Illustrating using Examples

 Natural language is ambiguous and context dependent, so any requirements described in natural language are rarely complete. They simply don't provide a full and unambiguous context for development or testing. Developers and testers have to interpret such requirements to produce software and test scripts, and different people might interpret tricky concepts differently. This is especially problematic when something seems obvious but we need domain expertise or knowledge of a particular jargon to understand it fully. Small differences in understanding will produce a large cumulative effect, often causing rework straight after delivery. This causes unnecessary delays. 

Instead of waiting for specifications to be made concrete for the first time in programming language code, successful teams make them concrete by illustrating using examples. They identify and record key examples, typical representative examples for all important classes of functions required to fulfil a specification. Developers and testers often suggest additional examples that illustrate edge cases or particularly problematic areas of the system. This flushes out functional gaps and inconsistencies and ensures that everyone involved has a shared understanding of what needs to be delivered, avoiding rework caused by misinterpretation and translation.

If the system works correctly for all the key examples, we know that it meets the specification we collaboratively agreed on. In fact, key examples effectively define what the software needs to do. They are both the target for development and an objective evaluation criterion to check whether the development is done. If the key examples are easy to understand and communicate, we can replace the requirements with the key examples.