User sourced competency questions for software

Card sorting competency questionsFollowing our first SWO workshop in Manchester we performed several exercises to garner requirements and test cases. Below is a complete list of the competency questions collected to guide the engineering of the Software Ontology. Competency questions are questions that an ontology should be able to answer in order to satisfy use cases, and therefore act as initial requirements and, later, as test cases to validate the ontology is built as it should be (in case you are wondering, there are 91 in total). The categories are loosely organised and not fixed.

Use/ Function

What is the algorithm used to process this data?

What are the alternatives to this software?

What other alternatives are there?

Which of the named and published “algorithms” does this tool use?

Are there any modification to the algorithm the tool uses?

Does this software provide XML editing?

What type of software (API, Desktop application etc) is it?

What software can perform task x?

Is it appropriate software for my task?

What are the primary inputs and outputs?

Is this software available as a web service?


(+ Cost + function) Which visualisation software is there for this data and what will it cost?

What software works best with my dataset?

Does it do what I want or need it do data e.g. render a gif?

Which software tool created this data?

What software can I use my data with to support my task?

What are the input and output formats for this software?

(+ version) What data from person x is analysed with tool y, version z?

What software can read a .cel file?

What are the export options for this software?

What is the valid input for this software?

Can this software export from its proprietary data format to an open format such as csv, txt?

Can software A work with data that are output from software B?

To what extent does the software support appropriate open standards?

Is this software compatible with x?

(+ licence + life cycle) What open source, maintained software can I use to process these in this format?

Is the output format proprietary?

Can I render it if the software supplier goes out of business?

(+ version) Given input x, what are the data exports for this version?

To what extent does the software support appropriate open standards?


Where can I get the software?

Is there a mailing list?

How do I get help?

How can I get problems fixed?

Are there any active forums discussing its use?

Where do I get updates?


Who developed it?

What is the homepage of the software?

Can we collaborate with developers of software x?

Where can I buy it from?

Source code, location

Which URL can I get it from?

Life cycle

(+ data) Which is the best/fastest/most robust software to read/edit this data?

Does this software meet the ISO-4 standard?

(+ data) Do I know anyone who has used this software or processed this type of data?

How and where has this software been used successfully in the past?

How long has this software been around?

How actively developed is it?

What do others say about the software quality?

How reliable is it?

What software is better for task x given restrictions y?


Who are the potential users of software we develop?

Who else has used tool x today?

How popular is it?


How many settings do I need to know to rerun this analysis?


Is this software available as a web service?

To what extent does the software support appropriate open standards?


What is the version of this software?

What new features are in this version?

What are the differences between versions?

When was the 1.0 version released?


Is the software open source development? Is there a community development?

What license and what is permissiveness?

Is it open source or not?

(+ version) At what point did the license type change?

Who owns the copyright?

What is the licensing history?

How many license do we need to run it productively?

Is it FOSS?

Do I need a password/license key to use it?

Cost of ownership

Does cost of using it make sense for my project? Is it cost effective?

Is it free or not?

What level of expertise is required?


Are there any usage examples/test data/screen shots/videos?

Is there any and where?

Does it have a tutorial?

Where is the documentation?

Where’s the documentation?

How well documented is the software for developers?

How do I cite the software?

Is there a publication with it?


Is it scriptable?

Is it extensible?

How can I extend the software to include a new function?

Can I use some components of the software for my software?


What hardware do I need to run this software?

What graphics card does this software require?


In what language was it implemented?


What platform does the software run on?

Can I install this on a university computer?

What compiler do I need to compile source code on platform x?

Does it work on 64 bit windows?

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5 Responses to User sourced competency questions for software

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