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Audience Questions at SD West 05

During the USPTO-PQS presentation at SD West 05, the audience questions were very insightful, and helped bring out some of the more interesting issues that the presentation had omitted.

  • One student accurately focused on “maintainability” as being a very difficult nonfunctional requirement to state precisely. He was right, and this led to an interesting discussion on some of the approaches which helped with the USPTO project. Andre explained that there are basically two possible approaches to nonfunctional requirements: mandating the activities or mandating a specific outcome. In the case of maintainability, the latter can be measured only by recording actual maintenance effort -- possible but very difficult to test. A requirement that guides the activities is more realistic. An example would be a requirement to use variable naming conventions -- not to mandate some or other specific convention, but to mandate that the developer team will consciously agree on, and use, some or other naming convention, in the interest of maintainability.

  • Another student focused on the fact that several categories of nonfunctional requirements (NFRs) including "availability” and “performance,” are very difficult to monitor in the absence of analytical tools, so as to make the requirements testable. This led to an explanation of how the USPTO generates a wealth of logs that capture this valuable information, and has to a large extent been doing so for years. The recent NFR project helped standardize and improve the logging process so that the person who consolidates and analyzes the logs doesn’t have to deal with so many different formats.

SD West 05 | Andre Co-Presents at SD West 05 | Audience Questions | Cartoon Story | Excellent Speakers

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