Birds Project
Bird Man, a painting by artist Lynn Rothan



Do178Builder is a free software tool which helps to structure the software-development effort in such a way that documentation -- and particularly DO-178B documentation -- is a natural product of the project rather than a time-consuming after-thought.  Versions of Do178Builder exist for Win32 and for Linux.  Source-code is provided, so it may be possible to compile it for other platforms as well.

Do178Builder is tailored for production of DO-178B documentation, but is not limited to that use.   DO-178B forces one to ask (and answer) many questions about the development effort, and this is valuable regardless of whether the software is targeted for airborne use or not.  The answers to the questions are useful documentation.

What Do178Builder does is to structure the development effort into an outline format, in which only information relevant to the particular development phase (or "process", in the terminology of DO-178B) is provided in that phase.  Upon progressing to later phases of development, additional outline levels open up, and new information must be provided.  In this way, one begins with a vague requirement, progresses to more detailed design concepts, and ultimately to test cases.

At the completion of the development, Do178Builder is capable of rearranging the various outline elements into complete DO-178B documents.

Because the development is structured, Do178Builder is capable of automatically providing all traceability information -- i.e., that the design is traceable to the requirements and the test cases are traceable to the design.  Furthermore, Do178Builder can tailor all of this (on-screen displays and generated documents) to pre-selected DO-178B software levels.

Do178Builder is at a very early stage of development, so it has some rough edges.  It may still be profitably used, however, depending upon your expectations.  Please note that the Win32 version is likely to be buggier than the Linux version, since I personally am only interested in running the Linux version.

Output Format(s)

The DO-178B documents produced by Do178Builder are in DocBook format.  DocBook files can automatically be transformed to Postscript, PDF, HTML, or RTF by generally-available free tools.


By the way, Do178Builder requires 800×600 resolution or higher in your video display, and the higher the better.  Since the target audience consists of airborne-software developers, this doesn't seem like a bad restriction.

Main editing screen

Above you see the main editing screen.  In this view, the outline is completely collapsed.  You can keep your view of the dataset simple by expanding just the items you are interested in at your stage of the development effort. The items are arranged roughly in the order that they appear in DO-178B, but also roughly in an ordering that I think is logical (and useful) for the developer.

Expanded outline.

Above you see a data outline, expanded several levels deep.  The area at the bottom of the screen shows a hint derived from (my) reading of DO-178B, telling you what information needs to be filled in at the highlighted outline item.  The name of this item, which is used as a section header in the DO-178B documents themselves, can be edited if desired.  The actual data for the item is filled in on the right-hand side of the screen, and becomes the text of the section when printed out.  Various markup, such as emphasis or use of source-code fixed-width font, can be added as well.  Along the far right is shown the list of DO-178B documents in which this section will appear.  Underneath this area is an indication of the applicable DO-178B "control category".

Sample PSAC

Here is a sample PSAC document created by Do178Builder.  For other sample documents and sample Do178Builder datasets, click here.

Remember:  Do178Builder does not produce content or formatting style, but merely helps to organize.  In the case of this sample document, I provided the content; this is an early draft of the PSAC for a non-existent software library,  libBirds, that is used to illustrate the use of Do178Builder.  The libBirds dataset for Do178Builder is the same as the one shown in the screenshots above.   (Note also that the libBirds project as described in the PSAC is unqualifiable, according to my DER, so please don't take any of the ideas expressed there very seriously.)  The formatting style is very slightly modified from the default DocBook stylesheets on my Linux system.  But actual developers would probably change the style-sheets to make their own documents look quite different.

This page was last modified by Ron Burkey on 11/10/03. Contact the Birds Project.