Mistakes in human creations are inevitable, yet sometimes these errors come at a costly price. When human error causes a malfunction in a software product, it can cause a pile-up of technical debt for the company and the client, potentially leading to software project failure. It’s impossible to overstate the importance of software quality.
Sticking to software quality standards reduces time and money waste and increases the efficiency of the software life cycle. Software quality standards are the most widely-accepted method of reducing uncertainties and increasing predictability in the software lifecycle. Following this philosophy ensures the uncertainties that are commonplace in software design and implementation are at the barest minimum.
This article examines the issue of software quality from the inside out, stresses the necessity of quality standards in software development, and finally, discusses some significant software quality standards developers should understand.
Software powers nearly everything today—business, mobile phones, and even cars. So, a software product’s quality matters.
Software quality can mean many things, depending on who defines the meaning of quality. For example, users and developers may have different definitions of what software quality—and good, quality software—is.
For example, a user’s perspective of software quality could include:
A developer, in contrast, might say that software has good quality if:
Software quality can also be defined by the processes involved in creating software. Software is of good quality, first, if it doesn’t exceed its estimated production budget, and second, if it doesn’t exceed the expected due date for delivery and other requirements.
These definitions offer a holistic perspective of software quality. Considering these three areas also helps identify what tools are needed or aspects to consider in creating good-quality software.
Quality standards are essential in software development. Following are some reasons why.
Generally, doing something once and getting it right the first time saves time and money. This idea is especially true in software development. When development teams consistently apply quality standards in a software development life cycle, they invariably save time and money.
In contrast, not adhering to quality standards in software development can be damaging. For example, some errors can cause substantial financial loss to a firm and, in many cases, the client if not detected in time.
Furthermore, software quality standards are crucial because failure to adhere to these standards can cost extra time and money to fix bugs and mistakes in already released software.
Maintaining quality standards in software development is vital because it helps ensure a product's quality in the market. It builds confidence to compete in the cutthroat software business. Following these quality standards ensures that software products meet a high quality and performance standard, allowing the company to stay ahead of its competition.
Since security has always been a primary concern for software products, software developers must adhere to software quality standards in a product’s life cycle. Vulnerabilities in a software system’s security can jeopardize user data and the software’s trustworthiness. Software quality standards aid in discovering software security flaws and help develop a fully-secure and reliable product.
Software quality is also essential to preserve a company’s name. Controversy resulting from malfunctioning software products can harm a software provider’s market position and goodwill, in addition to causing substantial legal problems in certain situations. More notably, a company’s direct link to its customers can be at risk due to shipping poor-quality software.
At a bare minimum, software quality safeguards a software end-user from using inferior and substandard software, thereby boosting customer satisfaction. Software quality standards ensure that developers check a product to verify that it works according to its specifications. If the application works as customers expect, the customers are happy.
While software developers have long been interested in producing high-quality software, a broader interest in software quality among organizations and even the public is developing. As a result, quality standards are becoming increasingly important.
Here are some of these software quality standards and how they impact software developers and contribute to software quality.
Content Security Policy (CSP) is a feature in modern browsers enabling software developers to set up controls to help protect the application. An application must pass several different kinds of checks or validation before interacting with the browser. CSP aims to reduce vulnerabilities associated with cross-site scripting.
For example, software developers might tell a browser where to find the website's resources and scripts. If the website tries to load scripts and resources from elsewhere, the browser will prevent it. The concept is straightforward. If an attacker attempts to load a script not available through the website policy, the browser blocks it and prevents the attack.
CSP compliance contributes to software quality by allowing developers to use appropriate CSP directives in HTTP response headers. Developers choose which data sources a web application should allow.
The second way CSP compliance contributes to software quality is through setting directives. These directives tell browsers which content sources to authorize and which to block.
Software quality assurance (SQA) is a set of procedures that ensure the processes and methods used in building software comply with known and existing software standards.
It works in two ways. First, SQA identifies shortcomings and errors peculiar to some software, ranging from poor data handling to poorly-written code anywhere in a product’s lifecycle. This detection enables the software developers to make corrections quickly, averting the risk.
SQA also focuses on several software quality characteristics: value, benefit, reliability, dependability, durability, and effectiveness. Focusing on these qualities improves software and ensures that the product is high quality.
This approach adds to software quality by focusing on improving software development processes, minimizing faults in the software development lifecycle, and ensuring that the software development team is doing everything correctly.
Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) is not exactly a software quality standard, but it provides developers with a list of top vulnerabilities to deter. Software developers combine this information with some web application features to ensure security. These features include:
For instance, an attacker may use form input or other data submissions to send untrusted data to a web application. Software developers can avoid attacks of this sort by either validating user data (rejecting suspicious-looking data) or sanitizing user data (cleaning up the suspicious-looking data).
Authentication and login systems are also susceptible to vulnerabilities. Vulnerabilities of this sort can allow attackers to access users' accounts and steal login information such as passwords. One way software developers can control this is by executing two-factor authentication in web applications and using a rate limit to prevent persistent login attempts by users.
The third instance of vulnerability developers should protect against is sensitive data, like financial information that attackers can sell or use for criminal purposes.
By implementing protection from OWASP-listed vulnerabilities, developers can protect users' sensitive information from being stolen. Developers can either encrypt all sensitive data or disable sensitive information caching in browsers.
Coding standards, in a nutshell, are a set of rules and regulations that dictate and direct a programming language’s programming technique, methods, and procedures.
Without these coding conventions, developers in a team will probably settle into their own coding styles, which will undoubtedly make code maintenance and debugging tricky. Not having coding standards may be likened to a lawless society without rules and order. Having coding standards is highly recommended.
Coding standards can vary from one organization to the next. However, most organizations now adopt specific coding standards and style guidelines to ensure the company’s entire codebase is consistently high-quality. It’s important to enforce these standards by linters, static analysis tools, and code review to ensure developers don’t inadvertently commit low-quality code.Some common coding standards are:
Software quality standards are increasingly significant to software development. By ensuring CSP compliance, performing software QA, remaining vigilant for OWASP vulnerabilities, and maintaining coding standards, developers produce software with the best possible quality.
Adopting a quality approach to software development helps save time and money while maintaining application security. Then, these quality-focused organizations can keep customers happy while enjoying a good business reputation. Most of all, quality software helps organizations stay competitive, even in a crowded marketplace.