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Does Distributed Development Affect Software Quality?

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Numerous research reports and analyses have been devoted to the benefits and challenges of using virtual software development teams. The most significant and indisputable benefit of the distributed-app development software model is the ability to staff your team with the talent of the highest caliber at a much lower price than an on-site team. This is actually the main reason why millions of startups, small companies, midsize businesses  and global tech companies have remote workers within their teams. Additional advantages of virtual teams include a 24-hour development cycle, an increase in productivity and a shorter time-to-market.

 

While some experts in global software development share their success stories, their opponents complain that the quality of software developed  by a distributed team often suffers from time lags, language and cultural differences, lack of control, and communication problems. The negative impact of the distributed-development model on software quality is one of the most widely spread beliefs in software project management so far. Microsoft’s ESM group (Empirical Software Engineering and Measurement Research Group) members were concerned about the issue and recently decided to run their own study.

 

In their empirical study, they looked for statistical evidence that components developed by distributed teams resulted in software with more errors than components developed by collocated teams. Guess what? Christian Bird, University of California, Davis; Nagappan Premkumar Devanbu, University of California, Davis; Harald Gall, University of Zurich, and Murphy found that the differences were statistically negligible!

 

The study measured diverse component characteristics, such as code churn, complexity, dependency information and test code coverage. “Teams that were distributed wrote code that had virtually the same number of post-release failures as those that were collocated,” the report says.

 

Moreover, the ESM group wanted to verify the results and conducted an anonymous survey, asking in software engineering company if they ran into problems. Most people preferred to talk to someone from their own organization 4,000 miles away, rather than someone only five doors down the hall but from a different organization. Organizational cohesiveness played a bigger role than geographical distance. In other words, if your local and remote team members work in the same management environment and have access to the same resources, you will most likely reap the benefits of your virtual team, rather than face the negative side. That’s why, at Murano, we were always big believers in the dedicated team model where an offshore provider manages administrative and logistical issues while the offshore team becomes a cohesive part of the client’s engineering organization.

 

Android Gmail Bug Fix (sort of): E-mail Does Not Refresh in T-Mobile G1 Gmail Application

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As you may know, one of Murano Software’s strong specialties is Android software development. I use the T-Mobile G1 myself, and one of my most-used apps is Gmail. While on the go, I quite often pull my buddy and key in e-mails. Recently Gmail stopped showing new e-mails in inbox, which was very inconvenient. All other Internet-enabled apps and even other features of the Gmail app worked perfectly. For example, I could search the inbox, and I could send new e-mails, but the phone refused to show new e-mails for dedicated developers. They popped up on my Web-based Gmail client as frequently as usual, but they didn’t appear on my Android phone. I, obviously, hit “Refresh” plenty of times, rebooted the phone and tried to pull other tricks, but nothing worked. G1 was quite stubborn. “Time to call a T-Mobile rep,” I’m thinking.

 

I’m on the phone with rep. He’s as friendly as all other T-Mobile reps. But this time he’s not being helpful. He advises me to turn my mobile phone off, take out the battery and turn G1 on, saying that this way, the phone will register on a different cell tower and that this may help. I told him that I already traveled 50 miles across dense suburbia, meaning that I am already on a different tower. I told him that the data worked fine. This didn’t bother my dude. His next advice was worthy of being included in U.S. version of “The IT Crowd,” if somebody is ever going to make one. The rep recommended doing a hard reset on my phone in software companies.  Not good, especially when you are sitting in an airport waiting for your flight.

 

I kindly finished the conversation. Later, I played with my G1 and found a much lighter way of solving the problem. I went to “Settings,” “Applications,” “Manage Applications,” “Gmail Storage” and then clicked on the “Clear Data” button. I also did the same for the “Gmail” application. It helped. My inbox became empty, then the phone synced  with Gmail (it took some time), and I started to get new e-mails. Voila, all without a system reset. I was not asked to reenter my Gmail password or anything like that; my android phone got that figured out by itself.

 

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