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Total quality

Posted by Dominic Cronin at Mar 25, 2006 11:00 AM |
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Total quality

I used to work in manufacturing industry. I made cookers and fridges, and mechanical excavators, and bits of trains. I was a manufacturing engineer, and I spent my time trying to make it better. Much like now, when I'm a computer programmer (hey, that shit was 15 years ago or something), and every day I'm trying to make it better.

Back then, it was a given that it was impossible to ship a 100% defect-free car (or substitute for car any manufactured item of equivalent complexity). Nowadays, it's a given that you can't ship defect-free software (or at least that it would be prohibitively expensive to do so).

So when you buy a car nowadays, how likely do you think it is that you'll be able to drive it for at least six months without taking it to the garage? Pretty likely eh?

And now to the crux of it - we've come to accept that it's impossible (or commercially infeasible) to produce defect-free software. Fifteen or so years ago, the Japanese motor companies started shipping defect-free cars as a matter of routine. The rest of the world's car manufacturers couldn't hide any more. They had to start doing the same thing.

Software development techniques are at a similar crossroads right now, with test driven development etc. Who will be the first to start routinely delivering 100% defect-free software products?

Who said it couldn't be done?
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