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Software Quality Technology: (Sad) Status Of; (Unapproached) Limits To; (Manifold) Alternatives To

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000131264D
Original Publication Date: 1978-Nov-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Nov-10
Document File: 10 page(s) / 40K

Publishing Venue

Software Patent Institute

Related People

Paul B. Moranda: AUTHOR [+3]

Abstract

Cartoonist Johnny Hart's sequence of B.C. episodes and his brilliant punch line apply to so many human endeavors that it may seem presumptuous to apply them to the present state of software quality. Nonetheless their applicability is clear: the dinosaur is ";the high cost of software,"; the cast comprises the developers of (good, bad, and middling) software metrics and techniques, and the pit is the (abortive) attempt to develop meaningful ways of containing the dinosaur (and the literature describing that attempt is perhaps a measure of the depth of the pit!). The final status is that the cast, which has prepared the product, is just now beginning to realize that an unconscionable amount of effort has been expended to no avail. Worse than this is the fact that the cost of studies on metrics and techniques for improving the quality of software threatens to become, in itself, a new and large sector of the ";cost pie.";

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THIS DOCUMENT IS AN APPROXIMATE REPRESENTATION OF THE ORIGINAL.

This record contains textual material that is copyright ©; 1978 by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. All rights reserved. Contact the IEEE Computer Society http://www.computer.org/ (714-821-8380) for copies of the complete work that was the source of this textual material and for all use beyond that as a record from the SPI Database.

Software Quality Technology: (Sad) Status Of; (Unapproached) Limits To; (Manifold) Alternatives To

Paul B. Moranda

Cartoonist Johnny Hart's sequence of B.C. episodes and his brilliant punch line apply to so many human endeavors that it may seem presumptuous to apply them to the present state of software quality. Nonetheless their applicability is

clear: the dinosaur is "the high cost of software," the cast comprises the developers of (good, bad, and middling) software metrics and techniques, and the pit is the (abortive) attempt to develop meaningful ways of containing the dinosaur (and the literature describing that attempt is perhaps a measure of the depth of the pit!). The final status is that the cast, which has prepared the product, is just now beginning to realize that an unconscionable amount of effort has been expended to no avail.

Worse than this is the fact that the cost of studies on metrics and techniques for improving the quality of software threatens to become, in itself, a new and large sector of the "cost pie."

The chances are poor that any real remedies will be made in the process of trying to contain the dinosaur, and all the evidence leads me to believe that the pit will get deeper. The institutionalization of this pit-digging is evidenced by the proliferation of conferences on software engineering (that, incidentally, have nothing to do with engineering), by the formation of professional journals and special interest groups, and (worse) by the funding of undirected and essentially uncoordinated research by government agencies.

There are too many people (and airlines, hotels, and restaurants) who (which) benefit from conferences, too many academicians who have found a virgin field for publications, and too many jobs in government and industry which now depend on ``improving" software, for anyone to hope that there will be much real improvement in the approach to the problem. (A ray of hope -- when I was in Atlanta in May at the International Conference on Software Engineering I overheard one of the conference leaders say that there was a feeling that the next conferences should be spaced at greater than 11/2-year intervals. l would opt for a decade.)

At the 1978 Spring COMPCON in San Francisco, l presented a paper (titled almost the same as this one) to a session on system measurement techniques, chaired by Dr. Ed Pritchard. That paper was intended to spark controversy and was presented in that light by Dr. Pritchard; but it apparently seas found to be more entertaining than controversial, and...