Better Software Magazine Archive:

May/June 2002

IN THIS ISSUE

Why Nobody in Our Business Can Estimate
By Tim Lister

Tim Lister gives three examples of software project failures that resulted from poor estimates. The main problem? Software practitioners often don't understand the difference between an estimate and a goal. Here is some advice on how to be better estimators.

Managing Technical People (When You're No Techie)
By Elisabeth Hendrickson

There's a lot more to managing software teams than understanding the technology. Do you know how to elicit requirements from users? Do you work well with management? Do you have a knack for asking the right questions at the right time? Not knowing where to put the semicolons in a line of code isn't a big deal. Knowing how to lead people–that's a big deal. Elisabeth Hendrickson explains how to bring your own unique talents and skills to the table.

A Look at Rational's RequisitePro
By Elfriede Dustin

Creating requirements involves tracking and documenting all of the criteria for a system's success. A requirements management tool, such as IBM Rational's RequisitePro, can support this effort. While the tool won't verify that the requirements are consistent, correct, complete, relevant, coherent, and testable, it can help manage the task more efficiently by allowing you to document, track, and maintain the requirements in an automated fashion.

Using Your Staff Wisely: How to Make Do with Less
By Suzan Noden
Jennifer Mingee

In the authors' experience, sharing testing and development tasks is a viable option when the test staff can architect the tests. However, it requires the full support of everyone involved–testers, developers, and managers. All staff members must be committed to delivering a high-quality product and have a common vision of how to achieve this goal. Suzan Noden and Jennifer Mingee describe their experience sharing testing tasks with development.

Ghost Bug Busters
By Karen N. Johnson

The nasty bugs, some of the juiciest, aren't easy to replicate. The author calls these "ghost" bugs–things we've seen but cannot conjure up again. They leave us haunted with doubts about a system. In this Bug Report, Karen Johnson gives tips on how to replicate these apparitions.

Ellen Gottesdiener on Requirements Exploration and Modeling
By Ellen Gottesdiener

Translating customer requests into software requires exploration, learning, and discovery. As such, this Reference Point lists resources you can use to learn more about requirements exploration and modeling. Ellen Gottesdiener—a recognized authority on software requirements—provides her top recommendations for books, journals, and online resources on the subject.

Should a Manager Know a Language?
By Esther Derby

Knowing C++ or Java can make a manager's job easier. But what about being an expert in spoken language? It's essential to be competent in the use of daily language when you are making the transition to management. Technical Editor Esther Derby gives advice on improving your language, including a warning about the dangers of using absolutes and of leaving out details in conversation.

Go Configure!
By Dwayne Phillips

Configuration management problems can derail the best of software projects. Walk through the basics of how to make CM work for—not against—you.

Agile Meetings
By Linda Rising

Does the thought of going to yet another meeting make your head spin? Read about how to increase your team's productivity by making your meetings short, frequent, and focused.

Targeted Fault Insertion
By Paul Houlihan

Some programs must handle network errors, file system errors, and the like. Testing their error handling manually can be tedious and time consuming. Relying on accidental errors is unreliable and uncontrollable. Learn about a method for simulating errors that makes the process automated and flexible.

Forecasting Software Defects
By Gedaliah Friedenberg

The six weeks of testing you've been preparing for are suddenly reduced to one, but you still want to provide some assessment of overall quality. Read about this statistical approach to predicting the number of failed test cases in an application.

Bug Tracking Basics
By Mitch Allen

Effective bug tracking assures that bugs are logged, fixed, and verified by the appropriate personnel. Here's a beginner's guide to this process.

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