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1. ## software metrics definition

I was asked by a colleage what the definition of software metrics is - apparently it came up when they were reading about cyclomatic complexity. I started to reply then I realized I really didn't know myself. Checked out Google and found everything but a definition; I must've asked the wrong questions I guess. Any help here would be appreciated.

Thanks
Blair

2. ## Re: software metrics definition

Measurement provides an idea of the application complexity. It can help in planning the test effort and in predicting how many defects there are and where they occur. Measurement can tell us how thorough were our tests, how many errors are in the application, when do we stop testing, how many test have we planned versus how many have we run to date, etc

3. ## Re: software metrics definition

Hmm, okay so are you saying measurement and metrics are synonymous ?

4. ## Re: software metrics definition

Well Yes - The definition of a Metric is 'A standard of measurement'

5. ## Re: software metrics definition

Originally posted by Blair:
Hmm, okay so are you saying measurement and metrics are synonymous ?
<font size="2" face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica">No, they most certainly are not synonymous. This is a common problem with current metrics strategies that people fail to understand the distinction between the two.

See my article The Metric vs. The Measure. Also see the first section of my article Goal-Focused Measurement.

6. ## Re: software metrics definition

Cryptonomic - Your article is very informative about the differences, but the Two words only differ slightly, I've seen both words freely interchanged when people in the software industry refer to software metrics; thus it makes but little difference. A metric is a measure no matter which way you look at it, therefore making them synonymous or interchangeable.

7. ## Re: software metrics definition

Cryptonomic - Your article is very informative about the differences, but the Two words only differ slightly, I've seen both words freely interchanged when people in the software industry refer to software metrics; thus it makes but little difference.
<font size="2" face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica">It can depend on the situation. If there is no operational reason to make a distinction, then one does not have to. But in the same way that people often confuse "process" and "methodology", people often confuse "metric" and "measure" and the articles talk about why this can be a bad thing because one can serve as the basis for the other. (People often treat "process" and "methodology" as "synonymous and interchangeable".) It may not effect someone in their particular context; but it pays to consider why they are two different terms.

A metric is a measure no matter which way you look at it, therefore making them synonymous or interchangeable.
<font size="2" face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica">Well, as my articles show, this is not necessarily true. There is a way to look at it (that very successful companies do and that I do) that means they are not synonymous or interchangeable. So it is not "no matter which way you look at it". What is more appropriate to say is that some people may be in situations where the distinction does not matter (it makes no operational difference). In that case, I agree: do not make the difference. But many metrics programs that are advocated do make a distinction and sometimes metrics methods that you will come across also make the distinction.

As you state, a metric is "a standard of measurement". That implies they are not the same thing in all cases. It is a type of measurement or it is a way of looking at a measurement - which is what my articles show. A meter, for example, is a standard of measurement denoting a distance and so is a kilometer. Both can be treated as a metric in the absolute sense that relate to a specific measurement. That can also apply in terms of metrics and measures in project based situations, again as the articles show.

But I would be happy to debate any parts of the articles that are thought to be an error.

8. ## Re: software metrics definition

Jeff - I don't disagree with anything in your article, it actually shone a little more light on metrics for me, but I guess the point I was trying to make is that a vast majority of people in the software industry use both words interchangeable probable beacuse of the lack of knowledge that there is a difference no matter what context they're used in.

9. ## Re: software metrics definition

but I guess the point I was trying to make is that a vast majority of people in the software industry use both words interchangeable probable beacuse of the lack of knowledge that there is a difference no matter what context they're used in.
<font size="2" face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica">Agreed. That is why when people say they are synonymous, I pipe in with the notion that they are often not. While I agree it is the case that people often fail to make appropriate distinctions, I consider it part of my duty to at least indicate that distinctions are possible and then try to indicate where those distinctions should be made. Again, however, your point is very valid: too many people treat metrics and measures in an off-hand fashion and that is why, I feel, many metrics programs either fail or do not indicate the true state of affairs, thus leading to problems with true indicators of project status.

10. ## Re: software metrics definition

Crypto, forgive me I haven't read your articles yet (I will shortly though!).

However, would you agree that although this thread is speaking to the "specifics" of software metrics and measurements, that there are times and situations, such as interviews, where they are synonomous due to the fact that the speaker doesn't know what it is they really mean?

One example being a job interview where one is asked if they can provide software metrics to their manager, and how much have they done. In that case, my opinion is that the interviewer is not really aware of the way measures and metrics are used when defining software testing results, or attempts etc.

And in several posts in the past, I have stated to people, when asked about metrics, that indeed it's just a way of counting and more specific details about the request are necessary before one can answer a question like that.

Did that make sense or I am talking in circles again... [img]images/icons/blush.gif[/img]

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