Quality is an elusive goal throughout the software industry. The common assumption is that there simply is no efficient way to improve quality without significantly lengthening the development cycle, increasing development costs, or both.
Releasing quality software on schedule and on budget is almost impossible. Ever-shorter development cycles, limited engineering and QA resources, and increasing software complexity have combined to cause a decrease in the quality of software and an increase in the number of software defects. The economic impact from these defects is extremely high. Software defects are the leading cause of downtime for mission-critical applications and cause serious damage to the software's eventual direct or indirect users and to the development organization.
The software engineering community has long known that software inspection is an effective technique for removing defects with substantial long-term benefits. Inspection succeeds because it detects and removes critical errors early in the development process, before code reaches testing or deployment.
Automated Software Inspection (ASI) technologies are now emerging. These technologies, delivered as commercial tools or services, can locate many common programming faults - the same faults that can cause some of the most damaging failures. The strategy behind ASI is to analyze the source code before it is tested and identify potential problems in order to re-code them before they manifest themselves as programming bugs. The most innovative aspect of automated inspection is its ability to debug code even before it has been executed.
This paper discusses the reasons why ASI is needed, looks at the defects ASI can detect and how they are found, describes the technology behind ASI and how it complements traditional testing techniques, and compares and contrasts the available solutions.
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