“So what?” test for software

It is widely known that any published text must pass the “so what?” quality gate. The following post tries to extend this to software.

Imagine that you have a scripted language code (in my sample, apache maven) which allows the caller to provide values to one or more variables.

Within the pom.xml file, there is a line like:

<commandlineArgs>${data.directory}</commandlineArgs>

And the caller is able to provide a value to the variable, with the call

mvn install -Ddata.directory=/home/theuser

So far so good, but what about if the structure is much complicated, and the user misspells the variable name in the command line call? In this case, no error or warning is issued, the variable uses the default value. This only because the interpretor is unable to question “so what?” the command line.

The implementation of such a feature is difficult: the software should be able to keep track of the variables, their definition source and the amount of accesses. If an user defined variable had no accesses then is as good candidate for the “so what?”

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