Anywhere, Anytime Code Inspections: Using the Web to Remove Inspection Bottlenecks in Large-Scale Software Development.

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The dissemination of critical information and the synchronization of coordinated activities are critical problems in geographically separated, large-scale, software development. While these problems are not insurmountable, their solutions have varying trade-offs in terms of time, cost and effectiveness. Out previous studies have shown that the inspection interval is typically lengthened because of schedule conflicts among inspectors which delay the (usually) required inspection collection meeting.

We present and justify a solution using an intranet web that is both timely in its dissemination of information and effective in its coordination of distributed inspectors. First, exploiting a naturally occurring experiment (reported here), we conclude that the asynchronous collection of inspection results is at least as effective as the synchronous collection of those results. Second, exploiting the information dissemination qualities and the on-demand nature of information retrieval of the web, and the platform independence of browsers, e build an inexpensive tool that integrates seamlessly into the current development process. By seamless we man an identical paper flow that results in an almost identical inspection process.

The acceptance of the inspection tool has been excellent. The cost savings just from the reduction in paper work and the time savings from the reduction in distribution interval of the inspection package (sometimes involving international mailings) have been substantial. These savings together with the seamless integration into the existing environment are the major factors for this acceptance. From our viewpoint as experimentalists, the acceptance came too readily. Therefor we lost our opportunity to explore this tool using a series of controlled experiments to isolate the underlying factors or its effectiveness. Nevertheless, by using historical data we can show that the new process is less expensive in terms of cost and at least as effective in terms of quality (defect detection effectiveness). (Also cross-referenced as UMIACS-TR-97-17)