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Articles

Beware the IDE: The Risks of Standardizing on One IDE

Two topics that are likely to launch a development team into an impassioned discussion are development standards and development environments (IDEs, editors, etc). Combining the two topics into that of standardizing on development environments, is even more likely to spark debate. Decisions about development tools affect the day to day workings of each person on the team as well as the productivity of the team, and as such are important to discuss as a team organizes itself.

swing hanging from tree Finish on Time by Managing Scale

When deciding how a user's task is to be supported in our software, we often look at possible design solutions and select one that's best for the product and the user. As the project deadline approaches, however, we might choose to dismiss some features outright. In this column, Jeff Patton suggests we try keeping more features by adjusting their scale.

Jeff Patton's picture Jeff Patton

Better Software Magazine Articles

Lights, Camera, Automate Software Builds and Deployments!

Picture this: a robust and scalable software build and deployment process minus the chaos. Follow these guidelines and best practices for building and deploying multiple applications in an integrated environment, and you might just find your happy ending.

Franz Garsombke's picture Franz Garsombke
Continuous Integration—Your Project's Unlikely Hero

Code sandboxes of the world, unite behind a new leader: Continuous Integration (CI). Automated and customizable, CI gives you the ability to know at the push of a button whether your application is working or whether it needs a tweak. It brings together the disparate code of countless developers and provides a real-time gauge of your application's health. Never fear nightly (or, egads! weekly) builds again. Rely on the strength of CI.

Jeffrey Frederick's picture Jeffrey Frederick

Conference Presentations

Refactoring: What You Need to Do It Right

As certain as evolving requirements lead to code changes, code changes lead to code degradation. Therefore, code refactoring is critical to the long-term viability of all software products. Kevin Sawicki shares tips and tricks for refactoring to help developers identify code that needs refactoring, preserve the correct code history during refactoring sessions, and ensure that appropriate unit tests cover the refactored code. Kevin demonstrates the Eclipse open-source frameworks and Java-based tools, including EMMA for code coverage analysis and JUnit for unit testing. These tools not only make code refactoring less painful, they also empower developers to constantly improve their code through relentless refactoring. Kevin outlines a step-by-step process to find refactoring candidates, perform the refactorings in an isolated code branch, and collaborate with other developers to review the refactored code.

Kevin Sawicki, Perforce Software
Making Agile Work in Highly Regulated Environments

Highly regulated industries-avionics suppliers, medical device companies, and pharmaceutical manufacturers-must meet rigorous quality standards to ensure their products are not a danger to the general public. Although compliance has traditionally been achieved with heavyweight waterfall or V-model development methodologies, you can implement agile-or lean-agile-development practices that adhere to standards-based regulations while reducing the risk and improving software quality and reliability. Colin Doyle identifies the constraints that agile and lean-agile software development approaches must address: traceability to clearly defined requirements, formal risk analysis and mitigation, and separation of roles between development and validation.

Colin Doyle, MKS, Inc.
A Test Odyssey: Building a High Performance, Distributed Team

It seemed simple enough-hire the best available technical staff that would work from home to build some great software. Along the way, the team encountered the usual problems: time zone differences, communication headaches, and a surprising regression test monster. Matt Heusser describes how Socialtext built their high-performance development and test team, got the right people on the bus, built a culture of "assume good intent and then just do it," created the infrastructure to enable remote work, and employed a lightweight yet accountable process. Of course, the story has the impossible deadlines, conflicting expectations, unclear roles, and everything you'd get in many development projects. Matt shares how the team cut through the noise, including building a test framework integrated into the product, to achieve their product and quality aims.

Matthew Heusser, Socialtext
Using Test Automation Frameworks

As you embark on implementing or improving automation within your testing process, you'll want to avoid the "Just Do It" attitude some have taken. Perhaps you've heard the term "test automation framework" and wondered what it means, what it does for testing, and if you need one. Andrew Pollner, who has developed automated testing frameworks for more than fifteen years, outlines how frameworks have grown up around test automation tools. Regardless of which automation tool you use, the concepts of a framework are similar. Andrew answers many of your questions: Why build a framework? What benefit does it provide? What does it cost to build a framework? What ROI can I expect when using a framework? Explore the different approaches to framework development and identify problems to watch out for to ensure the approach you take will provide years of productivity.

Andrew Pollner, ALP International Corp

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