An introductory course on Software Engineering

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Course project: Requirements & Team Policies


Establish a solid definition of your project from which to base a design and implementation. You will write a document that describes the goals of your project, its functional and non-functional requirements, and the processes your team will follow to implement it. This is the first iteration of a living document, and you’ll be asked to update it during the development cycle.


Work with your newly-assigned project teams.

Create a shared living document. (We recommend a Google doc, or a Markdown or LaTex document in a shared repository.) The majority of your technical writing will go in to this document, and when a milestone is due you will make a snapshot (PDF) of this document and upload to Canvas.


Produce the first version of your living document with the following sections.

1. Team info & policies (10%)

Provide a concise summary of the project team and project artifacts. Specifically:

2. Product description (20%)

Use the product description of the project proposal as a starting point. Revise it based on feedback you received so far, and incorporate it into this section. Additionally, add the following to this section:

The major features should constitute a minimal viable product (MVP).

3. Use Cases (Functional Requirements) (30%)

Each team member must come up with and describe at least one use case of your product, following this template:

  1. Actors
  2. Triggers
  3. Preconditions
  4. Postconditions (success scenario)
  5. List of steps (success scenario)
  6. Extensions/variations of the success scenario
  7. Exceptions: failure conditions and scenarios

(At the end of this step you will have at least one use case per team member.)

4. Non-functional Requirements (10%)

Describe at least three non-functional requirements, e.g., related to scalability, usability, security and privacy, etc.

5. External Requirements (10%)

In addition to the requirements stated above, the course staff imposes the following requirements on your product:

Make sure that these requirements, if applicable to your product, are specialized to your project and included in your document—do not copy and paste these requirements verbatim. You may leave this as a separate section or fold its items into the other requirements sections.

6. Team process description (20%)

Describe your quarter-long development process.

Export a PDF snapshot of your document named PorjectName-m2.pdf and submit it to Canvas by due date EOD (Check Calendar).

(Yes, 12:00am of following day is a late submission :))

Clarifications and FAQs

How much should we say about the software toolset we will use?

What programming languages, data sources, project trackers, and other tools will you use? What, if any, software components will you attempt to use “off the shelf” versus implementing them from scratch? Explain why you chose these tools and languages, as well as why they are suitable for your project.

It is OK to establish some of the answers during the requirements engineering stage and others during the design stage. It is also OK of some of these change as you continue working on the project.

What is a team member “role”?

A role describes the part of the project (or a set of tasks) a team member is responsible for. You can refine these roles as you continue to work on your project and you are free to change them as you go forward. It is important, however, to justify your current decisions.

Here are two examples for defining roles:

  1. A typical web application project could have roles of: 2-3 backend engineers, 1-2 frontend engineers, and 1-2 engineers in charge of UI design (probably in addition to being frontend or backend engineers).

  2. A data analysis project could have roles of: 1-2 people responsible for data collection and storage, 1-2 people responsible for data analysis and visualization, and 1-2 people responsible for infrastructure and automation.

What if we want to commercialize our project idea?

Your group will collectively own its own work. If you think you may want to commercialize your project, you may want to consult early with a legal source. A resource on campus is Comotion.

Any advice regarding writing?

Plausibility, thoughtfulness, and level of detail will largely determine the score for this assignment. For example, generic or incomplete use cases often lead to deductions. You should choose and clearly describe substantial use cases that are important to the core functionality of your product. You should also list a reasonable set of steps in the various scenarios that can occur in these use cases. Make sure to not omit important steps or details. Make sure that the state of the system at the end of any path through the use case matches what the use case claimed is the final state.

Your documents must be clear and professional. This means they should be concisely written, with proper spelling and grammar, clear wording, and formatted with supporting structure to present your ideas clearly to the reader.

You are developing a living document, which means you should expect change requests and iterations.

Is there a minimum or maximum number of pages?

No, grading focuses on completeness and proper writing (clarity and conciseness). As with all writing, technical or otherwise, you want to completely address each thing that needs to be addressed (in this case, requirements) while expressing it concisely and clearly enough to be understandable and largely free of redundancy.