good software

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The next time you notice something being done in Excel where you work, take a moment to question whether it’s the right tool for the job, or whether you or someone in your organisation is a tool for allowing its use. No, not my words, but from the FT’s consistently excellent Alphaville blog. The point […] Read more

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In computing parlance, unlike normal life, bugs and viruses have nothing to do with each other. A bug is simply a fault, or error, while a virus is a malicious program that propagates from computer to computer by hiding itself inside another program or document. Legend has it that the term bug was invented by […] Read more

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Think about it for a moment. Do 10% of spreadsheets contain errors? Or 20% (for the pessimists among you)? These rates are high, and should be enough to make alarm bells ring, but the actual rates are probably far higher. A few years ago Professor Ray Panko, at the University of Hawaii, pulled together the […] Read more

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There are many reports of extremely high occurrence rates for bugs in spreadsheets. From reading them, you might think that very few spreadsheets are error-free. However, many people who are aware of the likelihood of errors in spreadsheets go to great lengths to find and remove them. I have found few significant errors in the […] Read more

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What is the difference between good software and bad software? It is reasonably easy to recognise the extremes when we encounter them, but there is a set of criteria that can be used to explain the differences. These criteria are also useful when building or modifying software, as they can be used to help make […] Read more

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Correctness

When we say that a piece of software is correct, we mean that it does the right thing: in other words, it produces the right numbers, and exhibits the right behaviour. This is clearly a Good Thing, and is why correctness is one of the criteria for good software. In order to tell whether a […] Read more

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Performance

Performance can affect usability, usefulness and availability. Software that takes too long to perform its functions rapidly becomes difficult and unpleasant to use, thus making it both less useful and less usable. For real time systems, of course, performance is even more of an issue and is an important aspect of correctness. The other aspect of […] Read more

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There is no point in building a software system unless it is available for use. Availability can be compromised in a number of ways: The software doesn’t run on the equipment available to the users It often crashes The network over which it runs is unreliable … Availability is often an issue with real time […] Read more

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Usefulness

There is no point in building a piece of software if it is not going to be used, and it won’t be used unless it is useful to someone. There is often a temptation to build something just because you can: you can see a really nifty way of doing it, and fancy the challenge […] Read more

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Good software must be maintainable. It is very rarely the case that a piece of software is developed once and then never nedds to be changed again during its lifetime. This is especially true of user-developed software such as spreadsheets, whose big advantage is that they are easily modified. Even if the requirements do not […] Read more

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