[MUD-Dev] software engineer: testing (was: [DGN] Creating a MUD)

John Buehler johnbue at msn.com
Thu Jun 6 09:11:50 New Zealand Standard Time 2002


Bruce Mitchener writes:

> If you take the line of reasoning that a lot of stuff that should
> be common sense is allowed to fall into software engineering, then
> we can include things like software testing. :)

Before you talk about testing, you have to come up with what
behavior you want out of your system.  Behavior specifications,
possibly including resource utilization are critical to organizing
your testing.  Some aspects of testing are almost de rigeur, such as
ensuring that you have actually executed every instruction of code
generated by your compiler (that is reachable).  Obviously, full
path coverage (every permutation of branches through your code)
would be nice, but who does that?

So the capturing of the specification of what you want out of your
code goes a long way to ensuring that you're testing against some
useful, concrete metric.  I can spend a week getting the performance
of my code to execute a given function in X milliseconds, only to
discover that what was needed was a piece of code that used a small
memory footprint.  Or to discover that reliability was critical, and
that resource utilization could be sacrificed to accomodate that
goal.

The funny thing about trying to capture a specification of a chunk
of functionality is that it requires the designer to really
understand all the ramifications/implications of what is being
designed.  How often do we just assume that a miracle happens when
two pieces of code come together?  And then we spend half the
project getting those pieces of software to work together?

> I'd love to hear about other tools that people are using gainfully
> to better test, debug, and analyze their software.  What cool
> things am I missing out on?  (I'm interested in tools on other
> platforms as well, I work on Mac OS X, Solaris and Windows as
> well, but most of the free tools that I've found are for Linux.)

I wish my memory was better for names, but Microsoft was working on
a suite of tools that it uses to do code coverage, performance
analysis and such.  They were internal two years ago and I hadn't
heard of any plans to take them primetime - although I'd love to
have them as part of the integrated Developer Studio.  DEC had some
nifty tools for the same, and they were available as products back
in the 80s.  I felt like I was missing some fingers when I switched
to PCs after that time on VMS.

JB

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