Electronic documentation that is intuitive and highly searchable gives software engineers the ability to quickly find the information they need, allowing them to do their jobs more effectively. Recognizing this, NASA is implementing its NASA Strategic Plan objectives in part by moving forward aggressively with intelligent content publishing to increase staff productivity. The Agency PAL supports this objective.
Current Process Asset Library (PAL) capabilities are centered on a collection of folders arranged in hierarchical fashion. Folder topics are searchable to help the user quickly locate content related to the user's need.
(The intent behind future implementation updates to the Agency PAL is to install an information system that is database driven, that includes defined mechanisms to access the assets, and that allows the website to be dynamically delivered via updates to the information system (database)).
The Agency PAL was established and is managed to satisfy two primary goals, as follows:
- Provide a repository of software engineering assets.
- Encourage sharing of these assets within the Agency.
The main types of information that reside on the site include:
- Products: Documents (Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and Excel, and Adobe pdf) plus handbooks, checklists, reports, presentations, proceedings, course materials, tools, worksheets, tool catalogs, metrics repositories).
- Usage note: Products may be released or be up for revision.
- Training note: Check the PAL for future related online training.
- Special Topics, such as the Software Engineering Institute's Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI).
- Information that supports the Continuous Improvement Subgroup of the NASA Software Working Group.
- Usage metrics information. (See the NASA Community of Practice leader if you have a need or use for the accumulated statistics on usage of the PAL).
Training and help for the users of the Agency PAL are vital if the Agency PAL is to be a successful and useful tool. Capabilities in this regard include the following:
- Training. Agency PAL training can be provided for domain owners, users, and maintainers.
- Web page specific help is provided to assist the user via the NEN Editor's contact mechanism at the bottom of the web page.
- Upload and management of file help is available with an account (currently held by Center representatives to the NASA Software Working Group):
- Upload and Describe Asset.
- Classify Asset.
- Send for Approval.
- Notified of Results.
- Prepare asset for NASA PAL.
- Up load a file from your computer.
- Reference a resource on the web.
- Provide asset unique name.
- Selecting keywords for an asset
The following entries provide key notes about the Agency PAL and its format. Additional information is available from the "NASA PAL Rqts 71.14.04" document on file in the OCE.
- The implementation of the Agency PAL is based on Commercial Off the Shelf (COTS) products such as database engines, web publishing tools, etc.
- Legacy PALs may remain in place as 'heritage' asset libraries, but their assets are envisioned to be migrated to the Agency PAL. Migrated assets may require some rework to assure compatibility.
- The Agency PAL will not contain classified information.
- The Agency PAL will be available to any individual having access to internal NASA websites. Access to specific assets will be restricted based on information protection requirements of asset owners at Centers/projects, and any other applicable data security regulations as documented herein.
- The Agency PAL will not guarantee hyperlinks contained in the content of assets (i.e., the text of an asset contains a hyperlink), or support hyperlinks into the content of assets (i.e. the ability to hyperlink to a specific paragraph of a PAL asset). Both of these features are viewed as non-essential, and require levels of technology and maintenance disproportionate to their merits.
- The Agency PAL will not guarantee tools, simulations, and related assets. Such assets are "use at your own risk," so the user is encouraged to investigate the tool thoroughly (via point-of-contact information) before use. Also, the Agency PAL's feedback mechanisms (comments, ratings) will help those who use a tool to pass their experiences on to other prospective users.