Software-quality tools focus on concurrency

Coverity and Worksoft will this week reveal wares intended to improve software quality, focusing respectively on concurrency and ease of use.

Coverity is announcing its Coverity Prevent 2.3 source code analyzer, which features improvements to identify concurrent programming defects in source code, the company said. An example of such an error would be one that could occur in an account balance access program, in which locks are needed to prevent multiple accesses simultaneously. A developer may forget to write in code to release the lock, thus holding up the data set.

"It's difficult to find concurrency problems in general because you have to depend on, for example, timing of events with respect to each other. That's something that's difficult to produce in the lab," said Andy Chou, CTO and co-founder of Coverity.

The product focuses on three concurrency problems: double locks and missing unlocks, incorrect lock ordering, and blocking operations within critical sections. These errors can lead to severe and unpredictable performance degradation, according to Coverity. A concurrency analyzer in Prevent 2.3 uncovers these issues.

Concurrency is set to become a bigger issue in programming with the advent of dual-core multiprocessors, Coverity said. "As far as concurrency is concerned, the emergence of dual-core processors makes concurrent programming much more prevalent."

Coverity counts as its customers companies such as Oracle and Cisco Systems and organizations such as NASA. But its software particularly can benefit the automotive industry, with manufacturers looking to software for product differentiation but having to avoid conflicts between systems, according to Thilo Koslowski, lead automotive analyst at Gartner.

"There's a huge potential. You may not have tested, as a car manufacturer, all the potential scenarios of how these applications work together," Koslowski said.

Automotive-related customers of Coverity include Denso, which builds automotive parts such as dashboard control systems, and Xanavi, which builds telematics offerings such as navigation systems.

Coverity also has developed plug-in support for Prevent to function inside the Eclipse and Rational Software Architect IDEs. Another improvement in Prevent 2.3 is better support for C++ virtual function calls. With virtual function calls, calls are selected to run at run time. Version 2.3 finds more bugs in these instances, Chou said.

Version 2.3 reduces the number of false positives in error reporting and adds Mac OS X as a supported platform, the company said.

Shipping by the end of the year, Prevent 2.3 is sold on an annual subscription basis, with costs determined by the number of lines of code being tested. A subscription for a 1 million-line program costs US$80,000.

Worksoft is unveiling a refreshed version of its Certify automated software testing product, featuring the ability to scale to large groups of users and a new user interface.

Featuring test management, test automation and a test framework, Certify Enterprise 7.0 scales to thousands of developers, quality assurance analysts, and business analysts when used in distributed, collaborative development efforts. Previously, the product was limited to approximately 70 to 100 users in such an environment.

"It's a complete refresh of our technology and stack," said Linda Hayes, CTO at Worksoft.

Certify differs from competitor products in that it does not require use of a scripting language; thus people with a domain expertise, such as business analysts, are able to use it because development skills are not required, Hayes said. "It's one of the problems that our software solves."

"What we've done is we built a data model that describes an application and allows a user to build a test through just a GUI," Hayes said.

An automation architecture in Certify runs tests directly from documentation, without the need for scripting, she said. Functional testing is performed on operations such as business processes.

The point-and-click user interface in Certify features enterprise-level security and the ability to be centrally administered for thousands of users.

Worksoft says Certify 7.0 reduces time and cost of test automation by 60 percent or more. Testing is provided across Web, client/server and mainframe applications via Web services and other XML-based messaging platforms through a single interface. SOA testing is supported, the company said.

The product stores and maintains all test scenarios in a central database.

Certify Enterprise 7.0 is set to ship Dec. 15. Pricing will range from US$5,995 to US$6,995 per seat.

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