It’s a new year which means we must assume everything we did before last week was rubbish and change everything.
OK, that’s a slightly cynical view but it does always amaze me how quickly advertising, blogs and news changes at this time of year. That’s also not to say that I haven’t joined in, as I ease back into work I have enjoyed looking back at 2014 as a year of great change (starting Wiresmith Technology) and now look forward to improving in 2015.
Quality means doing it right when no one is looking – Henry Ford
One big focus point for me is going to be software quality. As old projects finish and new ones start, I want to make sure I have done everything in my power to prevent old projects coming back with issues. Some problems are inevitable but it costs time to fix and lost time on other projects to have to refocus.
I find it interesting that when it comes to software bugs are considered inevitable, even as I started by business and got contracts drawn up, the templates all include clauses stating this. Whilst there is an element of truth (software is a complex system) I also think it can lead to a relaxed attitude towards defects that you wouldn’t find in other fields.
Software never was perfect and won’t get perfect. But is that a license to create garbage? The missing ingredient is our reluctance to quantify quality – Boris Beizer
The key reason is simple, when I have been writing tests as I have written code (not always strictly first, but as I am initially developing) I have found bugs. Therefore, there is only two possible outcomes to me not testing:
- I discover that bug as I test the integration of that code into the main product. This could take a lot of time if it is not clear what subVI is the source of the bug and I have to go back and fix it. Even knowing the subVI it means I have to get back into the same mentality as when I wrote it, which also takes time.
- I still miss it and the customer finds it instead. This is more costly to debug as you are likely going to find it harder to debug from the customers descriptions down to a subVI, never mind knocking the customers confidence in you.
To do this requires two things, the right mentality and the right tools.
For the mentality, discipline is the biggest requirement to begin with. I know the process and it will feel unnatural at first but I hope to push through the initial pain to get to the rolling green pastures on the other side.
For the tools, there are really two in existence for LabVIEW. The Unit Test Framework (UTF) from NI and JKI’s VI Tester. I have tried UTF quite a bit and want to return and evaluate VI Tester over the next couple of months to understand its advantages.
For both of these, keep an eye out over the next few months when I hope to report back on my progress and findings with them. No doubt I will also be discussing this on the NI community as well. Check out the Unit Testing group over there if you want to learn more (and from more experienced people).