Why Technology Aren’t As Bad As You Think

How Measuring Software through Cyclomatic Complexity Makes a Difference

As an old saying in the IT industry goes, you can’t manage what you can’t measure. Understanding the complexity of an organization’s application portfolio offers insight into how it can be managed best. The biggest problem is that the things that make up software complexity – overwritten and rewritten code, legacy system remnants, etc. – are the very same things that make measuring it a feat.

With a number of system interfaces and intricate requirements, software systems can become too complex that applications and portfolios become too pricey to maintain and too unsafe to enhance. Unless corrected, software complexity can run rampant in finished projects, leaving behind puffed, burdensome applications. In fact, IT professionals would say that to maintain software is to degrade it.

Complexity Metrics

A variety of techniques have fortunately been established for measuring software complexity, among which is cyclomatic complexity, which determines a program’s amount of control flow. Programs that operate with more conditional logic are harder to understand, and measuring its level of cyclomatic complexity reveals how much has to be managed.

Using cyclomatic complexity on its own can bring incorrect results, however. No matter how complex a module is, it can still have minimal interactions with modules on the outside. A module can be comparably simple as well and yet highly coupled with a range of other modules, hence dramatically increasing the total complexity of the codebase. Complexity metrics will be bad in the first scenario. In the second, they will appear to be good, and yet the result will be misleading. In other words, measuring the coupling and cohesion of the modules in the codebase is necessary as well if a true system-level, software complexity measure is to be attained.

There’s a number of ways organizations can take advantage of this information, and the following are the top five:

More Predictability

By knowing the level of complexity of the code, it becomes easier to know how much maintenance will be required for a program.

Software Risk Control

Software complexity management reduces the chances of issues being introduced into production.

Lower Costs

It is important to be proactive when preventing excessive or unnecessary software complexity as this lessens maintenance costs when an organization is ready for eventualities.

More Value

As reported in the last few years, when applications are too complex, they give rise to various issues. When complexity is in check, organizations are able to preserve the value of their applications and also lengthen their use.

Decision Support

There are codes that are so complex that they’re just not worth saving. Proving the costs of a rewrite, it can be decided whether existing code must be kept or a new code must be written altogether.

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