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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

What is meant by peer review in software testing?

In the process of software development at every stage the software system or application under development has to be reviewed be it before its completion or after its completion. Many techniques have been designed to carry out an effective review of the software systems or applications.

What is Peer Review in Software Testing?

- Peer review is one such technique employed in software testing.

- Peer review is a type of software review technique which involves the examination of the software product or code or documentation by its author or developer as well as by his/ her colleagues for the evaluation of the quality of the product and its technical content.

- The number of peers for carrying out a peer review may vary from one to any number the author wishes.

- The process of peer review is aimed at providing an engineering practice which is well disciplined for the detection as well as the correction of the bugs and errors in the software product.

- It is also aimed at the prevention of the defects from leaking in to the operational field.

- These aims of the peer review have been defined on the basis of the CMM or capability maturity model.

- Peer reviews form an essential part of the software development cycle and proves to be very helpful in the detection of the bugs in the early stages of the software development.

- A requirements problem as identified by the peer review during the requirements testing is a lot easier and cheaper to rectify than what it would have been in the development stages of the software testing and architecture.

Now the question comes “how the peer review is different from the other kinds of reviews?”

- Peer reviews are somewhat different from their counterpart of management reviews.

- The management reviews are performed by the management representatives rather than by colleagues as in peer review.

- The management reviews are focussed up on the control and management purposes and not on the technical evaluation like the peer review.

- Peer reviews are also a way apart from the software audit reviews in the way that the software audit reviews are carried out by the personnel external for the evaluation of the level of compliance with the standards, specifications and agreements etc.

- Several formal and informal approaches have been designed for carrying out the peer reviews.

- Buddy checking is one informal approach.

- Some formal approaches are:

1. Technical peer reviews
2. Walk throughs and
3. Software inspections.

- The roles, processes and structures for the above mentioned formal processes are governed by the IEEE standards.

- Management representatives are chosen to carry out a peer review only very rarely when specific technical expertise is required or when the documentation to be reviewed is of management level.

- The third formal approach i.e., software inspection involves the assignment of specific roles to the participants, quantification of the stages by defining the entry and exit criteria, and capturing of the software metrics.

- The peer review carried out for the open sources is commonly known as open source review.

Advantages of Peer Reviews

- Peer reviews have always been observed as a powerful methodology for a great improvement in the software quality.

- A peer review can be performed in many forms like an inspection, team review, pair programming, peer desk check or pass around etc.

Which approach is to be followed is decided on the basis of the rigor, cost, spectrum of formality and of course effectiveness!

The cheapest review method should be selected that is more effective in reducing the project associated risks. But, the inspections are always the best approach and are fit for both high level and low level risk projects.

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