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Executable Specifications with Scrum: A Practical Guide to Agile Requirements Discovery

By Mario Cardinal

Published by Addison-Wesley Professional

Published Date: Jul 15, 2013


Effective specifications are essential to any significant software development project, and agile projects are no exception. Traditionally, “user stories” have been central to developing specifications in agile environments, but while these are indispensable, they have not proven sufficient. In Agile Specifications, Mario Cardinal offers simple best practices for creating specifications that are more accurate, can be used to automate program code verification, and significantly improve the likelihood of project success.


Cardinal integrates and simplifies proven techniques from practices such as FIT, ATDD, and BDD, showing how to use “executable examples” to verify that an application under construction meets your specifications – and to verify this repeatedly, at any time.


Cardinal’s techniques help you go beyond merely plotting user stories to actually implementing them effectively (and quantitatively). He helps you establish a ubiquitous language for connecting requirements directly to architecture, and for establishing highly-effective roles for business analysts and architects within agile project teams.

Table of Contents

Preface     xvi
Chapter 1  Solving the Right Problem     1
Distinguishing the Requirements from the Solution     4
Recognizing the Impact of Uncertainty     5
Tackling Uncertainty    7
Summary     10
References     10

Chapter 2  Relying on a Stable Foundation     13
Defining What Will Hardly Change     14
Creating a Healthy Team     14
Requiring the Involvement of All Stakeholders     16
Expressing a Shared Vision     17
Distinguishing a Meaningful Common Goal     20
Identifying a Set of High-Level Features     21
Validating the “Can-Exist” Assumption     22
Summary     23
References     23

Chapter 3  Discovering Through Short Feedback Loops and Stakeholders’ Desirements     25
Applying the Trial-and-Error Method     25
Using Short Feedback Loops     29
Targeting Feedback Along the Expected Benefits     31
Focusing on the Stakeholders’ Desirements     31
Summary     34
References     34

Chapter 4  Expressing Desirements with User Stories     35
Describing Desirements by Using User Stories     35
Discovering Desirements by Exploring Roles and Benefits     38
Establishing a Ubiquitous Language     40
Recording Desirements by Using a Product Backlog     41
Summary     43
References     44

Chapter 5  Refining User Stories by Grooming the Product Backlog     45
Managing the Product Backlog     46
Collaborating to Groom the Product Backlog     48
Ranking User Stories with a Dot Voting Method     49
Illustrating User Stories with Storyboards     52
Sizing User Stories Using Comparison     56
Splitting User Stories Along Business Values     60
Tracking User Stories with a Collaboration Board     62
Delivering a Coherent Set of User Stories     68
Planning Work with User Stories     70
Summary     71
References     72

Chapter 6  Confirming User Stories with Scenarios     73
Scripting User Stories with Scenarios     74
   Expressing Scenarios with Formality     76
   Scripting Scenarios Using the FIT Tabular Format     77
   Scripting Scenarios Using Given-When-Then Syntax     79
   Choosing Between FIT Tabular Format or Given-When-Then Syntax     80
   Formalizing a Ubiquitous Language     81
   Splitting Scenarios into Commands or Queries     83
Confirming Collaboratively in a Two-Step Process     85
Removing Technical Considerations from Scenarios     89
Evolving Scenarios from Sprint to Sprint     91
   Organizing Scenarios by Feature     92
   Documenting Scenarios by Feature     93
   Avoiding Duplication and Merging Conflicts     94
Summary     95
References     96

Chapter 7  Automating Confirmation with Acceptance Tests     97
Evolving Scenarios into Acceptance Tests     98
Automating Scenarios Using the Red-Green-Refactor Cycle     101
Translating the Scenario into an Acceptance Test     104
   Transposing Using an Internal DSL     104
   Creating a Test     107
   Coding the DSL into the Newly Created Test     108
Connecting the Newly Created Test with the Interface     110
   Exercising the Interface     112
   Chaining Context Between the Steps of the Scenario     113
   Making the Test Fail     114
Implementing the Interface     115
   Replacing Unit Testing with Context-Specification Testing     116
   Making the Test Pass     117
Evolving the Acceptance Test     117
Running Acceptance Tests Side-by-Side with Continuous Integration     118
Enhancing Scenarios with Test Results     119
Summary     121
References     122

Chapter 8  Addressing Nonfunctional Requirements     123
Improving External Quality Using Restrictions     125
Translating Nonfunctional Requirements into Restrictions     127
Reducing the Functional Scope to a Single Scenario     129
Setting Measurable Quality Objectives     131
Testing Restrictions with Proven Practices     135
Ensuring Internal Quality Using Sound Engineering Practices     137
   Improving Software Construction with Explicit Practices     137
   Mastering Practices with Collaborative Construction     140
Summary     142
References     143

Chapter 9  Conclusion     145
Recapitulating the Book     146
Summarizing the Process     148
Drawing Attention to Individual Roles     149

Glossary     153
Index     159

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ISBN-10: 0-13-277652-9

ISBN-13: 978-0-13-277652-3

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