Welcome!

Java IoT Authors: Stackify Blog, Yeshim Deniz, Pat Romanski, Matt Lonstine, Glenda Sims

Related Topics: Java IoT, Industrial IoT, Microservices Expo

Java IoT: Article

Software Quality Best Practices: Healthy Software

Great Software IS Great Marketing

Consider the following scenario-typical in many application development organizations. A major new release of an application has just gone into production. Although the development and QA teams endured many late nights of coding and testing, and consumed large quantities of delivered pizza, the project missed its ship date. Still, customers are happy with the product and are giving positive feedback. By many definitions, the team has produced a quality product.

Then, a new, large business opportunity requires the rapid implementation of a significant new feature in the product. The tired and over-worked development team struggles with how, or even if, it can meet the new requirement. They are concerned that the new feature will break the existing product and predict a lengthy development cycle.

Schedule overruns, tired staff, and difficulty in changing or adding functionality are sure indications that something is wrong with your software: your software is unhealthy. It is poorly specified, architected, and designed; it lacks comprehensive documentation, and automated unit and system tests. Changing even the smallest part of its code is fraught with risk as no one fully understands the implications.

The cost of unhealthy software
The impact of unhealthy software is significant and even has a quantifiable effect on the value of the business.  The total payroll for individuals in the US software workforce approaches US$120 Billion per year.  According to industry experts such as Capers Jones, nearly US$75 Billion of that can be attributed to software repair.  This amount is equivalent to one-fifth of the profits reported by the largest 500 corporations in the United States.  Stated another way, if corporations were able to convert this $120 Billion into profits, they would increase their market capitalization by an incredible USD$2 Trillion, based on current S&P500 multiples.   Other studies, such as the May 2002 NIST report estimated a smaller amount for the value of potentially recoverable costs--$21 Billion.

The costs associated with the consequences of defective software are even more severe.  The NIST report estimates that over $38 Billion of end-users' time is wasted.  And the Standish Group reported downstream business costs-"collateral damage" of nearly $300 billion.

The path to healthy software
Many solutions have been proposed to help remedy the problem, including requirements management, modeling tools, incremental development, component-based development, service orientation, and automated system tests. All of these solutions add value, but none have as much impact as Developer Testing.

It makes so much sense: developers create the code that embodies the design and also harbors the software's defects. Enabling developers to validate the correctness of their code at the time they write it creates cascading positive effects that have tremendous beneficial impact on software health:

  • Developers can fix simple coding errors at a very low cost, without negatively affecting other modules.
  • They are able to fix the design flaw that led to the error, not just remove the manifestation of the error. Testable code is better code.
  • They keep the tests with their code and run them often. Any changes that introduce errors at later stages of the development cycle are immediately observed and fixed.
  • The tests developers create serve as an executable specification. Other developers can understand what each developer's software module does from these tests, and write their own software such that it interacts correctly - further promoting proper design.
  • The final software product they deliver comes with a body of executable unit tests that cover all of its code, branches, and outcomes. Developers will be confident of the software's quality and make changes with speed and certainty.

Figure 1: Developer Testing results in healthier applications.

As the above graph indicates in red, in the absence of Developer Testing, developers work without significant feedback on software quality until the QA team begins testing, which is usually late in the development cycle.

By then, software health has deteriorated to the point where it is typically impossible to fully restore. At a minimum, it would be difficult and expensive to do so.

In contrast, the above chart shows in green that a team using Developer Testing keeps its software healthy throughout the development cycle. The project will be completed earlier, with more confidence, and less stress. And the resulting product will be highly reusable and extensible. The team has delivered healthy software.

Developer Testing defined
Developer Testing (also called unit testing, or programmer testing) has gained significant acceptance in the recent years, fueled by the adoption of agile development processes such as XP and Scrum. The popular Developer Testing framework JUnit has been downloaded more than 1 million times and is now included with most IDEs.

Here is how we define Developer Testing for software development teams:

  • For every software unit created, developers also create meaningful tests that can be automatically executed to verify that the software functions correctly.
  • Developers do not check in a unit of software before the tests for that unit pass.
  • Developers add the tests to a repository of unit tests that verify that all units of the integrated system function correctly.
  • This collection of unit tests is executed frequently, and the team commits to keep the tests passing at every stage of the development process.

Teams that practice Developer Testing usually use some form of build automation. By integrating new code into a fully built system on a regular basis, it is possible to detect and fix regressions early, particularly when the process includes running a comprehensive body of unit tests.
Broadening the adoption of Developer Testing

If Developer Testing provides so many benefits, why is it done so rarely? The answer, to a large degree, is that current approaches rely too much on extensive manual effort:

  • Writing tests is a combinatorial problem. Every branch in code requires multiple tests. To accomplish good coverage, developers must often write test code that is several times as long as the source code it is meant to test.
  • Maintaining tests becomes more of a burden as the number of tests grows and the associated code changes. As a result, tests often go out of date and, once they have, they lose their value and are no longer used.
  • Even if tests are up-to-date and are being run frequently, it can be hard to interpret their relevance. What part of the code has been tested, and what has not? Is the untested code likely to harbor defects? Without tools to interpret and direct the results, Developer Testing will only have marginal value.

Test execution frameworks like JUnit, build automation tools like Ant and Maven, and integration/automation tools like CruiseControl have had an enormously positive impact on the adoption of Developer Testing. What is still needed is a set of tools that help overcome the most significant barriers: the creation and maintenance of unit tests, and the management of Developer Testing efforts.

More Stories By Hollis Tibbetts

Hollis Tibbetts, or @SoftwareHollis as his 50,000+ followers know him on Twitter, is listed on various “top 100 expert lists” for a variety of topics – ranging from Cloud to Technology Marketing, Hollis is by day Evangelist & Software Technology Director at Dell Software. By night and weekends he is a commentator, speaker and all-round communicator about Software, Data and Cloud in their myriad aspects. You can also reach Hollis on LinkedIn – linkedin.com/in/SoftwareHollis. His latest online venture is OnlineBackupNews - a free reference site to help organizations protect their data, applications and systems from threats. Every year IT Downtime Costs $26.5 Billion In Lost Revenue. Even with such high costs, 56% of enterprises in North America and 30% in Europe don’t have a good disaster recovery plan. Online Backup News aims to make sure you all have the news and tips needed to keep your IT Costs down and your information safe by providing best practices, technology insights, strategies, real-world examples and various tips and techniques from a variety of industry experts.

Hollis is a regularly featured blogger at ebizQ, a venue focused on enterprise technologies, with over 100,000 subscribers. He is also an author on Social Media Today "The World's Best Thinkers on Social Media", and maintains a blog focused on protecting data: Online Backup News.
He tweets actively as @SoftwareHollis

Additional information is available at HollisTibbetts.com

All opinions expressed in the author's articles are his own personal opinions vs. those of his employer.

@ThingsExpo Stories
DX World EXPO, LLC, a Lighthouse Point, Florida-based startup trade show producer and the creator of "DXWorldEXPO® - Digital Transformation Conference & Expo" has announced its executive management team. The team is headed by Levent Selamoglu, who has been named CEO. "Now is the time for a truly global DX event, to bring together the leading minds from the technology world in a conversation about Digital Transformation," he said in making the announcement.
"Space Monkey by Vivent Smart Home is a product that is a distributed cloud-based edge storage network. Vivent Smart Home, our parent company, is a smart home provider that places a lot of hard drives across homes in North America," explained JT Olds, Director of Engineering, and Brandon Crowfeather, Product Manager, at Vivint Smart Home, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Conference Guru has been named “Media Sponsor” of the 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. A valuable conference experience generates new contacts, sales leads, potential strategic partners and potential investors; helps gather competitive intelligence and even provides inspiration for new products and services. Conference Guru works with conference organizers to pass great deals to gre...
The Internet of Things will challenge the status quo of how IT and development organizations operate. Or will it? Certainly the fog layer of IoT requires special insights about data ontology, security and transactional integrity. But the developmental challenges are the same: People, Process and Platform. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Craig Sproule, CEO of Metavine, demonstrated how to move beyond today's coding paradigm and shared the must-have mindsets for removing complexity from the develop...
In his Opening Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, John Considine, General Manager of IBM Cloud Infrastructure, led attendees through the exciting evolution of the cloud. He looked at this major disruption from the perspective of technology, business models, and what this means for enterprises of all sizes. John Considine is General Manager of Cloud Infrastructure Services at IBM. In that role he is responsible for leading IBM’s public cloud infrastructure including strategy, development, and offering m...
"Evatronix provides design services to companies that need to integrate the IoT technology in their products but they don't necessarily have the expertise, knowledge and design team to do so," explained Adam Morawiec, VP of Business Development at Evatronix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
To get the most out of their data, successful companies are not focusing on queries and data lakes, they are actively integrating analytics into their operations with a data-first application development approach. Real-time adjustments to improve revenues, reduce costs, or mitigate risk rely on applications that minimize latency on a variety of data sources. In his session at @BigDataExpo, Jack Norris, Senior Vice President, Data and Applications at MapR Technologies, reviewed best practices to ...
Widespread fragmentation is stalling the growth of the IIoT and making it difficult for partners to work together. The number of software platforms, apps, hardware and connectivity standards is creating paralysis among businesses that are afraid of being locked into a solution. EdgeX Foundry is unifying the community around a common IoT edge framework and an ecosystem of interoperable components.
Large industrial manufacturing organizations are adopting the agile principles of cloud software companies. The industrial manufacturing development process has not scaled over time. Now that design CAD teams are geographically distributed, centralizing their work is key. With large multi-gigabyte projects, outdated tools have stifled industrial team agility, time-to-market milestones, and impacted P&L stakeholders.
"Akvelon is a software development company and we also provide consultancy services to folks who are looking to scale or accelerate their engineering roadmaps," explained Jeremiah Mothersell, Marketing Manager at Akvelon, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"IBM is really all in on blockchain. We take a look at sort of the history of blockchain ledger technologies. It started out with bitcoin, Ethereum, and IBM evaluated these particular blockchain technologies and found they were anonymous and permissionless and that many companies were looking for permissioned blockchain," stated René Bostic, Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Conventi...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Carl J. Levine, Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1, will objectively discuss how DNS is used to solve Digital Transformation challenges in large SaaS applications, CDNs, AdTech platforms, and other demanding use cases. Carl J. Levine is the Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1. A veteran of the Internet Infrastructure space, he has over a decade of experience with startups, networking protocols and Internet infrastructure, combined with the unique ability to it...
22nd International Cloud Expo, taking place June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and co-located with the 1st DXWorld Expo will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud ...
"Cloud Academy is an enterprise training platform for the cloud, specifically public clouds. We offer guided learning experiences on AWS, Azure, Google Cloud and all the surrounding methodologies and technologies that you need to know and your teams need to know in order to leverage the full benefits of the cloud," explained Alex Brower, VP of Marketing at Cloud Academy, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clar...
Gemini is Yahoo’s native and search advertising platform. To ensure the quality of a complex distributed system that spans multiple products and components and across various desktop websites and mobile app and web experiences – both Yahoo owned and operated and third-party syndication (supply), with complex interaction with more than a billion users and numerous advertisers globally (demand) – it becomes imperative to automate a set of end-to-end tests 24x7 to detect bugs and regression. In th...
"MobiDev is a software development company and we do complex, custom software development for everybody from entrepreneurs to large enterprises," explained Alan Winters, U.S. Head of Business Development at MobiDev, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Coca-Cola’s Google powered digital signage system lays the groundwork for a more valuable connection between Coke and its customers. Digital signs pair software with high-resolution displays so that a message can be changed instantly based on what the operator wants to communicate or sell. In their Day 3 Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Chambers, Global Group Director, Digital Innovation, Coca-Cola, and Vidya Nagarajan, a Senior Product Manager at Google, discussed how from store operations and ...
"There's plenty of bandwidth out there but it's never in the right place. So what Cedexis does is uses data to work out the best pathways to get data from the origin to the person who wants to get it," explained Simon Jones, Evangelist and Head of Marketing at Cedexis, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events announced today that CrowdReviews.com has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5–7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. CrowdReviews.com is a transparent online platform for determining which products and services are the best based on the opinion of the crowd. The crowd consists of Internet users that have experienced products and services first-hand and have an interest in letting other potential buye...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Telecom Reseller has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Telecom Reseller reports on Unified Communications, UCaaS, BPaaS for enterprise and SMBs. They report extensively on both customer premises based solutions such as IP-PBX as well as cloud based and hosted platforms.