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Software Metrics Tools that are 'Pushed' by companies

In the last period of time I have been involved in different projects where quality is extremely important. Because of this we started to look around us and search for tools that can measure the quality of software (of the code itself) – software/code metrics.
This is why, this year I had some posts related to Sonar and different software metrics. Personally I looked on different tools that can measure this metrics and can share the content in a consistent and easy way. Until now, my search stopped over Sonar – that is a great tool, but can give you headaches when you need to configure it.
There are many companies that tracks the software metrics. This is a very good think. But in the same time I observed that this companies usually push only one tool that can be used to measure this metrics – THE TOOL. For them it is not important what kind of language you use for developing or if the given tool suites your needs. For them that tool is a standard and you need to obey.
Is this a good or bad thing?
From my opinion, the main scope of the company should be to ensure that for each project the metrics are measured and the team take them into consideration. The most important thing are the metrics them self, not the tool which is used to measure the metrics.
Why the tool is not important?
First of all different teams may feel conformable with different tools. The team should have the freedom to choose the tools that they like, as long as they respect the client or company standards. We are different and we have different preferences.
Also trying to push ‘the’ perfect tool for a job can create a lot of configuration and management problems. For example what happens if you have 20 teams that use a Sonar server and one of the team say that the update to the new version of Sonar or of a specific plugin cannot be made because there is an issues in the new version (of Sonar/plugin) that affect them? Another case can if you have 3 projects that are over 5M of lines of code.  In this cases you can have performance problems only one instance of the tool to measure and visualize the metrics.
If to push a tool as a standard, after a period of time you can realize that on the market the tool that you use is obsolete and there are new tools that make the job better. If you let each team to use any kind of tool, as long as the tools does what is required than you have better chance to use the best tools that are on the market all the time – natural selection. If one the market there is a tool that is perfect you can be sure that a large number of teams will use it.
The best scenario is to end up with 2 or more teams that wants to use the same tool and wants to share the same server. In this case it is clear that you will have the same tool for multiple teams. But this decision needs to come in a natural way from the team’s itself – not pushed by the management.

From the company perspective, it is important to create standards related to code quality and look at software metrics. This standards should require different metrics to be measured, but the tools that are used to make the measure should not be pushed. I’m not a fan to measure software metrics only to measure them. Because of this, the value of metrics has no value if no one interpret the results and take them into consideration.

Comments

  1. There is a reason some companies try to standardize on a set of tools (for metrics or something else) - learning curve, technical support and/or price.. The projects come and go, the team members come and go in projects that take many years, new projects appear where a few developers must become productive in a matter of days..

    Thats's why a big company usually have to standardize on a set of tools, but let a team choose another tool if they have a good reason for it and can afford the cost of learning it and training new members each time they join the project.

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