Solid Gold-Plated Software for the Shuttle

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Agile Advice recently posted a link to an old (1996) article from Fast Company discussing how software for the Space Shuttle is produced.

The article profiles the people who write the code and their methods, and bullets out some of the axioms by which they work.

One of the more interesting tools is a program that calculates how many errors should be present in a given release. Then, even if things look ok, they keep testing until they hit the predicted bug count.

Like computer models predicting the weather, the coding models predict how many errors the group should make in writing each new version of the software. True to form, if the coders and testers find too few errors, everyone works the process until reality and the predictions match.

At times, the article chastises us young punks for dressing down and writing buggy code. While I alway appreciate a dose of humility, I think there’s a big difference, both in budget and goals, between launching a REALLY expensive rocket with people in it into space and rolling out a cool new web search.

Nonetheless, it’s a very interesting read, and worth the time.

[link] They Write the Right Stuff

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