BrainStorm is a free-form
multi-level list manager with hidden power and grace. Its simple approach belies
its great ability to support easy management of large quantities of textual information
from many different sources (the Web, emails, word processor documents, pdfs and so on).
BrainStorm can be applied to many stages of the software development cycle to great effect
At the analysis stage of any project the information is coming in from many sources.
While it is important to maintain a structured view of proceedings, that's not always
possible or convenient. With BrainStorm you can capture information how you like. You
can structure it or just jam it in as it happens. An important benefit of BrainStorm
is that you can sort your accumulated notes out when it suits you.
You can take notes from interviews conducted by third parties and, especially if
they are already in a word processor, paste them across to BrainStorm. You can also
look up additional materials on the corporate system or the internet and 'Magic paste'
them into your growing portfolio. With BrainStorm, nothing gets lost or overlooked, and
it lets you work the way you think
When planning and organising a project, any project, you need to master the
details of all the activities, resources and timescales. BrainStorm will help you
assemble and organise and keep tabs on all the project information. While it will not
produce a Gantt chart for you, it does enable you to do all the preparatory work in
BrainStorm's structure lends itself well to system and program design. You can work with
the big picture, the major functional elements, yet plunge ever deeper into the finer
detail of individual procedures. You can export all or part of your BrainStorm model
into your preferred coding environment providing the basis for your program
documentation, as well as a cleanly structured and indented guide to what needs to
Writing pseudo-code is a recognised way to plan the logical flow of software
procedures and functions. Brainstorm allows you to structure your psuedo-code at
multiple levels of complexity and to arrange the logic at will. You can plan your
object class structures in the versatile BrainStorm environment which lets you think
the way you want to think.
A BrainStorm-based plan facilitates project management. It lends itself
well to ad hoc annotation. It can automatically paste in the date and time of new
entries, while its 'namesake' feature lets you whizz round all the updates for any
given date. It keeps a permanent record of progress and, by looking at the outline
view, you can quickly spot areas of inactivity.
(A namesake, by the way, is an entry identical to one that already exists in
your BrainStorm model. They are automatically hyperlinked and share the same set of
descendants. This means that all the information you have stored on a particular
subject is instantly accessible. Navigation between namesakes is instant.
Tracking changes and bugs
You can track program design changes, storing them in context, maybe in
special colours, so that you can see at a glance which parts of the project are
suffering from excessive change. By assigning people's names to the changes, you
can quickly trace the change record for each individual. Most importantly, you
keep on top of the project and all the changes, in context and with instant links
to related (by context, by time or by person) activities.
All projects need a bug-reporting and tracking mechanism. Just like
changes, as the bug reports come in, they can be dropped into the appropriate
part of the development model, complete with conversations and/or emails. As the
bugs are fixed, the originator can be notified and the testing cycle resumed. Use
the Find command, navigate the namesake links or use Aerial view to keep tabs on
every detail of your project.
BrainStorm facilitates teamwork, even when team members are separated by
time or distance. Teams can collaborate very effectively with BrainStorm. The best
way is to let each person contribute to the project planning model in their own
colour. The project leader can merge the contributions of the team, yet still
clearly see who contributed what, and act accordingly. Once a round of feedback is
in, the model can have its colours stripped and then be sent out again for further
comment. In this way it's very easy to spot the new suggestions.
Documentation is probably the least favourite job of any developer.
Well, here again, BrainStorm makes it easier. You can throw everything in and sort it
out later. Program design can be thrown in, user questions, amendments made, case
studies and usage examples can all be captured from wherever they happen to be. When
you think you've captured everything you can use BrainStorm's powerful organisation
commands to give the work structure. A quick export to your preferred word processor,
or help development environment and you are ready to give the words their final polish.