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Applying inspection to object-oriented software

Macdonald, F. and Miller, J. and Brooks, A. and Roper, M. and Wood, M. (1996) Applying inspection to object-oriented software. Software Testing, Verification and Reliability, 6 (2). pp. 61-82. ISSN 0960-0833

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The benefits of the object-oriented paradigmare widely cited. At the same time, inspection is deemed to be the most cost-effective means of detecting defects in software products. Why then, is there no published experience, let alone quantitative data, on the application of inspection to object-oriented systems? We describe the facilities of the object-oriented paradigm and the issues that these raise when inspecting object-oriented code. Several problems are caused by the disparity between the static code structure and its dynamic runtime behaviour. The large number of small methods in object-oriented systems can also cause problems. We then go on to describe three areas which may help mitigate problems found. Firstly, the use of various programming methods may assist in making object-oriented code easier to inspect. Secondly, improved program documentation can help the inspector understand the code which is under inspection. Finally, tool support can help the inspector to analyse the dynamic behaviour of the code. We conclude that while both the object-oriented paradigm and inspection provide excellent benefits on their own, combining the two may be a difficult exercise, requiring extensive support if it is to be successful.