e-Talk Radio: Paulk, Mark, 28 November 2000


Carol: And we will be back to hear what you thought it meant as soon as we hear a few messages from our sponsors... Welcome back. If you're just joining us, you're in for a treat. We're talking to Mark Paulk, who's a senior member of the technical staff at the Software Engineering Institute at Carnegie-Mellon University, this week. And we've been talking about high maturity processes. What does it take to make software using a standardized process? And just before we went into the break, Mark, you mentioned that when you were in university, you had never heard the phrase "configuration management." And we cut you off right before we went into break. So I'd like you to finish that thought for us.

Mark: Well, there are a lot of things that I never heard of when I was getting my degree in computer science. I never heard of configuration management or quality assurance. Those were all terms that just never crossed my horizon.

Once you get out into industry and start building real software products, all of a sudden some of the things start popping up that you never think about as a student. And so, for example, configuration management, I kind of accidentally fell into configuration management, because in the days when I was writing software, we didn't have our own private workstations. We worked on super minicomputers and things like that, the vax in particular. And I was editing a file, and I exited from it and compiled it and linked it and ran the program. And none of the things that I just put in were showing up in the way that the program was executing. And so I went and looked at the source code again, and none of the changes that I had spent several hours putting in were in the source file. And it turned out that someone else, one of my colleagues, was editing the same file at the same time as I was. And so when we exited, it turned out he exited a couple of minutes after I did and his version of the software, in essence, overwrote my version of the software. So I had several hours of work that was lost because, you know,

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