Friday, March 5, 2010

Testing what Errors

* Programmer errors occur when a programmer knows what to program but doesn't do it right. His algorithm might be wrong, he might have made a typo, or he may have made some other mistake while translating his ideas into code.

* Design errors create breeding grounds for bugs. According to Barry Boehm (PDF), 20% of the modules in a program are typically responsible for 80% of the errors. They're not necessarily the result of an outright mistake, though. Often a module starts out well but gets crufty as the program grows.

* Requirements errors occur when a programmer creates code that does exactly what she intends, but her intention was wrong. Somehow she misunderstood what needed to be done. Or, perhaps, no one knew what needed to be done. Either way, the code works as intended, but it doesn't do the right thing.

* Systemic errors make mistakes easy. The team's work habits include a blind spot that lets subtle defects escape. In this environment, everybody thinks they're doing the right thing--programmers are confident that they're expressing their intent, and customers are confident that programmers are doing the right thing--yet defects occur anyway. Security holes are a common example.

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