Opinion: DOORS 9

Last week Telelogic sent out a last-minute announcement that they were holding a Webinar detailing features of DOORS 9. According to the hosts of the Webinar, this was one of their biggest Web events yet, with about 200 attendees.

I’ve been holding off on writing my opinion of this seminar for one reason: Telelogic said that they were going to release the seminar for public viewing. I have yet to receive an announcement that they have done so but did find these slides on the forums (thanks guys!)

What’s new in DOORS 9.pdf

DOORS Web Access.pdf

Update: Telelogic finally sent out the link to the Webinar. You can view it here.

It’s obvious to me that DOORS is one of Telelogic’s most popular products. Indeed, it seems to me that DOORS Is Telelogic’s flagship product. It’s the most popular requirements management software in the world.

And therein lies the problem.

The features announced in the above slides were, for the most part, underwhelming.

In the webinar, Richard Wilson spent a bit of time detailing a single sign-on for multiple DOORS databases using Telelogic Directoy Server (TDS). I can see how this can be a nice thing. If a company has multiple DOORS databases, users only need to be created one time and they can have their passwords synchronized across databases automatically.

Rather than being a feature of DOORS 9, it seems to me to be a feature of TDS. And it’s a nice feature, and it was likely very complex to code and implement…but is there *really* a need for it?

If they polled DOORS users and administrators asking “What feature would you most like to see in DOORS,” my guess is a single sign-on would not be high on that list. Again, it’s nice to have, but it’s not must-have.

They also showed off some sort of integration between Microsoft’s IDE team development environment, Team Foundation Server and DOORS. This is nice, but I have not yet worked in an MS development shop that used DOORS.  For those that do, I’m sure this is positive. After demoing this, Richard Wilson announced that it would be released for free, and then apologized for this, saying he didn’t like announcing things like that. I am hoping he simply misspoke, as free is generally good.

The last thing that was demonstrated was what some of you know as ALFRED (which, incidentally, is one of the worst project codenames I have ever heard). DOORS 9.0 will feature a Web interface.

The person who was demoing this basically admitted that Telelogic has done nothing to improve DOORSNet since it was initially developed 8 years ago. He didn’t say that outright, it was something more like, “Since we developed DOORSNet 8 years ago, the Web has drastically changed.” Meaning, DOORSNet has not.

For those that haven’t ever used DOORSNet, it is an interface for DOORS to publish Web pages and it looks like it came straight from 1997. I evaluated DOORSNet for a company that had purchased a license for it, and we decided that even though we paid for it, that DOORSNet was nowhere near enterprise-ready. But I digress….

Anyhow, DOORS 9.0 will ship with a Web component, and details of how that Web component will work are pretty scarce right now. They didn’t go into how the server topology would work or anything like that. They did demo DOORS and a new discussion type feature that would work with both the Web and software clients. But editing of requirements in DOORS won’t likely happen for at least another year.

This is a good step forward, but still underwhelming.

In this day and age of huge product announcements, Telelogic needs to get on the ball, and they need to start listening to what their user base wants instead of what their internal marketing team wants. Case in point–they have to figure out pricing for DOORSNet users who will want to be able to edit requirements in the Web interface. Translation: Web editing is going to cost extra. Further, Web editing is going to dilute some of the need for DOORS/Traceline, so why not roll Traceline into the basic DOORS implementation?

There will still be no garbage collection for DXL. I’m guessing multi-threading is nowhere near the horizon. And the UI will likely still need to be cleaned up (ex: why is Copy Objects not located within the Edit menu?) Again, there is some ok stuff here, but nothing that I would call a major upgrade.

Finally, I recently attended a webinar devoted to Synergy’s new release. And it was night-and-day compared to the DOORS webinar. They went into very technical details and it was obvious that these improvements to Synergy were something to get excited about.

I would really, really like to get excited about DOORS again. In my opinion, the biggest feature of the past 6 years has been link history, and if you really think about it, it should have been implemented long before that. We just got smooth scrolling last year, and that technology has been around since, what, 1990?

DOORS is long in the tooth and I really hope IBM can push it to where it really needs to be.

There’s always next year, or two years from now, right guys? Maybe DOORS will get some real competition one day and Telelogic will start to sweat. Having nearly no real competition leads to unimaginative product development nearly every time.

13 Comments

  1. Pingback: Database Management » Blog Archive » Opinion: DOORS 9

  2. From what I’ve seen of DOORSNet, the new web access seems to be a good step up from it in visual terms. I know it’d be a wonderful addition to our usage since the read only licenses are cheaper than a DOORS license and we have a group of people who do no editing in DOORS which could be migrated to this tool.

    I was a bit disappointed as well that only a new look, discussions, and the single user feature were the big announcements. Personally I think the current look of 8.3 is fine and this new look seems very Myspace-ish/Macish. I like the simplicity of the current DOORS explorer. I also think this new interface might confuse our users more than the current one.

    Discussions might be useful for more direct and immediate feedback but we’ll see. I think the inability to stop someone from creating/posting discussions is a major flaw that they should implement before release even if that pushes it back.

    I agree that the lack of multi-threading in DOORS and garbage collection in DXL is the biggest gripes I have. It’s hard to write effective tools that slow down over time as the string table builds into a monster. And I should be able to at least view one module while a DXL script executes on another. Last, I really wish they’d improve the smooth scrolling. Currently it only really works if you click on the scroll bar or arrows and scroll that way. It needs to work properly when using the scroll wheel on your mouse. Maybe 9.0 does improve this and they didn’t mention it.

  3. Trigger–Not sure if you are just flaming or what, but I’ll bite for now.

    I disagree with hearing lots of Enterprise people are moving away from DOORS. What you see may be true. Can you give examples? Not companies, but what are they moving to?

    Development wise, DOORS isn’t dead, but it sure seems that way. The new features are nothing great and everything they introduced, including web access and single sign-on should have been introduced years ago.

    Like I said–in this day and age, new product announcements are exciting. Look at Steve Jobs and the MacWorld or WWDC. E3 is going on right now and Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo had nice launches. DOORS gets a webinar with a slide show, no live demo, and ho-hum features.

    I want Telelogic to improve this tool, because after working with some of the others, I know it’s the best one that is widely used. Still, saying that you are the prettiest person in a family of ugly people isn’t a great compliment.

  4. Thank you for the opportunity to elaborate my previous comment. First, I’m not ant-Telelogic nor IBM here. My comment was based on personal feelings and observations I’ve made over the last few years. I agree that DOORS development is still active but to some companies it’s a “dead” product. Parts of NASA that were heavily invested in DOORS have moved onto greener pastures, for example. Siemens and Boeing are other examples that made similar decisions.

    DOORS is a great product for smaller companies, but is no longer an ideal solution for some other companies. Off the top of my head, here are some examples why.

    – The ancient DOORS architecture; if only DOORS XT was released back in the late 90s when is was scheduled to.
    – The total cost of ownership.
    – Lack of Telelogic being active listeners to their customers.
    – Lack of built in features that should be standard. I sometimes think that Telelogic doesn’t use their own application or even understand how their customers use it.

    Kevin, you have asked for some applications that companies have decided to migrate to. Here are some vendors providing solutions that offer a Swiss-army knife of demanded features: Accept Software, MKS, and Siemens PLM group. There is even one company where they built their own in-house solution.

    Hopefully, with the IBM acquisition, DOORS can once again be a competitive application. I am afraid it is too late for some though.

  5. Thank you for elaborating Trigger.

    I totally agree with you about Telelogic not using their own application or understanding how their customers use it. You are 100% right about that.

    When they announced DOORS 8.3’s “send help requests with screenshots/video directly to Telelogic” the very first demand I had was, “they better have a way to disable that.” Someone asked if it could be disabled before I could and Telelogic’s representatives were very confused. Like, “Why on earth would you want to disable that? This is a very cool feature.”

    Ummmm…what about classified requirements? I don’t even want users to accidentally be able to send screenshots to Telelogic. There are security and privacy concerns.

    The thing is, it was unveiled like it was something that everybody in the room would love. It’s obvious that the real reason Telelogic developed it was due to sales/marketing. It’s another way that you can be dependent upon them.

    As an admin, I want my users logging every problem with me. If I can’t solve it, then I’ll ask Telelogic for their support. But nothing should ever leave my company without going through me with regards to DOORS.

    I actually said to myself, “Do they even USE their own software?”

    Still–DOORS people are hard to find, good ones are even harder to find and I still see job postings for DOORS. That being said, I can’t argue with you. It’s priced for really big companies, so it’s not really a great solution for small companies, yet it’s also not the enterprise app that it should be.

  6. I echo you feelings.

    Companies had “reamed” Telelogic about the DOORS 8.3 support request feature. It is a useful feature but totally implemented incorrectly. I even asked the “helpful” Telelogic help-desk how to disable it. A solution was provided that caused me to have to reinstall DOORS. The support desk person it would work without any hitches.

    About every two months, I do go to dice.com, monster.com and other job related job sites and search for the amount of DOORS work out there. The demand is still strong. One feeling I have for the demand reasons is the lack of good documentation that comes with the product. Another reason is the lack of good DXL skills. I always find the best way to mung data (in certain cases) is to export the DOORS data, manipulate it and then (in certain cases) import it back in. DXL is limited, arggh!

  7. I hate to sit on the fence, but I can simpathise with both Kevin and trigger here.

    It’s only today that I have seen the new DOORS9 presentation, and my heart fell once again. To my mind, DOORS is the only serious requirement management tool out there, and as a long time user I find it incredibly simple and intuative. But then I would after 7 years I guess.

    Recently, my company has had a large expansion and recruited many new engineers, many fresh out of university. I find much of my time is spent training users these days, and frequently get looks of disbelief when I expose my cherished DOORS to these guys. They have grown up using Eclipse, or similar applications, vibrant, useable, attractive GIU. If you need a new plug in, just google and download it. (OK, I know Eclipse is a code tool, not requirements, but you get my drift)

    OK, so here is my basic wish list, of course by now I have implemented many of the features with DXL, and had good fun doing it too, but you would think that by now……:

    * Cascading attributes for folder/project
    * Cascading view definitions for folder/project
    * Linkset definitions that point to a folder rather than a particular module (wildcard in the definition?)
    * Link relationship diagram/explorer
    * Multi threading
    * SEARCH !!!! I mean like ‘google’ for DOORS type search.
    * Ability to disable ‘standard’ users messing with view definitions
    * Ability to disable ‘standard’ users creating baselines (eg, assign baseline rights to a certain group definition)

    I shouldn’t complain too much, DOORS has kept my work life interesting for a long time, just because I have to be so creative just to implement the obvious.

    Oh and one more gripe: How many times have you searched a job site for DOORS, to be met with postings for the following:

    * Aluminum doors and windows installation….
    * Get your foot in the door of this great company…
    grrrrrrr

    Kevin, the site is developing nicely, thanks for your work.
    Andrew.

  8. “Oh and one more gripe: How many times have you searched a job site for DOORS, to be met with postings for the following:

    * Aluminum doors and windows installation….
    * Get your foot in the door of this great company…
    grrrrrrr”

    LMAO!!!… I’ve been searching for some new opportunities and I come across that every day.

    I will say though that not all companies are moving away from DOORS, I’ve had at least 3 companies inquire about exporting Requisite Pro requirements into a new DOORS database within the last couple months…..

    I was fairly disappointed with the absence of garbage cleanup and multi-threading as well.

  9. Not to mention when doing a new rollout people who’ve never used DOORS think they are the first to ever come up with the jokes…

    “So you’re the DOORS man!”

    “I already know how to use a door. You just turn the knob…”

    The job thing can SOMETIMES be remedied by searching DXL. But not all companies will even put Telelogic DOORS. Frustrating indeed!

  10. Agree pretty much with of all of the above. Have been working with RequisitePro for the last few months – for all of DOORS sins, all is forgiven, ReqPro is a glossy toy compared to DOORS, the requirements management philosophy, or lack of it, behind ReqPro just amazes me. BTW, Reqpro has only had one major release since 2003 and that was more underwhelming than DOORS 9.0. Hope IBM puts the development resources into DOORS and not ReqPro.

    I agree with Andrew Tagg, the DOORS GUI desperately needs to be brought into the 21st century. Telelogic\IBM need to make it as close to a MSWord and MSExcel experience as possible – that’s what a lot of users are used to and tend to benchmark many other tools on that experience – unfortunate but true. DOORS also desperately needs an interactive logical view of a projects module and link relationships, rather than just the folder\file explorer type view that we’ve had since version 5.

  11. Paul said:

    “DOORS also desperately needs an interactive logical view of a projects module and link relationships, rather than just the folder\file explorer type view that we’ve had since version 5.”

    Careful what you wish for.

    I’ve used RTM on a rather large project and it doesn’t have DOORS’ folder\file explorer view. There were two views–one with just high level projects with a list of documents in them (no folder structure, just a project structure, if that makes sense–in other words, no nested folders) and a “Visio” type view that showed relationships between documents.

    Once you get over 10 documents, that Visio view becomes useless fast. I can’t imagine such a beast on a complex project with hundreds of documents.

    I think there could be a middle ground–folders for navigation with a filterable relationship diagram for viewing relationships.

    Sadly, after seeing DOORS 9, I don’t think any of this is even on the horizon. Telelogic had almost 200 people attend–so the excitement for DOORS is there. And that’s 200 people in the webinar. That doesn’t include people who set up conference rooms like I did. It’s possible that 400-1000 people saw this webinar. And judging by the response here, likely all of them were disappointed.

  12. Kevin Said

    “Once you get over 10 documents, that Visio view becomes useless fast. I can’t imagine such a beast on a complex project with hundreds of documents.”

    This is true – but I’m still green with envy – HW engineers that use Printed Circuit Board (PCB) design SW have enjoyed the ability to convert a rats nest of interlinked components into an ordered PCB layout. Some clever algorthims have been developed to help automate the clean up and keep it cleaned up. Zoom features similiar to those used for on-line maps are used to cater for large layouts. DOORS would only need a fraction of the graphics layout featues that a PCB design tool provides. What I’m trying to say here, is that the graphics technology and algorithms are available now and could be adapted to keep the logical view of a large DOORS project in some sort of order.

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