Choosing a Blogging Editor or How to write a set of requirements

Most decisions in my life revolve around requirements, I feel so strongly about requirements, that the first Chapter in the book Microsoft Exchange Server 2013: Design, Deploy and Deliver an Enterprise Messaging Solution was dedicated to requirements.

As with most IT Professionals, I’m often asked for my opinion on the “best” phone, laptop, GPS, health band, or anything else with a plug, and often my answer is consultative, i.e. “It depends”, followed by, “what do you NEED it to do?”

Requirements should be at the heart of IT decision making, as opposed to features, tick boxes or Nice-to-haves, since they make decisions defensible against the onslaught of peer pressure, personal doubt, or in business, the person signing for the solution you’re implementing.

How does that relate to finding a Blogging Editor? Again, for me it revolved back to a list of requirements, specifically:

  • WYSIWIG – I’d like to get a good idea of what it looks like before I post it.
  • Formatting – The editor should be able to support, bullets, font changes, etc
  • Desktop based – I don’t like writing in a Browser
  • Offline – I travel a great deal, so I’d like to author while I’m not connected
  • Engine – Needs to support my blogging platform
  • Cost – Less than $100.00

While this is a basic list, It’s enough of  a list to ensure I have a set of criteria to evaluate potential Blog Editors. Having found a number, I found that Windows Live Writer satisfies all my criteria, and it’s free.

While I’m sure that my personal choice of blogging editor means very little to the average person, the point I’m illustrating holds true – most decisions, be they personal or IT related, can be distilled into a set of requirements, which can be evaluated.

Any requirement should be atomic – in other words, it should be a small enough unit that there is a single point of evaluation, with little chance of confusion, notice that my first two criteria fall into this category. I could have combined them, however there was a chance of confusion, so I split them.

Finally, any assumptions need to be qualified as fact or fiction. Often we begin a conversation around the “best” of something, e.g. what the best phone on the market – and without qualifying criteria, such as form factor, battery life, screen resolution, application ecosystem etc, it’s impossible to make a blanket statement, however it is possible to defend your personal purchasing decision, unless you succumbed to peer pressure and bought the “best” phone.

When deploying Exchange, Office 365, a public or private cloud, or anything else that requires thought and planning, the base of your deployment should begin with a clear set of articulated requirements, which can be evaluated, are atomic and qualified.

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