[Univ of Cambridge] [Dept of Engineering]

SoftSpec User Guide


SoftSpec is a program designed to assist in the clarification of the aims of a software project.


Log on to a terminal in the DPO and type start SoftSpec (Note uppercase S's).

The X file manager will start up. In the column on the left, there are the icons for three programs. Double clicking on them will execute them. They are


plotview. This is used to view or to obtain a hardcopy of any .dvi files produced by SoftSpec.

Suggestions. This is used to give us feedback about the program.

Double click on the SoftSpec icon to start the program.

N.B.: You may want to iconize the file manager (by clicking on the top left corner of the window) whilst running SoftSpec to avoid cluttering the screen.


Menubars These run along the top of a widow. To select an option move the cursor on to the option and click the left-hand mouse button and a menu will appear. To select a menu option move the cursor over the options (they will highlight as the cursor passes ove r them) and release the mouse button at the desired option. The presence of a sub-menu is indicated by an arrow after an option.

Help. This is available on the right of all menubars.

Buttons. Move the cursor over a button and click to activate a button. Tutorial and help buttons are available at many points in the program. Use these if you are unsure how to proceed.

Text Input. These boxes are highlighted in dark blue. Move the cursor into an box and type as required.

USING SoftSpec

Select File in the menubar and pull down the menu.

Select Load: start a new specification by typing its name in the blue input area or select an old specification by clicking on its name in the Spec-files area.

Confirm OK. You can use the directories area to look in other directories for project files, all of which have the suffix .spec.


Select statement option from the edit menu on the menu bar and type in a statement describing the project.

Ensure your input is saved by pressing the OK button.

close the window.

Open the viewer by selecting the view option in the menubar. Note that there are several display formats.

Choose Requirements from the edit menubar.

Inputting requirements

Select the category into which your requirement falls by clicking on the required category name. (Every time you do this a checklist pops up to remind you of the sort of factors you should consider for requirements in this category)

Type into the dark blue text input boxes. You can move between input boxes with the up and down arrow keys.

To input a new item for a given category select next .


  1. Fill in the weighting, wt, field only if the requirement is a wish. Weightings must have the numerical values 3 (high), 2 (medium) and 1 (low).
  2. The status column indicates whether the requirement has been achieved by the project (COMPLETE), is not complete (PENDING) or is no longer valid (OBSELETE).
  3. The date column is automatically updated whenever the status is changed.

  4. The source column is to indicate the name or initials of the person providing the requirement. This is useful when working in a team. It is not necessary to fi ll this in on an individual project unless you wish to differentiate your own requirements from those given in the statement of the design problem you have been asked to solve.
Editing requirements

To edit a requirement it must be displayed in the editing window. There are two ways of changing the currently editable requirement:

  1. (1) Click on the category the requirement is in and move through the list of requirements of that category using the next and previous buttons until the desired one is found
  2. (2) Move into the viewing window and click on any part of the requirement you wish to alter. It will appear in the editing window

Moving requirements

To move a requirement ensure the one you want to move is displayed in the edit area. Click on move. A window containing all categories will appear, click on the required destination category.


To save your specification for reuse pulldown the file and select the save option. This saves your data in a file <project_name>.spec . Saving is acknowledged.


If the default requirement categories are not suitable for your project, you can edit the requirements categories and their check lists to suit your needs. This can be done by reading in pre-existing categories from another project or by editing the curre nt categories.


If you are satisfied with your specification then you can generate a latex report using the output option (.tex and .dvi files are produced).

The report can consist of requirements listed either by heading or by weighting (files <project_name>_h.dvi and <project_name>_w.dvi respectively).

Return to the file manager. Double click on the "." file to update the display (your latest changes will not appear on the file manager until you update it). Click on the .dvi files to select them and then double click on plotview to view them or print them.

[Help] [CBT]
Updated on 12th December, 1997