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Re: [XP] Have you ever heard of "function points"?

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  • Tim Ottinger
    Classic misuse story: A function point analyst was brought into an embedded control project. Because the input was only a single file in tabular form, and
    Message 1 of 4 , Aug 31, 2007
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      Classic misuse story: A function point analyst was brought into an embedded control project. Because the input was only a single file in tabular form, and because it only printed out a dozen or so forms, and because there were only two input screens, he judged the entire effort to be a handful of weeks of effort. The fact that it controlled an enormous warehouse in real time was completely overlooked.

      Function points at the time were all about counting the inputs and outputs in terms of fields on screens and reports. Later FP developments tried to consider mechanical inputs and outputs as well, but were still pretty much predicated on a store-and-report model of software. This is why a system had to be fully written or fully specified for it to work.

      Most interesting software isn't store-and-report, though. And it wasn't so at the time, either.

      ----- Original Message ----
      From: John Roth <JohnRoth1@...>
      To: extremeprogramming@yahoogroups.com
      Sent: Thursday, August 30, 2007 3:12:39 PM
      Subject: Re: [XP] Have you ever heard of "function points"?

      I think other people have said what needs to be said, but
      to recapitulate: function points are an estimating methodology
      that depends on having the entire project scoped up front.

      The methodology is at least 30 years old - they were working
      out the details when I was going to GUIDE in the 70s. As
      one of the other responders said, a well-trained estimator,
      working in a single development environment with a classical
      'requirements up front' methodology can use it to turn in a
      reasonably good estimate for project size.

      I've heard of people using it retrospectively to establish a
      baseline. I've never heard of anyone using it to evaluate a
      purchase, but if the question is build vs buy, it can be a
      useful way of getting a handle on what it would cost to
      build rather than buy.

      John Roth

      ----- Original Message -----
      From: "Esther Schindler" <esther@...>
      To: <extremeprogramming@yahoogroups.com>
      Sent: Thursday, August 30, 2007 10:31 AM
      Subject: [XP] Have you ever heard of "function points"?

      >I could use a sanity check.
      > I'm editing a "contributed article." That means it was written by
      > someone in the industry who presumably has a business agenda -- such as
      > being a vendor -- who nonetheless is tackling a topic based on his
      > expertise rather than product/service based. Think "white paper" in
      > management terms.
      > Anyhow, in this very long <sigh> article, the guy is about to embark on
      > a discussion about how the CEO should evaluate software projects. And
      > the metrics he use are something I haven't heard of, called "function
      > points." Maybe I've been hanging around in the wrong crowd (yeah, that
      > means "with you" <grin>) but I've never heard of 'em before.
      > Here's what he wrote in the article as a definition:
      >> >Function points are becoming the de facto standard for measuring
      > software. A function point is a synthetic metric composed of the
      > weighted totals of the inputs, outputs, inquiries, interfaces, and files
      > which users identify as significant in a software application.<<
      > Have you heard of such things? Are they actually a de-facto standard
      > (regardless of whether you think they SHOULD be) among software managers?
      > Meanwhile, I'd head back into this article edit process... it started at
      > 3900 words, I have it down to 3100, and goshdarnit I'm gonna make it
      > 2500 at the longest.
      > Esther

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