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Scenes of Software Inspections:
Video Dramatizations for the Classroom
by Lionel E. Deimel


In the software engineering community, there is widespread consensus that the effective generation of software artifacts—and particularly code—can be improved using some formal review technique wherein the artifacts are carefully examined by human readers for defects. Such reviews are often called software inspections, though other names are sometimes used. The details of the process have often been the subject of quasi-religious arguments and have too seldom been the object of empirical investigation. By whatever name and however practiced, Inspection meetingsoftware inspections remain a powerful software engineering tool, albeit one that seems very resource-intensive.

In 1991, while I was a Senior Computer Scientist at the Software Engineering Institute, I created an “educational materials package” on the subject of software inspections. The package consists of a videotape and a report. The videotape contains a series of vignettes depicting how and how not to conduct an inspection. The scenes were originally created for an interactive CD-ROM technology called Digital Video Interactive that never quite got off the ground. I rescued the scenes from their technological black hole, put them into a more conventional format, and wrote a short report on inspections and how the scenes could be used to teach about inspections. Scenes of Software Inspections: Video Dramatizations for the Classroom (citation) may be less compelling as a report than as a report with videotape, but visitors may still appreciate being able to read the written material by itself.

 

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— LED, 5/31/2007

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