To implement the Shell Method

Everybody has their favorite set of tools. We've become rather jaded over time. There's always something neater coming up Real Soon Now.

"From the ultra professional end of things, but at realistic prices, John is putting to work the principles of Function Points and software engineering... brought down to common man prices from the stratosphere of Pentagon practices."

If you want advice on what CASE tool to use, what development environment is superior (today), what database to use and so forth, check out the newsgroups and online software reviews. Enjoy the flame wars. We focus on giving you the ability to quickly generate the documentation that supports and uses those tools. And without further ado...

MS Office (or compatible software) for generation of documents

Why all this Microsoft stuff? Because virtually every other Mac, PC or Unix/Linux office productivity tool can read the appropriate MS file format. It's the closest thing to a broad-spectrum standard for document composition we've got these days.

Note: All of this stuff is in Office 2000-2003 format.

  • MS Word for templating and production of each document.

  • Excel for checklists, logs and number crunching (like table loading calculations), sometimes for tables (the document kind, not the database kind).

  • PowerPoint for requirements elicitation, status briefings and training presentations. Each template set has presentation templates that you can use to brief your clients (and your team) on how you'll be doing things, as well as templates designed to elicit specific classes of requirements.

  • MS Project for WBS, scheduling, and estimating. All the "big" project management tools can suck up a Microsoft Project file without a hiccup, if you need to integrate your project with someone else's larger effort.

  • MS Visio for diagramming. Visio can help you quickly diagram darn near anything. The latest version has wizards that can even extract database schemas. It's the closest thing you can come to a CASE tool without spending kilobucks.

Adobe Acrobat for distribution, review, and commenting

In our not-so-humble opinion, e-matter wasn't really viable until Adobe came along and dumped the millions of dollars necessary to make Acrobat the de facto standard in electronic document distribution. Now that we have a standard, and that standard supports digital signatures, markup, and commenting. Acrobat allows us to walk through the entire document review and approval cycle online, which makes things go much faster and easier.

A source control system

Concurrent Version System (CVS) and SubVersion are free. They work well. They have GUI clients that are also free. They have issue management systems that tie directly to them, and some of those are free as well. There's no excuse anymore, and they'll save your butt many times.