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Backwards Compatibility

Point raised at Working Party meeting  8 April 2003 , for discussion on the website. 

During the discussion of the definition of Compatibility, we realised that we had excluded from the agreed definition the concept of “Backwards Compatibility”.

Example of backwards compatibility - When sharing documents between an earlier and later version of a word processor, one is able to open an earlier version file in the later version, and then save the file back to the earlier version. 

Is this: -

1.        a separate non-functional area which needs to be added to the matrix

2.        part of one of the non functional areas already on the matrix

3.        or an overarching requirement which contains elements of several non-functional areas?


Examples we raised which might have an element of backward compatibility included:


§          Portability – the ability to port back to a previous version of a platform (hardware, system software) – can we port forward and port back?

§          Installability – the ability to de-install as well as install – is there a limit on how long it is before one can de-install an upgrade, and will data input in the new version be available still in the old version after de-install?

§          Conversion – the ability to convert data in order to share it between people using different versions of a system

§          Usability – the ability to support the users carrying out their tasks and sharing information without them having to worrying about what version of their desktop software each has

§          Maintainability – the ability to maintain more than one version of commonly used software across an organisation


In order to resolve this, it would be useful to receive via the feedback form:

§          Your definition or understanding of backwards compatibility

§          Whether you consider it a separate non functional area

§          Whether you consider it to be part of one of the non-functional areas already on the matrix

§          Whether you consider it to be an overarching requirement needing several different non-functional tests.


Thank you for your help.

Comment from Paula Cope Backwards Compatibility - is this not just another example of Compatibility testing? I'm not sure that this should be a separate non-functional area.

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