IBM Rational DOORS Review

With reusable DXL, It allows me to write a single script that can then be plugged into all DOORS clients, but it takes quite a lot of experience to master.


Valuable Features

By far and away the most useful feature of IBM Rational DOORS is the Dynamic Extension Language (DXL) syntax & manual that it comes with (then again I must be biased having been coding in DXL for 13 years and counting). With each new release going back to when I started with DOORS 4.1 the vendor (used to be Telelogic, until IBM bought them out) provides a DXL Reference Manual as part of the product which is free to anyone using DOORS - explaining which functions the IBM development team is using themselves to extend the DOORS client functionality (and inviting all software developers to take their crack at customizing the DOORS client to better suit the needs of their company)

Improvements to My Organization

By learning how to write reusable DXL, I've been able to write a single script that can then be plugged into all DOORS clients at my company, meaning if I can save one person 1 hour we can then multiply that by hundreds (if not thousands) of system engineers which equates to quite a lot of time & money saved.

Room for Improvement

Getting started with DOORS Administration, how to setup a project, how to maintain it, and how to get started with DXL are all areas that need quite a bit of experience to master. I highly recommend finding someone certified in being an IBM Rational DOORS v9 deployment specialist and better yet using him/her as a mentor as you learn yourself. Skipping the all important project architecture workshop is going to cause you a lot of frustration throughout the lifecycle of your project.

Use of Solution

I have been using DOORS for 15 years, 1st two as a software developer that looked up the requirements for the GUI he was assigned to develop, the latter 13 for everything from writing DXL to meeting with clients, being a technical lead for a distributed set of DXL developers = lots of fun.

Deployment Issues

Not having the right people bought in at all levels of management to have a smooth flowing process for deployment, it takes the work of quite a few individuals to make it all work, IT, software, systems, configuration management, quality - getting everyone on the same page and the training they need just in time is quite a challenge.

Stability Issues

By placing the DXL we've developed under heavy levels of scrutiny with code reviews, configuration control, change control boards and frequent interactions with the actual users of the solution we've been able to avoid the typical pitfalls that might come with developing customizations.

Scalability Issues

Developing skilled & experienced specialists that know how to setup DOORS projects and help existing ones adopt best practices takes time and the only way to get real experience is to do it, hard to find the people distributed across the geographical boundaries to fill these roles over prolonged periods of time.

Customer Service and Technical Support

Customer Service:

it's gotten considerably better since the early years of the Telelogic acquisition, once you submit a few tickets you get the hang of it. It would be nice the same person answering all your questions all the time so you get the rapport, but that might be asking too much.

Technical Support:

Once you get into the advanced use cases of using your own DXL, most of the time the support can be handled in house.

Previous Solutions

I started my career with DOORS & DXL and have not looked back. I have helped programs go from SLATE to DOORS.

Initial Setup

It was quite complicated, luckily for me I learned from the best and was able to continue to network and continue learning from the brightest minds in the industry. Combining this with my own experiences and the many clients I have worked with have equated to superb amount of real like challenged faced and overcome.

Implementation Team

Have had vendor in house for very select engagements, mostly self created solutions based on many in house meetings and sound software development.

ROI

A good question... lots of time & money saved.

Pricing, Setup Cost and Licensing

I've been able to bypass this question for the most part in my line of work and focus more on the client experience once the DOORS server & licenses are available.

Other Advice

I absolutely believe for any company to be successful with DOORS they must invest in an in-house support team of architects & trainers who's full time job it is to deploy DOORS and help programs learn how to use it effectively.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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