Interface Driven Requirements Docs

I use Powerpoint 2007 to do all my prototyping and requirements.  It’s a great tool.  Much much better than PPT 2003.  Over the last 18 months, I have used this technique to great success.  Check out these two examples.  One is an older style and the other is newer.  The newer one has animation, so you might want to check it out in presentation mode.

In general, the thing to notice is that they contain very little text.  From a engineer’s standpoint it means having to extrapolate architectural requirements from the UI.  I have seen people call this Interface Driven Architecture.  Here is another snippet on IDA.

This technique has been honed on dozens of products dating back to 1995.  I used to use Visio but it was a static representation of each screen with alot of words.  Over time I kept removing words and adding in fake interactivity.  The point of this is to get enough detail to the engineer to start working and sketch out an architecture.  It doesn’t represent the final reality of the product, but rather the beginning of the process.  It’s a visual use case with details.

How do you do requirements? How close should the reality and the documents conform?  100%?  30%?

I think there is an analogy between documents that are trying to be 100% accurate and 30% accurate to Waterfall versus Agile methodologies of project management.  I am a fan of Agile because it embraces change and encourages iterations and discussions.  I also like documents that are 30% accurate  for the same reasons.

Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a library of different kinds of planning documents online?  I wonder if Universities are teaching the different kinds of requirements docs and prototypng?  Please send me examples of your docs.  How would you improve them if you could do it anyway you wanted?

2 replies on “Interface Driven Requirements Docs”

I actually have had a very very hard time getting used to Fireworks. I find Photoshop much easier to use. Ben Nadel loves fireworks though.

There are a bunch of rapid prototyping tools out there. – very popular

I have tried them out and they are ok. However, I have found PowerPoint to be a wonderful tool.

One key to Visual Use Casing is that the end result looks good but isn’t confused with the actual application. People tend to think, “Oh it was so easy to make it look this good in a prototype, therefore it must be easy to make in reality.” Plus they think it’s more baked than it really is.

Whatya think?