|There's more than one way to do things|
Re^3: Cyclomatic Complexity of Perl codeby BrowserUk (Pope)
|on Dec 08, 2004 at 22:16 UTC||Need Help??|
This is because it is incredibly hard to describe something which cannot be seen, cannot be heard, cannot be smelled, cannot be touched and cannot be tasted.
The electronics industry, by definition, has been around just a few years longer than the computer software industry. Sit and observe a cpu, memory chips, or even the venerable 741 IC in operation and it is equally hard to measure or describe what is going on. However, you can buy memory from any one of a dozen manufactures and stick it in your PC, or mp3 player, or camera and it will work just fine.
By contrast, the software industry continues to re-invent every building block used by every program on every system over and over. It reminds me very much of the early days of the car & motorcycle industries where each component was individually crafted for each vehicle.
I said a bit more on this in Re^2: What do you call yourself? & Re^4: What do you call yourself?, and a lot more in Re: How do you view programming, and even more in Re: (OT) Programming as a craft, Re: Re: Re: (OT) Programming as a craft & Re+: (OT) Programming as a craft (loong post. Even by my standards!).
As a coder, I enjoy trying to invent rounder wheels (along with hovercraft, monorails, helecopters and rockets ships; not to mention those designs for an 8-legged vehicle that can walk on ceilings and the snake-car that can traverse land an water without roads using an fuel economic motion. :). As a one-time project leader/manager/architect, I know that until we in the software industry manage to agree on a few basic, re-usable, interchangable, replaceable, software component standards--and agree to use them, universally--software will continue to be one-off works of art! Replicated as in reproductions, but each individually created for it's purpose, platform etc.
As I said. I want software metrics. I want to be able to describe a requirement, or a subcomponent of it, in terms of smaller, standardised subcomponents. I want to be able to mix'n'match those subcomponents from multiple sources. I want to be able to assess and compare those components via some consistant and verifiable, industry standard metrics.
I should be able to choose a sort implementation based on my criteria: For application A, I choose an implementation that trades ram for speed, cos speed is paramount. For application B; I'll choose a low-memory implementation, because that's more important that absolute performance.
I shouldn't have to write these, just download them (with or without fee) as binary components from any standard sort supplier. I could even ship my program without a sort. The customers machine would interogate the local system and either use the one currently available--if it meets the specification I embed in the application--or goes out to the intranet; or the internet; and pulls one that does from a preferred supplier, or the first complient one that Google throws up.
This utopian vision (IMO) has to happen. Useful , comparable, standardised metrics are the first step to achieving it. I just don't see source code complexity as a useful measure. At least not until you also have a way of measuring the complexity of the problem the same software solves. If you had both, then you could divide the latter by the former to produce a "complexity of implementation" ratio that might be useful.
Until then you may as well compare the goodness of art by the size of the canvas divided by the number of brush-strokes used. Rolf Harris would do well:)
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