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Software Quality

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"There are two common aspects of quality: One of them has to do with the consideration of the quality of a thing as an objective reality independent of the existence of man. The other has to do with what we think, feel, or sense as a result of the objective reality. In other words, there is a subjective side of quality." —W.A. Shewart, 19316

Quality and dependability of software systems are among the greatest concerns of computing professionals. In the 1970s Barry Boehm,2 James McCall,5 and their colleagues devised models for measuring software quality, which were eventually folded into an international standard ISO 9216.1,4 The standard metrics measure objective characteristics of the software. But, as Shewart noted long before software existed, quality is ultimately a subjective assessment made by humans reacting to artifacts. In other words, quality is in the eye of the beholder. Today much software falls short of the ISO standard and yet is more popular than systems that meet the standard. What standards of assessment are modern software users using? I will propose a preliminary answer here.


R Oldehoeft

Marcus Vitruvius Pollio was a Roman architect circa 75 BCE - 15 CA. He extolled three virtues that all buildings must provide: Firmness, Commodity, and Delight.

Software should achieve the same goals: Achieve a satisfactory level of freedom from damaging failure; Utility to accomplish the tasks it is purported to be for; And pleasure in use. These are related to Dr. Dennings terms, but they provide a multi-dimensional set of measures that establish a high standard.

Without abolishing the terms of EULAs in place today, that will be impossible.

Nandakumar Ramanathan

Please refer to ISO-25010:2011 SQuaRE standard which I consider as much better than the ISO-9126 standard. It specifies software quality under 8 broad categories and 31 total sub-categories. Software quality is to considered from the points of view of multiple stakeholders. Although users are the primary customers, there are others to consider as well. Maintainability is an essential quality for all software from beginning to the end of their life cycles. Designing status dashboards for software quality during development for each stakeholder is a management research topic. Apart from human-centric subjective measurements, we should aim to specify particular manifestations of each quality sub-category, as a set of quality requirements specification and monitor their realisation status.

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