Serena launches free requirements-visualization tool

It hopes to ease some of the battles between business users and IT over requirements

Serena Software unveiled a visualization tool aimed at lessening the long-standing requirements battles between business users and IT by offering simulations of how applications will work -- before developers even start writing any code.

The new Serena Prototype Composer, which is free, is a requirements-visualization tool that can allow business analysts to simulate design forms and workflows to show how applications will look and function. That allows end users to work with a prototype as if it were a delivered application to verify that it meets requirements, Serena said.

Kelly Shaw, a strategic analyst at Serena, noted that the tool is aimed at eliminating some of the frustration of developers related to interpreting business requirements and building applications to meet those needs. Shaw, who worked in application development for more than 20 years, noted that "the business could not ever figure out how to give us good requirements. They would come to us with really vague requirements."

With the new tool, which is designed to work like a Microsoft Office application, IT staffers can create an end-user experience that feels like a real application. That allows them to confirm in real time that the software will meet their requirements as users interact with it, click buttons and follow links to pull data, Shaw said.

"We provide the ability to put these end-user experience screens together in an actual process," she said. "We have the ability to call out to real Web services to test against back-end systems. We have the ability to pull in data from external sources."

With the requirements-visualization tool, IT and the business can have more meaningful conversations about the requirements for a new application, thus decreasing the time it may take to make revisions, she added.

In addition to aiding business users and IT groups that work in the same location, the tool can also provide better visual examples of potential applications to offshore developers, according to Serena.

The new tool is available now at Serena's Web site.

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Heather Havenstein

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