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Quality Metrics: Nutritional Labels for Code

May 2017 Presentation
G. Ann Campbell (SonarSource SA)

Nutrition labels give help us make smart choices about the food we eat. Quality metrics are easy to collect and should be as universally available as nutrition labels.


Software Engineering Institute



Software is an increasing part of our everyday lives. From the phones we carry, to the cars we drive, the thermostats that regulate our homes, even our lightbulbs, software is everywhere. But how much do we know about it? How secure is the banking app you use? What bugs might turn your home into a tropical paradise during your next winter trip? How convoluted is the code that runs your car? The last plane you took? The last traffic light you went through? As consumers, we take nutrition labels on food for granted. A few simple, standard numbers let us make smart choices about the food we consume. Similarly, quality numbers should be routinely available for software, which is omnipresent and unavoidable in modern life. As consumers, we should have the data to make smart choices. After all, candy bars will only kill you slowly. Bad code could kill you very quickly.