Size Always Matters


Corner of 26th St. and 6th Ave in NYC at 2 AM? Good to be big!

Middle seat from Los Angeles to Sydney? Good to be small!

Size always matters. Software is no exception. Software measurement expert Capers Jones has published data on how software size is fundamental. If you know size you can derive a lot of useful things -- an accurate estimate of the defect density, for example. To see the complete list, go to Capers Jones' presentation and check out slide #4.

Having an accurate function point count for your critical apps is great.  The problem is it's expensive, it takes too much time, requires expertise you don't have, and distracts your team from their day job.

The rest of this post is about how CAST's function point automation works and how it solves the problems covered in the previous paragraph.

Over the last few years, we've really bulked up our function point counting capabilities. Think Arnold Schwarzenegger 1975 Mr. Olympia competition.

If you know a bit about function points, you know how incredibly hard it is to automate function point counts starting from source code as the input. That's because function points capture functionality from the end user's perspective. This functionality is encapsulated in calls from the GUI layer to the database layer.

To do what CAST does, you have to be able to analyze these calls and reverse engineer the end user experience! That's a tall order, but that's exactly what we did over the last 5 years of intense R&D and field testing.

This intense effort has led to a three key breakthroughs.

Breakthrough #1: Micro function points. The CAST function point counting algorithm is sophisticated enough to count micro-function point changes -- the result of small enhancements that can quickly add up.  These are impossible to count manually, but they're easily picked up by CAST's automation.

Breakthrough #2: Enhancement function points. Like Microsoft Word's Track Changes capability, CAST remembers exactly which data and transaction elements have been added, modified, and deleted in a series of changes made to a project. So you no longer have to worry about ignoring work that is necessary but doesn't necessarily change the function point count.

Breakthrough #3: Calibration with function point experts in the field. We've been working with partners like David Consulting Group to ensure our automated counts are well within the accepted variance of counts.

Fast, low cost, benchmarkable function point counting? Automated size measurement is the answer!

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