Re: IEEE hardware specification standards

Subject: Re: IEEE hardware specification standards
From: "Ned Bedinger" <doc -at- edwordsmith -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 16 Mar 2004 23:59:29 -0800

IEEE has countless proceedings and other pubs. I
doubt you'll be able to find just one that covers
Hardware Specification, because they do that kind
of thing for such a tremendous variety of specific
hardware, from circuit boards to Co-Design of
Hardware/Software for Evolvable Systems. I
suggest you ask the project team engineers what
specific standards are involved, and then see what
you can find at the IEEE Online Catalog & Store :

You'll probably need to join IEEE and one or more
specific SIG to get access to the complete text of
the standards. But then again, you can google the
IEEE # and can often come up with something. And
you might ask the project team engineers for a
login at IEEE (they might resist because of the
membership cost for you), or else ask someone with
IEEE membership to download the standards you

I envy you and I don't. IEEE Standards are among
the most systematic and thought-out technical
information you'll ever see committed to paper.
EEs get certification in some of these standards.
But, in the wrong hands the standards can be used
to produce the most misguided documentation
imaginable. I've worked within the IEEE
Std.830-1998 (Software Requirements
Specification)--it is generic enough to be an
edified template-- just follow the methodology,
and you'll produce a mighty fine requirements
document. On the other hand, I once worked with a
bit-twiddler/code slinger who used 830 to write
requirements for signal proccesing
hardware/software. The manager of this project,
once she saw what the developer was doing with the
specification, realized that they were going to
need a technical communicator's help. The first
draft was already written, so they hired me to
edit it. It was a developmental editor's
nightmare, in spite of following the IEEE 830
Requirements, because this developer had done an
information dump, with no practical analysis and
scoping of what needs to go into just * software
requirements*. The draft I got was a
megalomaniacal attempt to scope everything from
Business Requirements to Software Design to
Service Level Support agreements with specific
customers, interspersed with interface and
function requirements.

So anyway, while I do envy you the chance to work
within an IEEE framework, I am also glad not to
have to sort out the half-assed analysis that goes
into some specifications. Working to IEEE
standards makes you realize just how much work
goes into planning a REAL engineering project. In
software, engineers often have some intellectual
training in the skills needed to do this, but none
I have ever worked with have the experience, much
less the budget, for doing things that way.

Another interesting one is Std. 1063 (IEEE
Standard for Software User Documentation).

Good Luck, and if you get an actual Standard to
work with, how about posting some examples of how
it is a different language. My experience is that
it is a marvel of conciseness, but perhaps your
hardware requirements are more complex than the
environmental controllers and sensory equipment
that my mad scientists lashed up.

Ned Bedinger
doc at edwordsmith dot com
Edwordsmith Technical Communications Co.
http://www dot edwordsmith dot com
tel: 360-434-7197
fax: 360-769-7059

----- Original Message -----
From: "Daniel Fisher"
<davidsmoothington -at- yahoo -dot- com>

> I might become involved in a project to document
> hardware specifications using IEEE standards.


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IEEE hardware specification standards: From: Daniel Fisher

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