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Toward Zero Defect Programming Paperback – Sep 14 1998


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional; 1 edition (Sept. 14 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0201385953
  • ISBN-13: 978-0201385953
  • Product Dimensions: 1.6 x 15.8 x 22.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 417 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #3,021,145 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Format: Paperback
As in the title, this book is for programmers that start programming without thinking first. Although, if you are this kind of programmer, there are better books out there than this one.
In half of the book, Allan M. Stavely explains how to create unreadable comments that specify the intended function of your code. These comments are most of the time copy of the code that they are supposed to explain, making them worthless. All these book chapters prose are wordy and tedious. If you want to write comments that explain the intended function, use plain English, or follow minimum standards as specified in Code Complete by Steve McConnell.
Also, Stavely attempts to take us in a brief and monotonous introduction to code inspections, but he names them verifications. Additionally, he gives an introduction to incremental programming, without providing us with any fresh idea.
These book ideas apply mostly to procedural top-down design programs. It dismisses must of the modern languages structures (exceptions, templates, etc.), and it gives a really low-level introduction on how to apply this to object oriented programming.
Chapter 10 has good ideas about how to implement testing using context-free grammars and percentages.
Implementing this book in an organization is hard and it needs support from management. If you are a single developer or tester, don't even bother reading this book.
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Format: Paperback
Dr. Allan Stavely has done for the Cleanroom Software Engineering method what Martin Fowler did for the Unified Modeling Language in his book "UML Distilled." He's analyzed the best and most useful parts of the Cleanroom method and found a great way to present them. After reading this book, you'll be controlling defect rates and shortening development times on your own software projects.
For those not in the know, the Cleanroom method is a set of practices pioneered by the late Harlan Mills. The idea is to use some simplified mathematical formalism along with group verifications. The result? You shift time away from hack-and-slash debugging towards review. Often, the entire start-to-finish development time is shortened.
With object-oriented languages and template instantiation times, this is a really good thing: the compile-debug-test cycle is far too painful and too slow to support today's shortened deadlines.
The key to Cleanroom is that the mathematical formalism is simplified and "just enough." Stavely demonstrates the typical structures found in programs and shows how intended function statements (the math part) are used in the group review (the verification part) to discover defects in the code. Later, a testing group exercises the paths through the code that users are most likely to take, giving statistical metrics on mean-time to failure and feedback into the quality of the method's practice.
Stavely's conversational writing style makes grasping the material efficient. Each chapter focus on just one aspect of the method, and exercises at the end test how well you grasped the material. Although Stavely includes hints to the answers for selected questions, I would've preferred complete answers to all the questions.
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By A Customer on Feb. 9 1999
Format: Paperback
This book is a clear, practical introduction to the Cleanroom method. Though designed as a textbook, it is also suitable for professionals.
It includes a useful bibliography, with suggestions at the end of the chapters for further reading. The final chapter sketches some areas not covered, giving references.
There are some areas intentionally omitted or only sketched, though references are provided. These include: (1) using "black boxes, state boxes, and clear boxes" for top-down development. (2) introducing Cleanroom methods in an organization (3) organizing a Cleanroom team.
Mathematically, the book is very easy going. For example, some methods which, technically, would require proof are not proved. Those of us who easily digest such details can readily fill in gaps, while others are probably happy to be spared.
The book provided an unusually high return of useful content per unit time invested in reading it, and as such I recommend it highly.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 3 reviews
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Cleanroom method---distilled! Jan. 19 2000
By Sean Kelly - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Dr. Allan Stavely has done for the Cleanroom Software Engineering method what Martin Fowler did for the Unified Modeling Language in his book "UML Distilled." He's analyzed the best and most useful parts of the Cleanroom method and found a great way to present them. After reading this book, you'll be controlling defect rates and shortening development times on your own software projects.
For those not in the know, the Cleanroom method is a set of practices pioneered by the late Harlan Mills. The idea is to use some simplified mathematical formalism along with group verifications. The result? You shift time away from hack-and-slash debugging towards review. Often, the entire start-to-finish development time is shortened.
With object-oriented languages and template instantiation times, this is a really good thing: the compile-debug-test cycle is far too painful and too slow to support today's shortened deadlines.
The key to Cleanroom is that the mathematical formalism is simplified and "just enough." Stavely demonstrates the typical structures found in programs and shows how intended function statements (the math part) are used in the group review (the verification part) to discover defects in the code. Later, a testing group exercises the paths through the code that users are most likely to take, giving statistical metrics on mean-time to failure and feedback into the quality of the method's practice.
Stavely's conversational writing style makes grasping the material efficient. Each chapter focus on just one aspect of the method, and exercises at the end test how well you grasped the material. Although Stavely includes hints to the answers for selected questions, I would've preferred complete answers to all the questions. That'd make the book more useful outside of a classroom setting.
Transcripts of review sessions show how the method succeeds in the group review. Although hypothetical, Stavely based them on actual review sessions taken by his coworkers and students over the years. They help guide newcomers to the method on how to conduct the verification step.
Overall, this is a great introduction to the Cleanroom method and after finishing the book you'll be able to introduce it to your own group in no time. Buy a copy for everyone on your team!
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Excellent Feb. 9 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book is a clear, practical introduction to the Cleanroom method. Though designed as a textbook, it is also suitable for professionals.
It includes a useful bibliography, with suggestions at the end of the chapters for further reading. The final chapter sketches some areas not covered, giving references.
There are some areas intentionally omitted or only sketched, though references are provided. These include: (1) using "black boxes, state boxes, and clear boxes" for top-down development. (2) introducing Cleanroom methods in an organization (3) organizing a Cleanroom team.
Mathematically, the book is very easy going. For example, some methods which, technically, would require proof are not proved. Those of us who easily digest such details can readily fill in gaps, while others are probably happy to be spared.
The book provided an unusually high return of useful content per unit time invested in reading it, and as such I recommend it highly.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Laudable goal, useful thoughts Nov. 20 2009
By Jay P. Vansanten - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Minimizing defects when writing software is a goal that all programmers seek. Typically, a programmer will reflect and develop strategies after the "heat of the battle." Books that provide a systematic approach to a particular aspect -- that of logical correctness -- are not that common -- particularly those directed towards programmers rather than academicians -- so any addition to the literature is welcomed.

Before reading this book, I was unfamiliar with either Cleanroom Software Engineering or Harlan Mills, who is credited with conceiving the method. It was developed by IBM in the 70s, and adopted more widely in the company in the 80s. Since that time, its influence has spread beyond IBM.

In my reading, the heart of the method is a logical formalism which represents the operation and flow of a program in a language-neutral fashion. This is described straightforwardly in the text, and other aspects of the software development process are described from the CSE point of view.

For the programmer, this approach most basically moves the focus from "what am I doing" to "how am I doing it." Considerations of logical branching and set completeness of operations come to the fore through this analysis. This is an essential step in moving from a coder to a programmer. In a team setting, this provides a "style neutral" approach to identifying the logical structure of each member's program contribution.

I feel somewhat about this formalism they way I felt about flow charts in college. The concept is good. The visual provided by flow charts is helpful as a training approach. But, the formalism simply replicates the logic of the application.

At the same time, well-constructed code with well-chosen function and variable names can pretty much emulate the symbolic representation of CSE. So, I'd go a step further and suggest that one simply model one's coding style on the formalism. That avoids the double work and duplication of the program logic.

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