Using Redmine for Business Analysis part 2

Posted on: April 3rd, 2013 by csaunders No Comments

Standard Wiki Text Interface:

The standard wiki text interface can do many of the usual wiki tricks. Just like Wikipedia, links to other Redmine pages can be automatically created by enclosing key words in square brackets.

Pages can be referenced from any where within a Redmine wiki, making it easy for a reader to jump straight to a common definition text or a more detailed explanation of a complex concept.

This ‘link jumping’ facility allows for a single reference point ‘page’ to be maintained instead of having to maintain tens or hundreds of paragraphs of text embedded in your business analysis library which can all very quickly get out of date and then no longer accurately reflect the business process or concept that they describe.

Heading Links:

Each Redmine wiki page can have a number of hierarchical headings nested under each other.

More importantly headings can be directly referenced in Redmine wiki links allowing for ‘reference jumps’ that go directly to the page section header of interest rather than focusing the readers attention at the top of a long page of text.

This is especially useful to draw the readers attention to a short concise piece of information stored in a sub-section of a much larger complex topic.

Lists:

Bullet point and numerical lists are also easy to create in Redmine wiki. By simply appending the relevant textual symbol (a ‘*’ or a ‘#’) before the start of each line, a quick list of items can be built up.

Because the symbols are interpreted by the wiki engine there is no need to renumber long numbered lists when inserting a new item member, the wiki engine automatically renumbers them for you.

Bullet point lists are useful for creating lists of item members that ought to be included in short drop down combo boxes in screens or for itemising short lists of valid entries etc.

Numerical lists are useful for recording lists of short concise business rules that must be enforced or small functional use-cases that must be met. The ability to number them makes it easy to reference later on in the wiki page (though as the numbers can change this cross-reference isn’t without risk)

Tables:

Tables are created by inserting pipe symbols (‘|’) before and after each cell.

Table headers can be created with bold styles and other emphasing font features.

One of the best uses for tables is for listing screen fields or database table attributes that must be included in software requirements.

Because Redmine wiki fonts can be coloured or underlined or ‘struck-out’, you can even draw attention to specific fields or rows in the table.

For example it’s not uncommon when writing software requirements to want to include screen fields that the business analyst still doesn’t know where they come from in the database backed. It’s a simple matter to change the field name text to the colour red to draw attention to the fact that there is additional systems analysis work to do later.

The ‘strike-out’ functionality is even more useful. It’s very common to have an over zealous business analyst include all available on-screen fields or database attributes when writing new requirements only to have a systems analyst or developer point out later on in the SDLC that some are redundant in the new system.

It’s a simple matter to update the wiki table and ‘strike-out’ the unwanted rows whilst still leaving the row text readable thus not leaving readers in a state of confusion when they start to notice missing text!

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