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Agitating Thoughts & Ideas
Testivus on Software Metrics
by Alberto Savoia
July 21, 2007
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

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About the Blogger

Alberto Savoia is founder and CTO at Agitar Software, and he has been life-long agitator and innovator in the area of software development and testing tools and technology. Alberto's software products have won a number of awards including: the JavaOne's Duke Award, Software Development Magazine's Productivity Award, Java Developer Journal's World Class Award, and Java World Editor's Choice Award. His current mission is to make developer unit testing a broadly adopted and standar industry practice rather than a rare exception. Before Agitar, Alberto worked at Google as the engineering executive in charge of the highly successful and profitable ads group. In October 1998, he cofounded and became CTO of Velogic/Keynote (NASD:KEYN), the pioneer and leading innovator in Internet performance and scalability testing. Prior to Velogic, Alberto had 13-year career at Sun Microsystems where his most recent positions were Founder and General Manager of the SunTest business unit, and Director of Software Technology Research at Sun Microsystems Laboratories.

This weblog entry is Copyright © 2007 Alberto Savoia. All rights reserved.

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