stpBA Storyboarding for Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 Team System
Badr Khan, Projects Director and Riaz Hussain, Business Development Director
After being blown away by a great new product, most of the time you say, "It will change the way you work!" A measure of how exceptional stpBA's Storyboarding for Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 Team System is, is that it probably won't change the way you work at all. Storyboarding is essentially a plug-in for Visio 2003 (only, although stpBA confirms they're working on an Office 12 version). Using Visio, you develop storyboards of your application's screens just as you (or your designers) probably already do. Then you press some buttons, turn the wheel, and out comes requirements and, if you're using VS Team system, work items ready for assignment and tracking.
The great thing about storyboards is that they're one of the few analysis and design diagrams that are actually comprehensible and of interest to all stakeholders; one reason I think Storyboarding is the best rookie product I've seen in years is that it's a tool that you can fire up in a meeting without hesitation. But the problem with storyboarding has always been transferring the work into requirements and work items, tracking changes back into the storyboard, and maintaining the storyboards as anything but a write-once store. Storyboarding removes this barrier, making storyboards a live tool for project control and management. Finally, if you combine Storyboarding with the usage-centered design methodology of Constantine and Lockwood's 1999 Jolt-winning book Software for Use, you'll really get a leg up on requirements.
Corticon Business Rules Modeling Studio
Analysts who use decision tables to specify complex business rules, know the inherent problems that easily lead to inconsistencies and incompleteness. Furthermore, developers who translate these rules from the tabular descriptions to working code face additional opportunity to introduce errors and create even more work for testers. But Corticon is changing the way development teams think about decision tables. Corticon Business Rules Modeling Studio presents an interface resembling a spreadsheet to the analyst. The analyst creates a set of business rules using a simple set of operations, then mind-blowingly, the product generates all the missing scenarios, reduces redundancy, and makes the set logically complete and verifiable. It also generates an executable service that encapsulates the decision tables. Developers don't need to modify the codeÑthey simply access the services of the generated components. This UML-based design product is a different breed from all others and may well change the way your team works on future complex projects.
The world of UML modeling tools is pretty ho-hum these days. It seems every tool does this, and that, and some of that, too. (Yawn.) But when I looked at MagicDraw Version 12, I woke up. I've been watching this product since its first Jolt entry at Version 8.5. NoMagic just keeps making it better. The UML 2 syntax is handled adroitly -- including sequence diagrams and interaction frames. Add to this, support for defining your own Domain Specific Languages plus a plug-in for SysML, a domain-specific modeling language for systems engineering applications. You also get new integration with popular requirements tools, improved code generation for Java, C++ and C#, WSDL, and XML, and a powerful, consistent GUI. But what really blew me away was the new support for Business Process Modeling Notation (BPMN) and export to BPEL. Excellent job! The Business Analyst view lets a BA focus on the BP diagram and a couple of other useful artifacts without being distracted by all the other UML and custom diagrams. There is a lot to pay attention to here.
Stylus Studio 2007 XML Enterprise SuiteÑXML Pipeline
It is the cliche of the century: XML is the lingua-franca of data interchange. But the complexity of the XML space still bewilders and bedevils. Stylus Studio XML Pipeline is a visual data integration tool for designing, editing, debugging, and deploying complete XML applications. It greatly simplifies XML processing, so the application developer can concentrate on "what" needs to be done, and not the minutiae of "how" it is done. The XML Pipeline editor that lets you build XML application pipelines: a series of visual nodes representing linked XML processing operations, including XQuery, XSLT, XML conversion and validation, and access to non-XML data sources. The product's sweet spot is the XML Pipeline Simulator integrated with the XML Pipeline Debugger. Now, each individual component can be tested, and then the entire pipeline can also be debugged as a unit. And when the pipeline is debugged and working, Stylus Studio will generate, compile, and run the Java code for your pipeline.