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Testivus on Software Metrics

2 replies on 1 page. Most recent reply: Jul 31, 2007 9:10 AM by Alberto Savoia

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Alberto Savoia

Posts: 95
Nickname: agitator
Registered: Aug, 2004

Testivus on Software Metrics (View in Weblogs)
Posted: Jul 21, 2007 1:38 PM
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Summary
Testivus wisdom on the proper use of software metrics.
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Following my recent blogs on code change risk metrics, I've been asked what "The Way of Testivus" would have to say on software metrics.

Here you go:

Use Software Metrics, But Don't Misuse Or Abuse Them

A pupil asked the master programmer:

“Are software metrics good or bad?”

The master picked up a hammer and said:

“Metrics are tools. Just like this hammer. They are useful – even necessary – so use them … but don’t misuse or abuse them.”

The master looked around his cabin, walked to one of the walls, saw a nail that was sticking out too far, and hammered it in.

“This is how you use a tool.”

“How do you misuse it?” Asked the pupil.

The master shuffled to a wobbly table and started banging on one of the table’s leg. After a few minutes of awful racket, the leg was marred and weakened - and the table was still wobbly.

“This is how you misuse a tool.”

“I see,” said the pupil, “and how do you abuse a tool?”

The master smiled, kneeled in front of the pupil, lifted the hammer, and dropped it on the pupil’s big toe.

...

After regaining his composure, the pupil stood up, grimaced at the master, and hopped away on one leg.

Halfway to the door, he stopped, turned around and, while hopping in place, yelled:

“I am sure glad you did not pick a saw to make your point!”

The master replied:

"I will do just that if you ask me about the goodness and badness of metrics ever again!"

The pupil resumed his hopping away ... a little faster than before.


For the full version of "The Way of Testivus", check out the original Artima entry:

http://www.artima.com/weblogs/viewpost.jsp?thread=203994

Or the very pretty PDF version of "The Way of Testivus" on ancient parchment (thank you Lori!):

http://www.agitar.com/downloads/TheWayOfTestivus.pdf

For the Testivus view on a specific software metric, code coverage, check out:

http://www.artima.com/weblogs/viewpost.jsp?thread=204677


Mark Kofman

Posts: 2
Nickname: madmak
Registered: Nov, 2006

Re: Testivus on Software Metrics Posted: Jul 31, 2007 6:31 AM
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interesting story :)

But I would argue that there are still "good hammers" and "bad hammers". You just need to know which hammer to use in your circumstances.

Alberto. So how do you use metrics? It would be interesting if you would tell us the best metric you know and give the best example of how to use it...one example is enough :)

cheers,
Mark
see my hammer: http://www.sourcekibitzer.org/Bio.ext?sp=l8

Alberto Savoia

Posts: 95
Nickname: agitator
Registered: Aug, 2004

Re: Testivus on Software Metrics Posted: Jul 31, 2007 9:10 AM
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Hi Mark,

I checked out your "hammer", pretty interesting. I'd like to hear more about it, especially about the "Developer Know-How" metric.

> Alberto. So how do you use metrics? It would be
> interesting if you would tell us the best metric you know
> and give the best example of how to use it...one example
> is enough :)

I believe in, and use (hopefully not "abuse" or "misuse"), a lot of metrics. A few years ago, I created a dashboard to collect all the metrics on the projects I managed in a single place.

We openly post our dashboard, and you can see the dashboard for Dashboard itself at the following links:

Summary:

http://www.agitar.com/openquality/dashboard-dashboard-latest/index.html

Another tab on the same dashboard with analysis on test coverage and complexity:

http://www.agitar.com/openquality/dashboard-dashboard-latest/analysis.html

Some of the tabs in this dashboard are re-directed because they contain proprietary information (e.g. developer names, class and method names, etc.) But for open-source projects (we make our products freely available to legitimate open-source projects) you can drill down in more detail. For example:

http://www.agitar.com/openquality/jakarta-lucene-1.4.3/index.html

We run the dashboard every time we do a build (which is several times each day) and having the dashboard has given us a tremendous amount of useful and actionable insights.
These days I can't imagine managing a software project without it.

Alberto

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