluating your submission, it should be your top priority to make sure that you give as much information as possible, be as verbose and as thorough in your description on use case so that IBM can appropriately evaluate and triage your product enhancement request. So I'm going to go ahead and provide a quick description.

Next, you should be able to give a use case. A use case if you click here will give you an example. So we're going to go ahead and take that example, and we're going to at least initially put it into the field.

Then we're going to modify it.

Now, you should need to spend quite a bit of time writing this up, so don't get frustrated by that. Understand that as much information as you can provide to IBM ensures that their response most accurately reflects not only your intent as far as communication but also their understanding of how much effort would be required to not only implement but also for whether or not it fits into their product roadmap as well.

So in writing out the use case, you notice here that there's quite a bit of information that's required in order to provide the best possible explanation of what's going on. I'm almost done here so I'm going to do a scenario that a user is interested in actually promoting features to the website.

And that provides use case.

Now, business justification is an optional field, unlike some of these other ones that are required. So here in this particular case you do not have to provide anything. However, if you have some information that you would like to provide to IBM but don't want it to be public, this is a great field to use for that purpose.

But particularly, you should provide a strong business case, a strong business justification for why you need it. In this case, I'm going to leave it empty.

Notice here that to watch this RFE by submitting here will go ahead and add it to your watch list. So this is automatically checked for you.

Finally, you can also attach files. I'm going to go ahead and attach a quick file so you can get an idea of what happens here.

So I'm going to go to browse. I'm going to pick ... and you want to pick ... I wrote up some tutorials that I would like to record. So I'm going to give this as an example to IBM so they get an idea of what, how this functionality would be useful.

And then this shows, it can be attached to a particular field so that the IBM team can be able to know the information you're attaching helps or complements a particular field to further the information there. So in this case, I really think this sort of shows the description. I'm going to make this actually private so that this particular information isn't publicly shared.

Finally, I can go ahead and click submit.

Now what happens is that all attachments are virus scanned in order to make sure that they're not going to interfere with anyone that were to download it — either someone in the community if the attachment is public or by someone at IBM as well.

Notice here that once I've attached it, I see all the information here and it clearly puts a key icon next to it, the lock icon, which tells me that this is now private. All the information I just provided is there as well. So at this time I'm going to go ahead and submit the RFE record.

Once I submit the RFE record, it's very important to take note of what's indicated here, that approximately 24 hours after the record's been submitted, it will be put into a locked state, which means it can no longer be edited, and at which point IBM will now go ahead and take that record and evaluate it and respond to it.

The reason why you're given 24 hours is in case there's additional information that you don't have at that moment and you need to grab, or in case you want to be able to further elaborate on your thoughts, you have 24 hours before that RFE will get into a locked state and will actually be processed by IBM. Until that time, IBM actually doesn't have this record internally, and so they're not aware of the record.

Once you've actually submitted the record, you'll notice that all the information that you provide will be here. Since I'm the author of this record, I also see some private fields, such as company and also the business justification.

And once again the attachment I attached is also listed as a key icon, meaning that it's only ... it's private so only I and IBM can see it.

So now that this record has been submitted, I notice it has one attachment and there's one user watching it, and that's me. But because I've submitted this record, I know of at least one other person that would like to be made aware of it. So I'm going to go ahead and use the "email this RFE" functionality.

The email this RFE functionality allows, is that it allows someone to be able to go ahead and through this form communicate that this RFE has been submitted on the record ... I mean, on the IBM RFE Community, and get an actual email with the URL to that record so they can view it themselves.

So, all you need to do is provide an email address. And at this point I'm going to provide a fake email address. You can provide your own supplemental message. One is already put in for you, but you can change that to be whatever you like. You can also have a copy of the email sent to you as well. You do not have to choose to do that.

Then at that point you just click submit. The email would be generated and sent to the individuals that you provide the email address for. And if you also ask for a copy to be sent to your email account, that will be done as well.

So at this point we've created an RFE. We've attached a file to it. We went ahead and used the "email this RFE" functionality. Now we want to make sure we're opt in so that we can get email notifications to any changes to this record. We're going to do that through the My watchlist.

Figure 5. My watchlist
My watchlist
My watchlist

By clicking My watchlist on the righthand side under my stuff, you'll be taken to the My watchlist page. Here you'll notice that you'll have a full list of all the RFEs that you actually are interested in. You can simply add an RFE from here. You can break it down by categories as well. We're not going to do all that.

But what we are going to do is that we just submitted a new RFE, and that new RFE is at the bottom of our list right here, number 12491. And what we're going to do is we're going to go ahead, at the bottom of the My watchlist page under the actions section, there will be subscribe to email notifications.

By clicking this, I'm going to be opting in for email notifications. Effectively I'm saying, go ahead and send me emails. I will go ahead and click submit, and at which point I am now subscribed to email notifications. As it says here, I'm subscribed for email notifications, otherwise I'll be getting emails.

What happens is any change to any RFEs that are on your watch list, an email would be generated once a day for all the changes for any of the RFEs that are on your watch list, those changes being if IBM responded to it, there was a comment added by either IBM or anyone, attachment was added to it by anyone, the state of the RFE changed, and so forth.

Any of those changes will then be included in the email that is sent to you. But in order to reduce the number of emails, you'll get one consolidated email that reflect all the changes to any of the RFEs, once again, that were on your watch list. So opting in for these email notifications is a great way to be able to get information in an automated fashion.

So where does that leave us? That leaves us basically walking through all the steps. And so as you can see, this has been a demonstration and tutorial on creating RFEs on the IBM RFE Community.

We hope that by watching this tutorial and learning more about the IBM RFE Community, that you'll now be interested in participating in the IBM RFE Community and collaborating with your peers and with IBM for your ideas on IBM products and services. Thank you for your time.

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ArticleTitle=IBM RFE Community: How to create an RFE