Quality Time: Online Inspection Service Launched

Application services specifically for software developers? That's what one vendor now offers, promoting rapid inspection of software code early in the application development cycle.

"Software applications are more complex and more critical than ever before, yet programmers have less time to develop and test them," says Steve Angelo, vice president of marketing at Reasoning Inc. (www.reasoning.com). End users are expecting higher quality in their software applications as well, he adds, as developers are feeling more pressure for quick delivery of code.

The combination of these factors contribute to programming errors, Angelo asserts. "Software failures are costing $85 billion in lost revenues annually."

IT professionals seem to be recognizing the value of inspecting software code, and getting help in doing so. In a recent study by Standish Group International Inc. (www.standishgroup.com), 57 percent of IT executives within Fortune 1000 corporations say they would either consider buying or would definitely buy an annual software inspection contract.

Unlike other inspection offerings, which are delivered to customers as products, Reasoning's new InstantQA is a set of services delivered over the Web. The services combine software technology with human expertise in software integrity analysis and quality assurance, Reasoning officials claim.

InstantQA also takes a new approach to code inspection, company officials say. The methodology focuses on inspecting software for abnormal structures, as opposed to the more traditional route of testing software for application functionality. Aberrations in software code can be eliminated even before the testing phase.

The technology behind InstantQA incorporates Reasoning's Independent Verification and Validation (IV&V) capabilities with a defect-tracking database. The tool also uses a software inspection and a transformation engine known as the Code-Based Management System (CBMS). These are all tools originally developed for Year 2000 code testing.

Reasoning's inspection software runs on Windows NT and Windows 9x, and it is designed to locate software defects in C/C++, Cobol, and Java. Another services offering from Reasoning, called Oracle Transformation Services, automatically transforms legacy code to Java-based applications that are compatible with Oracle Corp.'s Internet Computing Platform (www.oracle.com).

Initially, Reasoning is targeting InstantQA Services at programmers who work for ISVs and dot-com companies, as well as those specializing in embedded systems, says Scott Trappe, senior vice president and general manager of InstantQA Services at Reasoning. But company executives foresee ultimate market potential among all seven million programmers in existence worldwide.

One Internet company, ClearCommerce Corp. (www.clearcommerce.com), is now using Reasoning's InstantQA to inspect the code of its next- generation software engine, which manages online transactions. The ClearCommerce Engine includes real-time transaction processing with credit card processing; fraud analysis and protection; business reports for merchants; storefront integration; APIs to businesses' existing ERP or inventory systems; and shipping and tax calculation.

Reasoning's InstantQA services are performed in the vendor's software QA Centers. Clients send source code to Reasoning's QA Centers via the Internet. InstantQA can be employed before, during, or after traditional testing to improve the effectiveness of test cycles and to inspect internal or third-party code. Reasoning says it can turn around inspected code in about two weeks' time.