Code quality frameworks describe code quality characteristics and their decomposition. For Enterprise software development, one model stands out: the ISO/IEC 25010, which was launched in 2011.
In ISO/IEC 25010, software quality is divided into two broad dimensions: (1) product quality and (2) quality in use.
Product quality decomposition
Product quality relates to the static and dynamic properties of the software proper. It is divided into 8 characteristics:
- Functional Suitability
- Performance Efficiency
Quality in use decomposition
Quality in use relates to the outcome of human interaction with the software. It is divided in 5 characteristics:
- Freedom from risk
- Context coverage
Going one step further with product quality sub-characteristics
The characteristics listed above are pretty high level, but ISO 25010 goes one step further by defining a set of sub-characteristics.
In the case of functional suitability these are:
- Functional Completeness: degree to which the set of functions covers all the specified tasks and user objectives.
- Functional Correctness: degree to which the functions provides the correct results with the needed degree of precision.
- Functional Appropriateness: degree to which the functions facilitate the accomplishment of specified tasks and objectives.
- Time-behavior: degree to which the response and processing times and throughput rates of a product or system, when performing its functions, meet requirements.
- Resource utilization: degree to which the amounts and types of resources used by a product or system, when performing its functions, meet requirements.
- Capacity: degree to which the maximum limits of the product or system, parameter meet requirements.
- Appropriateness recognisability: degree to which users can recognize whether a product or system is appropriate for their needs.
- Learnability: degree to which a product or system enables the user to learn how to use it with effectiveness, efficiency in emergency situations.
- Operability: degree to which a product or system is easy to operate, control and appropriate to use.
- User error protection: degree to which a product or system protects users against making errors.
- User interface aesthetics: degree to which a user interface enables pleasing and satisfying interaction for the user.
- Accessibility: degree to which a product or system can be used by people with the widest range of characteristics and capabilities to achieve a specified goal in a specified context of use.
- Maturity: degree to which a system, product or component meets needs for reliability under normal operation.
- Availability: degree to which a product or system is operational and accessible when required for use.
- Fault tolerance: degree to which a system, product or component operates as intended despite the presence of hardware or software faults.
- Recoverability: degree to which, in the event of an interruption or a failure, a product or system can recover the data directly affected and re-establish the desired state of the system.
- Confidentiality: degree to which the prototype ensures that data are accessible only to those authorized to have access.
- Integrity: degree to which a system, product or component prevents unauthorized access to, or modification of, computer programs or data.
- Non-repudiation: degree to which actions or events can be proven to have taken place, so that the events or actions cannot be repudiated later.
- Accountability: degree to which the actions of an entity can be traced uniquely to the entity.
- Authenticity: degree to which the identity of a subject or resource can be proved to be the one claimed.
- Modularity: degree to which a system or computer program is composed of discrete components such that a change to one component has minimal impact on other components.
- Reusability: degree to which an asset can be used in more than one system, or in building other assets.
- Analyzability: degree of effectiveness and efficiency with which it is possible to assess the impact on a product or system of an intended change to one or more of its parts, or to diagnose a product for deficiencies or causes of failures, or to identify parts to be modified.
- Modifiability: degree to which a product or system can be effectively and efficiently modified without introducing defects or degrading existing product quality.
- Testability: degree of effectiveness and efficiency with which test criteria can be established for a system, product or component and tests can be performed to determine whether those criteria have been met.
- Adaptability: degree to which a product or system can effectively and efficiently be adapted for different or evolving hardware, software or other operational or usage environments.
- Installability: degree of effectiveness and efficiency in which a product or system can be successfully installed and/or uninstalled in a specified environment.
- Replaceability: degree to which a product can replace another specified software product for the same purpose in the same environment.
- Coexistence: degree to which a product can perform its required functions efficiently while sharing a common environment and resources with other products, without detrimental impact on any other product.
- Interoperability: degree to which two or more systems, products or components can exchange information and use the information that has been exchanged.
Quality in use sub-characteristics
Effectiveness: accuracy and completeness with which users achieve specified goals.
Efficiency: resources expended in relation to the accuracy and completeness with which users achieve goals.
- Usefulness: degree to which a user is satisfied with their perceived achievement of pragmatic goals, including the results of use and the consequences of use.
- Trust: degree to which a user or other stakeholder has confidence that a product or system will behave as intended.
- Pleasure: degree to which a user obtains pleasure from fulfilling their personal needs.
- Comfort: degree to which the user is satisfied with physical comfort.
Freedom from Risk
- Economic Risk Mitigation: degree to which a product or system mitigates the potential risk to financial status, efficient operation, commercial property, reputation or other resources in the intended contexts of use.
- Health and Safety Risk Mitigation: degree to which a product or system mitigates the potential risk to people in the intended contexts of use.
- Environmental Risk Mitigation: degree to which a product or system mitigates the potential risk to property or the environment in the intended contexts of use.
- Context Completeness: degree to which a product or system can be used with effectiveness, efficiency, freedom from risk, and satisfaction in all the specified contexts of use.
- Flexibility: degree to which a product or system can be used with effectiveness, efficiency, freedom from risk and satisfaction in contexts beyond those initially specified in the requirements.
Where ISO 25010 falls short
ISO 25010 is a great addition for enterprise software teams who want a framework to define software. By breaking down quality characteristics into sub-characteristics, developers can go on to define software metrics that make sense for their project.
It does not provide a comprehensive and systematic mapping of sub-characteristics to software metrics. That’s because individual circumstances matter a lot: code quality in the context of an online news site is one thing. Code quality for an automated high-frequency trading software has a completely different range of consequences; and code quality of embarked software on airplanes can be a matter of life or death. In sum, the stakes in each of every development projects are different, and call for different priorities, metrics, and contingency plans.
- ISO website. Link.
- Software metrics: A practical guide for the curious developer. Link.
- The ultimate guide to code reviews. Link.
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