Background

Lines of code (LOG) or source lines of code (SLOC) have been the traditional way of estimating the size of an application. Although intuitively appealing, estimating or counting lines of code have several disadvantages. First, many organizations develop applications using different programming languages, platforms, tools, and so on. An IT project developed in Visual Basic and SQL Server will be difficult to compare to a mainframe-based COBOL application. Moreover, experienced and talented programmers tend to write more efficient code than novice programmers. As a result, experienced programmers may write fewer lines of code than novices and still accomplish the same thing. In addition, no set standard exists for determining what exactly should be counted. For example, should remarks or documentation lines be counted? What about the initialization of variables? Although counting lines of code seems fairly straightforward, the actual implementation becomes problematic.

To overcome many of the inherent problems with counting LOG, Allan Albrecht proposed the idea of function points at a conference sponsored by IBM in 1979. The basic concept behind function points is to focus on the functionality of the application. After all, the size and complexity of an application (and subsequently the number of lines of code to be written) are based upon what the application must do. Function points provide a synthetic metric, similar to hours, kilos, and degrees Celsius, for software engineering that gives consistent results, regardless of the technology or programming language used.

In the early 1980s, statistical analysis provided the means for refining the function point technique. Since 1986, function point analysis rules and guidelines have been overseen by a nonprofit organization called the International Function Point Users Group (IFPUG). The IFPUG maintains the Counting Practices Manual that contains all the current guidelines and certification for counting function points under the IFPUG standard. The material in this appendix will be based upon the latest counting practices by IFPUG.

You should know, however, that there is an alternative way of counting function points. In 1983, Charles Symons, working for Nolan, Norton, and Company (later acquired by KPMG Consulting) critiqued Albrecht's proposed function point technique and argued the existence of several flaws. As a result, Symons proposed an alternative

Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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