Excellent Presentation on What We *Really* Know About Software Development

I've been meaning to get to this for a while and finally had time this past weekend. Back in October Greg Wilson did an excellent presentation entitled: Bits of Evidence.p The subtitle is: What We Actually Know About Software Development and Why We Believe It.

His central thesis is that in software engineering we tend to accept too much folklore as fact. We should instead insist on proof.p And not just any proof - he argues for standards that match those of the rest of the scientific world.

One of his best examples is a quote from an article that Martin Fowler wrote for the July/August issue of IEEE Software:p

[Using domain-specific languages] leads to two primary benefits. The first, and simplest, is improved programmer productivity....p The second... is... communication with domain experts.

Wilson points out that Fowler, who is one of the leading thinkers in software engineering, has made two significant claims without providing a single citation.

It's not that Wilson disputes the claims - he just wants to see the proof.

That's a reasonable request and Wilson goes on to provide several examples where proof is available to support or refute many of the ideas that developers take for granted about software engineering. His goal is to ultimately produce a book on the topic - more about that here.

The presentation slides are here.p The audio (which has some rough spots) is here. Highly recommended.



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