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How SPECIFY4IT™ Works

The SPECIFY4IT™ approach to specification demands more detail from the analyst than is usual and the checking the toolset undertakes is meticulous. PDT believes the extra effort to obtain correct, consistent and easily understood specifications leads directly to systems that:

This reduces rework to correct errors and misunderstandings, speeds delivery to customers, and produces error-free systems that are reliable and ensure customer satisfaction.

The purpose of a software specification is to define an information system. It outlines the purpose and objectives of the system, and defines the way in which these will be satisfied.

The SPECIFY4IT™ approach to specification has four stages:

The System Model

In the first stage PDT summarises your specification in a business model.

This model:

The icons used in the graphical representation of the model during its preparation include:

Text windows show various aspects of the reasoning process following the entry of each event during the test. It also shows the predicted content of each part of the system database at that point in the test.

A graphics window show an overview of the whole system, with the locally active area highlighted and a more detailed view of the active area so that you can trace the reasoning process if required.

Generation of Running Code

PDT has collaborated with Escher Technologies Ltd (ETL) to provide provable correct code generation. ETL designed a formal specification language, Perfect, to support mathematical proof, and embodied this within the Perfect Developer toolset. We translate a correct specification into the Perfect language and then use the proven code generators within the Perfect Developer toolset to generate immediately executable code.

The user benefit is high reliability and error-free code produced quickly, that matches the specification absolutely.

Other features of SPECIFY4IT™ code generation:

To read more, follow these links:

Issues in IT System Specification

The Future of Software Development

FAQs about SPECIFY4IT

Watch the introductory video




Softbox icons that show individual processes (or process groups)

Arrows show the nature of the information flow (whether information either flows directly or is used only for validation).

The model can be manipulated by inserting or deleting either rows or columns; blocks can also be moved or copied from one part of the diagram to another.

The model can be copied, refreshed, or printed and the magnification changed so more or less of the model is visible at any one time.

On printout, the printout size can be adjusted to fit a single sheet or printed on a number of tiles that can be joined.


It is helpful to both analyst and users to prepare this model at an early stage. The diagram is generated by the tool to ensure that it remains a correct and accurate model of the business throughout the analysis process. The benefit is early identification and correction of any errors; this reduces re-work, and avoids work based on a faulty foundation.

Addition of Detail

Detail is added by completing standard forms. There are a number of different forms so the information provided whenever you complete a new form or amend a current form is stored (in mathematical form) in the specification repository (or knowledge base).

Forms allow you to define data associated with a particular process. Where possible, PDT provides pull-down lists from which users can make selections into the relevant windows. This saves repetitive data entry and precludes possible errors.

There are forms to allow users to represent data and objects, identify functional processing, and define business rules and events. All forms work in the same way: with pull-down lists to minimise typing, relevant buttons to allow selection and other operations as appropriate, and step-forward and step-back functionality to next and previous records.

The data entry part of the workbench does not constrain analysts either in what they enter or in how they choose to organise the entry process. Entry in logical order is not a requirement.

Specification Correctness Checking

The specification can be checked for consistency at any point

Inconsistencies must be corrected before undertaking any further checks

The toolset produces a listing describing any errors

The consistent specification can then be tested for correctness by animating it with example data. The toolset will show the behaviour of the system for any sequence of input events.

The result of testing a small portion of an (incomplete) model is shown below: