What the Heck is a Living Spec?

Living Spec is a platform that takes your project, product, or business organization to spec-tacular levels! 🎉 Living Spec not only helps you keep track of the results of your product or project as it grows, it also gives you a centralized place for your team to record key decisions, stay on top of complexity, and have engaging conversations.

The way it does this is through the creation of a flexible and enhanced document tree called a living spec. You can think of a living spec as being a reflection of your organization’s collective brains all joined together, starting from the smallest spec-k and growing and adapting with your team. But what exactly is a Living Spec, and why is it so…spec-tacular? 😂 Put on your spec-tacles to learn more!

Multi-Purpose Document and Collaboration Tool

Imagine a document that grows with your ideas, projects, and company, all without the hassle of constant manual updates and reorganization. Enter the spec, a flexible and enhanced document that adapts to your evolving needs. Living Specs are not your average Word or Google documents; they are dynamic and can be as small as a one-pager or as expansive as an entire company's information and knowledge hub.

But what makes a Living Spec truly spec-ial?🤦🏼‍( Now we're really stretching it)

It's the seamless growth and effortless organization Living Spec offers as your ideas come to life. With Living Spec, updating, reorganizing, and tracking information becomes a breeze. That’s because everything in Living Spec is built around making the process of updating, reorganizing, and keeping track of information simple, intuitive, and efficient. For the purpose of understanding the different features, let’s approach them through three different per-spec-tives: creativity, management, and productivity.

Supporting Your Creative Process: From Messy Brainstorms to Structured Brilliance

Every business, project, or product begins with a spark of creativity. Those initial brainstorms may be messy, but they often hold hidden gems of genius. A first brainstorm document might look something like this:

Early messy ideas

If you’re working with Living Spec, you can easily shape these messy brainstorm docs through time as your ideas develop. Within your spec, you can sort out your priorities, create and assign tasks, and reiterate your ideas while referencing content from external sources. You have access to a graphical context that helps you track all your connected ideas spread out on different pages. You can see all the tasks assigned to you across specs directly from your dashboard.

Here are a few nifty features that will help you turn those initial creative brainstorms into structured brilliance.

1. Highlight Your Way to New Pages

Simply highlight a word or sentence to transform it into its own page in one click. The hierarchy of your spec instantly adjusts, and the highlighted words appear with a page icon. No more tedious file creation and copy/pasting, just spec-tacular idea development!

Highlight to create new page

2. Effortlessly Manage File and Image References

As your project expands, so does the need for files and images in your spec. Rather than manually replacing every instance of a file, Living Spec offers an efficient solution. Update a single reference, and all related references to that file or image will update automatically. This time-saving feature keeps everyone on the same page, preventing communication mishaps.

This is also true for our bidirectional integrations, such as our Figma integration. If you embed a Figma file into your Spec, all instances of that reference will be updated each time there are changes made to the external file.

Seamlessly replace a file while retaining cross-references

3. Import Content From Email in a Spec-tacular Blink

We’ve all been there: we’re talking to someone about our business or project and that person gives us amazing ideas to reflect on, or good resources and references to check out. What’s the easiest way to remind ourselves to look into it later while the conversation is still going? We grab our phones and send ourselves an email containing these precious nuggets of information.

There are a ton of situations when we end up with precious information in our email that should be integrated somewhere in our main information database. Instead, that information often gets lost in the depths of our inboxes. But those days are now over! Living Spec allows you to parse content directly from your email to your spec.

  • Open your Spec and navigate to the page where you’d like your email content to be added.
  • Click on the Page icon in the right sidebar.
  • Click on Copy Email Link
  • Go to your email inbox and forward the email you want to parse in your spec to the email address you just copied to your clipboard.

Done! Give it a minute and soon you’ll see the content of your email parsed directly on the spec page where you copied the email link.

Seamless email parsing into Living Spec

Managing your project and your teams

Now, let’s fast-forward a few months and imagine this initial brainstorm became a concrete product under development. As the manager overseeing different teams, you need a bird's-eye view of your project's status, tasks, and updates. Enter some of Living Spec's powerful features:

1. The Context Diagram: See the Big Picture

Living Spec's context diagram provides an advanced and powerful overview of your spec's pages, relationships, and tasks. It's like wearingspec-tacles revealing the entire landscape of your project. Quickly access specific pages or tasks, view assigned team members, and gain valuable insights—all in one place. There are a few ways to access this diagram:

  • By clicking on Context on the main sidebar menu on the left
  • By viewing a minimized version of it on the Context tab on the right sidebar for Document, Page, or File
  • By clicking on the Open link once you’re in the Context tab
Automatically generated context diagram

This Context diagram also uses a color coding system for displaying tasks in priority order. That way, you know exactly where priorities are at a glance. Additionally, you can customize the diagram’s filtering options depending on the information you wish to see. Clicking on any box in the Context diagram quickly takes you to the exact place this reference was made in your spec, whether it’s a specific page or a task.

If it’s a task, you’ll get all the information related to it by clicking on the corresponding tab:

  • A general overview including task description and assignees
  • All the places in your spec referencing that task
  • The comments connected to that task
  • The latest activity on that task

The bigger the project, the more spec-tacular the context diagram becomes! For example, here’s what our own context diagram for Living Spec looks like:

Tasks within context

2. Main Dashboard: Your Command Center

Living Spec’s main dashboard gives you a complete overview of everything that’s going on across all your different specs. This is particularly useful if you’re involved in different teams, or if you manage a variety of projects simultaneously. Besides showing you all the different specs you’ve created or are a part of, the dashboard allows you to:

  • See all your tasks at a glance on the Task tab in the right sidebar, as well as where this task is located and in which spec
  • View and download any exterior file that’s been embedded in any of your specs
  • Bookmark important pages in your specs and have access to all your bookmarks in one place on the Bookmarks tab
  • Quickly access the context of any spec in the Context tab by choosing the spec you’d like to view in the dropdown menu

This means you can have the full picture of everything you’re working on in one convenient place.

Early messy ideas

Reaching the Finish Line: Prioritizing Efficiency and Productivity

As the release of your product approaches, maximizing efficiency becomes crucial. Whether you have a team of creatives or productivity-driven individuals, Living Spec has got you covered. Here are some practical ways to boost productivity:

1. Shortcuts: Unleash Your Speed

Why navigate menus when you can harness the power of keyboard shortcuts? Living Spec offers a plethora of shortcuts to access features quickly. For example:

  • Typing the pound symbol (#) will give you quick access to a bunch of features, from creating a new task or page to inserting a file reference
  • Typing the @ symbol quickly allows you to tag someone.

2. Snippets: Efficiency at Your Fingertips

For teams with recurring types of entries like issue tickets or release notes, Living Spec introduces a spec-tacular feature:snippets. These reusable templates provide a structured format for entering information, saving time and maintaining consistency without any extra effort on your part. Say goodbye to repetitive typing and hello to streamlined productivity. To create a snippet, simply highlight some text that represents the kind of snippet you’d like to create and then click on the Create Snippet icon. You’ll then be prompted to give your new snippet a title and optional description and keywords. Once your snippet is created, you can access it and edit it from your dashboard by clicking on the Snippets tab.


There's More to Discover

We've only scratched the surface of what Living Spec has to offer. From third party integrations to exciting features in development leveraging AI, there's a world of possibilities waiting for you.

Curious to give Living Spec a try? Start today on the free plan, play around with the example specs we provide for you, and upgrade to a paid plan only when you’re ready.

Put on your spec-tacles and embark on a spec-tacular journey with Living Spec. It's time to put your brain in the clouds and revolutionize the way you and your team work.

Sign Up to Get Early Access

Start using Living Spec for free and try it out with a few people on your team. Upgrade to a paid plan only when you're ready.
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