An empirical study on software quality : developer perception of quality, metrics, and visualizations




Wilson, Gary Lynn

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Software tends to decline in quality over time, causing development and maintenance costs to rise. However, by measuring, tracking, and controlling quality during the lifetime of a software product, its technical debt can be held in check, reducing total cost of ownership. The measurement of quality faces challenges due to disagreement in the meaning of software quality, the inability to directly measure quality factors, and the lack of measurement practice in the software industry. This report addresses these challenges through both a literature survey, a metrics derivation process, and a survey of professional software developers. Definitions of software quality from the literature are presented and evaluated with responses from software professionals. A goal, question, metric process is used to derive quality-targeted metrics tracing back to a set of seven code-quality subgoals, while a survey to software professionals shows that despite agreement that metrics and metric visualizations would be useful for improving software quality, the techniques are underutilized in practice.



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