Understandability in Software & Coding: A Definitive Guide

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Write automated tests in the form of both unit-tests and system-tests to ensure that your engineering team can safely refactor that complexity away. Put in high-quality observability tools to help you gain a high-level understanding of the system. Automate your integration and deployment pipelines to enable you to improve and iterate fast.

What is understandability of a product

When you start working on a new project for the first time, everything usually seems quite clear, including the steps you need to follow to write the necessary code. With the rise of Software as a Service (SaaS) and other new software delivery paradigms, many organizations are practicing total ownership of software, empowering engineers to take responsibility for the application throughout its lifecycle. Discover new ideas and insights from senior practitioners driving change in software.

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As with Reliability, the causes of performance inefficiency are often found in violations of good architectural and coding practice which can be detected by measuring the static quality attributes of an application. These static attributes predict potential operational performance bottlenecks and future scalability problems, especially for applications requiring high execution speed for handling complex algorithms or huge volumes of data. With shoes, this “understanding” is more about familiarity, rather than actually understanding how to use the product (I assume that even back in the ‘80s when the Air Max 1 was released, people understood that it was to be placed on the foot). When it comes to a radio, for example, labelled buttons are useful and nothing is clearer than a short piece of text saying “increase volume”, or a small icon of a loudspeaker.

  • On the other hand, we have also challenged the assumption that Understandability can always be improved by tackling complexity and designing and writing better, simpler software.
  • We all had that eureka moment where a colleague approached us to report a bug, and even before we finished the sentence, we knew what was wrong and in which line of code should fix it.
  • At the same time, this allows engineers to develop faster because the modules can be easily integrated from one application to another.
  • In order to achieve understandability, we highly recommend that you understand what is at its core.
  • They are usually provided as error traces or in a tree-like structure to guide through the systems source code or operational behavior.

Charging at complexity head-on is no longer a viable approach to improving Understandability. With little to no access to data, developers often have to choose between working slowly without data, or enduring endless deployment cycles in an attempt to get the data they need. Speedy access to data eradicates that and ensures that they understand their software, leaving them much time to drink that java and write new features. Compared with the Semantic Web, the semantic link network is a study of the content networks. Its main task is to unveil the nature and the rules of evolving semantic link network where humans evolve in their lifetime, and to develop the method for discovering the semantic link network and making use of it. It uses a semantic space to specify the semantics of nodes and links, and conduct relational reasoning, which pursues rationality rather than correctness.

Operationalized quality models

You can say that understandability is achieved when developers on all levels can make updates to it in a way that is clear, safe, and predictable, all without breaking current functionalities. On the other hand, we have also challenged the assumption that Understandability can always be improved by tackling complexity and designing and writing better, simpler software. More often than not, we find ourselves boarding the train midway through, with little or no control over how it got there.

What is understandability of a product

Changeability and Extensibility—When an abstraction “exposes” or “leaks” implementation details through its public interface, the clients of the abstraction may depend directly upon its implementation details. This direct dependency makes it difficult to change or extend the design without breaking the client code. A scheme that could be used for evaluating software quality factors is given below.

It can be applied early in the software development life-cycle and it is not dependent on lines of code like the somewhat inaccurate Backfiring method. The method is technology agnostic and can be used for comparative analysis across organizations and across industries. Depending on your system, time on task might not be relevant and therefore you need a different metric. In these situations, consider collecting the number of errors users make for a given task. One common misconception is to think that understandability and observability are the same. The second one focuses on the ability to alert the dev team when the system misbehaves and help them identify the causes of any problems, so that normal service can be restored.

Observability is not Understandability

Unfortunately, in complex software environments, more often than not, that’s not the case. Back in my early days at Rookout, I had the privilege of working with a large and well-known enterprise. As it turned out, one of their engineers could not log on to that application.

understandability

Map the semantic link network of sentences into the semantic link network of concepts. Understandability—Developers can become confused about which abstraction to use when there are two or more abstractions with identical names or implementation. A program cannot be expected to work as desired if the developers of the program do not, in fact, know the program’s desired behaviour in advance, or if they cannot at least determine its desired behaviour in parallel with development, in sufficient detail. The idea of perfect detail is attractive, but may be impractical, if not actually impossible. This is because the desired behaviour tends to change as the possible range of the behaviour is determined through actual attempts, or more accurately, failed attempts, to achieve it.

What is understandability of a product

The substantial problem here is that, due to lack of visibility, it is almost impossible to see how even a small change affects the overall code. A lack of observability will, more often than not, cause the development team to move very slowly. The first one represents the most basic implementation, while the second one is trickier. Essentially, it means that your application can effortlessly be comprehended by developers, both by those who created it and by those who join along the way.

By gaining understandability, collaborating on code or handing off code becomes a non-issue. You are able to get the exact data you need to comprehend what’s going on, without the pain of getting there and twisting your brain into circles. Ever written code, walked away, then came back and looked at your code and was a bit confused as to what was happening there? Well, in any event, understanding code you wrote yourself is difficult enough, and throwing code someone else wrote into the mix often becomes downright impossible. There’s nothing worse than having that pesky bug at the back of your mind while you’re writing new code. By understanding your code, you’ll be able to debug like it’s as easy and pleasurable as lying on a beach in the Bahamas or winning at Call of Duty.

An example of a programming error that lead to multiple deaths is discussed in Dr. Leveson’s paper [1] (PDF). In the United States, both the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) have requirements for software development. When a system is understandable, engineering operations become a straightforward process. It doesn’t matter if it’s developing new features, tackling customer issues, or updating the system configuration. When you comprehend the software, you know how to execute in a consistent, reliable manner, without unnecessary back and forth. One consideration when it comes to testing learnability is prior experience with similar systems.

What is understandability of a product

This will make the code much easier to understand and read, as this technique achieves a separation of concepts. Thus, each module is independent of the others and each module has a single purpose. Let’s say that you have a new developer joining the team and they are taking a look at the code for the first time. If the code is written according to a known pattern that they are acquainted with, then there’s a high chance that they already know where to look to solve a particular problem or where to find the implementation for a specific job.

We’d love to talk to you and help where needed, if you’d like to commiserate or ask questions. Please feel free to engage with either directly Liran on Twitter (@Liran_Last) or with us on PagerDuty’s community forum! You can also listen to the Page It to the Limit podcast that accompanies this blog post, here.

In addition, to make navigation clear and fluid, everything will be placed where you expect it to be, along with well-designed buttons that feel intuitive. Animation and illustration are useful tools in web design, as they can depict ideas visually while reflecting https://www.globalcloudteam.com/ the brand’s vibe and adding to the overall user experience. As technology evolves and enables many new possibilities, designers are faced with the challenge of creating websites, apps and other products that are innovative, while still being understandable.

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