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Role Of Inspection In Software Quality Assurance Information Technology Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Information Technology
Wordcount: 2138 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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The intent of the paper is to analyze and discuss two research articles naming, The role of inspection in software quality assurance and Software inspections at Fermi lab -Use and experience .Both the articles describe about the method to improve quality of the product/software which is known as software inspection. Detailed discussion is made on various scenarios where software inspection is applied with its benefits. Suggestions and experiments conducted are analyzed which are used for the refinement of inspection process.

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Main focus in this research article is done on the area software quality assurance. Quality of software mainly depends upon its usability, maintainability, reliability and correctness. To develop and acquire software with good quality, development techniques like pair programming, software inspections, joint application development (JAD) are used. Despite of much effort by many researchers from many years, developers are not able to produce software which is error free. Several bugs are thereby reported by the users after the release of the software which became a ultimate challenge to the software developers and organization. Previously these problems are verified through methods like formal correctness verification and study methods which gained unsatisfactory results. To solve the critical nature of the software, software inspection process is designed by Michael Fagan to reduce the number of defects in software at an early stage possible [2].

In this paper two articles naming, the role of inspection in software quality assurance and Software inspections at Fermi lab-Use and Experience, have been taken which focused on software inspection and its benefits. Both the articles are summarized with the description of their problem domain. Later sections describe about the solutions proposed by the author, scope of the articles, Foundation of the author for the solution chosen and analysis of the both research articles.

2. Problem Domain

Improving the quality of software is the biggest challenge faced by organizations and developers these days. Many methods like formal reviews, pair programming are adopted by them which failed to obtain satisfactory results. For example, when Microsoft’s passport online information repository was designed, a major security flaw was found after the release where an outsider can find the personal details of the members by knowing their email address and constructing an URL based on that[1]. Though usage of standard methods are done various bugs are raised which affects quality of a software directly .Both the articles mentioned, deal about the similar problem with some proposed solutions. Various effective ways of performing inspection to increase its scope and applicability is done for improving quality of the software.

3. Scope of the articles

Article1: In this article a proposal is specified in which joint special issues are made. Issues of IEEE software magazine (Software) and IEEE transactions on software engineering (TSE) are being focused. These are observed by the authors of this article in the workshop on inspection in software engineering (WISE), a satellite event on 2001 Computer aided verification (CAV’01)[1]. Problems were explained by the practitioners and researchers which they encountered while performing the inspection process. On basis of both the issues author proposed a joint special issue which made both the teams (practitioners and authors) communicate with each other to narrow the gap existed between them. As one team reports the results the other uses those in practice and specifies if any more research needs to be done. Author explained the results using inspection process and its benefits. Further suggestions are given to improve the effectiveness and applicability of inspection in today’s life [1].

Article 2: In order to reach the highest quality possible several methods are been followed by the organizations. In this article, Fermi national accelerator laboratory (Fermi lab) started implementing a formal inspection process to help meet these goals [2]. Here in this article benefits of applying inspection process at different levels of software development life cycle and benefits to the people associated with it are analyzed [2]. Lessons learnt, Experiences using several inspection methods are described. Improvement of software quality is done using formal technical reviews and Fagan’s inspection in Fermi lab [2] Different types of reviews and inspection are been run in the lab on various works like Linked lists, Data compression, Dynamic schema etc [2]. Expansion of FTR (Formal technical reviews) sphere is done to establish a standard process for walkthroughs and formal reviews and many benefits of FTR’s are yet to be explored by Fermi lab.

4. Solutions suggested

Both the articles mentioned software inspection as the definite solution for the above problem which is designed by Michael Fagan. Both researchers and practitioners are trying to resolve the limitations of present inspection techniques which help inspectors to use them in an appropriate scenario.

“Inspection refers to examine a product by following certain prescribed systematic process which determines the fitness of the product for its intended use” which is designed by Michael Fagan [1][2]. Because of the systematic procedure this method became more successful than other informal reviews, which also requires less effort. Now a day’s testing and formal verification are widely used by the people in industry to improve the quality of software. Inspection is the method which can be placed in between formal verification and testing. As inspection acquires substantial advantages compared to both the above methods it has wide range difference in the acceptance of practitioners and researchers [1]. By testing and formal verification errors are detected which also determines mathematical correctness. But inspection not only detects errors but also specifies the coding style guidelines, relevancy of comments in the code, maintainability of code and allows improvements in naming conventions, portability and other standards[1][2] .Early inspection of the documents which states the system requirements is also done which helps to build a correct system.

As per article 2, Fagan inspection which is a blend mixture of formal reviews, walkthroughs and inspections are performed at Fermi lab to investigate the benefits of inspection. All these methods involved in Fagan inspection are used to improve the quality of the material which are similar in many ways but has a slight change in its applicability. Main difference between these methods is walkthroughs and reviews are used to examine the code where as inspection can also be used to review many other materials at any stage of life cycle [2].

4.1 Inspection process in detail: Fagan’s inspection process which is also known as Fermi lab’s inspection process consists of steps like Initial preparation, briefing meeting, reviewer preparation, inspection meeting, rework and follow up. This method involves subjects like moderator, author, scribe and reviewers (inspectors) [2].Responsibility of the moderator is to coordinate the whole process who directs the flow of all meetings. Supplying the material that should be reviewed is the responsibility of the author. Notes of all the meetings conducted are taken by scribe. And in the final stage reviewer is responsible to examine the material and identify errors and issues. Person who possess specialized knowledge skills are chosen to review the material, who may also be an outsider of the project or team [2].

4.1.1. Initial preparation: First step of this process involves choosing the material which has to be reviewed and selection of other members who need to participate in the inspection process like scribe and reviewers. Selection of the material that needs to be reviewed is the crucial step in this process. Material chosen should be consistent, correct, complete and reviewable. Thereafter moderator and author create a checklist that guides the reviewers throughout the inspection.

4.1.2. Briefing meeting: Purpose of this meeting is to give overview of the material that need to be inspected and supplying the material and checklists to the responsible subjects. Any additional material is also given to them if it is needed in this meeting.

4.1.3..Reviewer preparation: In this step reviewers inspect the material given with limited time which may be from several hours to days. In this duration they inspect the documents they are given and issues are recorded by them.

4.1.4. Inspection meeting: This meeting consists of three parts, in the first one the reviewers are given chance to make any general comments about the material and about their preparation. If preparation is not done then there is a chance of rescheduling the meeting. Second part consists of the discussion of issues and bugs that are found out by the reviewers. All the issues raised are noted down by the scribe in the meeting. Final part consists of the comments by the moderator on improvements and meeting conducted.

4.1.5. Rework: Resolving the issues and bugs that are raised in the inspection meeting by the reviewers are done by the authors in this step. This is the crucial and difficult step in the whole process as the author has to decide which issues need to be resolved and which need to be ignored.

4.1.6. Follow up: Moderator and author reviews all the issues to see all the reported errors are being solved or not.

Success of the inspection mainly depends on the inspectors as certain limits are also posed on them while the process is carried out. Key point in the inspection depends upon the two factors 1) Correctness of inspected components which implies to the correctness of the product 2) no component of it is overlooked.

5. Authors foundation on the solution

In article 1 the authors selected the solution based upon the ideas from the workshop. To improve the quality of software many of the authors selected inspection process but failed to use in an effective way. Author of article 1 suggested an idea of linking two special issues to make inspection an effective approach through computer aided tools and refinement. The idea of combining the researchers approach and practitioners approach was built and distilled from the workshop on inspection in software engineering (WISE), a satellite event of the 2001 computer aided verification (CAV 01) conference [1].

In article 2 authors performed an experiment to know about the effectiveness of Fagan’s inspection process and its benefits. As Fagan’s inspections process was widely accepted and has well defined structure it was compared to other formal reviews and walkthroughs and results were obtained at the end.

6. Analysis

Here in these research articles, works of the researchers and practitioners on the limitations of the present inspection techniques are been addressed. In article 1 author suggested to link both the practitioners and researchers idea to obtain effective usage of inspection technique. As there is no proper communication between them, idea on the technique between researchers and practitioners is deviating. By a proper medium both can understand idea of each other. As one can report the results and other can explain how those results are used and what kind of research still needs to be done.

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In the article 2 Fagan’s inspection process has been reviewed and compared to other formal reviews to know the effectiveness of inspection process. The whole process in conducted in Fermi national accelerator laboratory (Fermi lab).Results have been obtained by the authors by conducting several experiments of inspection on various kinds of documented work like Linked lists, Scientific tiling, Expression evaluator etc. From this implementation of review process effective ways and applicability scenarios of inspection has been delivered. In this article a sample standard checklist is delivered which can be used in the inspection.

7. Conclusion

Many research works and empirical studies are being carried out to know the effective methods which improve the quality of software. By reviewing the both the articles we come to know about the inspection process, its applicability in various scenarios and its benefits. This report summarizes both the articles and findings of the authors in a descriptive way. Still much research is needed to know about the effective ways of doing inspection.


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