Things We're Thinking About

Using Spreadsheets to Maintain S1000D Business Rules

There’s a trend emerging with respect to creating S1000D Business Rules, and for a couple of solid reasons, I’d like to see it nipped in the bud. The trend I am referring to is storing business rules in an Excel Spreadsheet. Why is this a bad idea you ask? I’ll give you a couple of reasons:

First, storing business rules in an Excel file renders the business rule completely useless if you wish to reuse it for anything else at any point in the future. The OBVIOUS reuse opportunity is the generation of BREX rules. BREX rules are derived directly from your business rules. As such, is it not the most technically and analytically sound decision to have your BREX rules literally derived from your business rules?

If you store your business rules in an application that is capable of reusing them, you immediately gain the following advantages:

  1. You don’t have to write a BREX document…that’s right, you don’t have to write a bunch of XPath statements or pay somebody a boatload of money to do it for you.
  2. You can link business rules to BREX rules. Then, when your business rule changes, your BREX rule is changed and all you have to do is press the “go” button to generate a new BREX document.

My second reason for wanting to do away with maintaining S1000D Business Rules in a spreadsheet has to do with the concept of “layered” Business Rules. Right now, entities such as the Air Force, Army, and Naval Aviation Departments are creating business rules. Individual programs will want to use those rules as a baseline and also create their own rules that further define their policies and guidelines with respect to S1000D. And guess what? They’ll probably want to see and use other programs’ and departments’ rules as well. The more columns that are added to a spreadsheet, the more unreadable it becomes. And, adding a new column does nothing if a group wants to actually use a business rule from another source.

I wrote up a white paper that dives further into this topic. It can be downloaded from White Papers.

-Rick Schochler


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