Acom Computer Systems and affiliates (Open Universal Software)
have acquired a well-earned reputation for software development.
At Acom, we track our development productivity to established
industry norms and are proud to state that we greatly exceed
them. Our development organization is based on the concepts
of "rapid iterative prototyping" and the "super
Rapid iterative prototyping (RIP) is a methodology that
seeks to get a working product as quickly as possible. Its
goals are to prove the correctness of a design; to get user
feedback on development as quickly as possible; and to add
features that fit the ultimate needs of the user. The methodology
is characterized by quickly having something that works,
and by the easy comparison of the actual development progress
to the projected schedules.
More than most organizations, Acom Computer Systems depends
on "super" programmers and on senior programmers
because we believe in the advantages of a team approach.
Each project is divided into separate components and a team
addresses each component. A team consists of a senior programmer,
several intermediate programmers and at least one quality
assurance engineer. The senior programmer is responsible
for completing the critical path of the project. Auxiliary
work is assigned to intermediate programmers as needed.
Studies have shown that this type of organization tends
to produce software that performs well under stressful situations.
Thus, being more reliable and easier to maintain and enhance.
Portability between hardware and operating systems was
a part of the Application design from the start. The development
department had experience in over 40 different platforms.
To ensure that Applications could be ported to different
UNIX systems with ease, programming standards were established
and maintained from the beginning of the project.
Several IBM development labs have told Acom Computer Systems
that Open/36 has set a new standard for migration in the
midrange industry, a standard that they must now compare
themselves to. Our quality assurance engineers are responsible,
in large part, for this praise. At Acom Computer Systems,
quality assurance is a part of our corporate mindset. When
Senior Technical Editors from the prestigious News 3X/400
Magazine reviewed our development efforts, they were moved
to comment that Open/36 was `the most tested product in
the IBM midrange, at least outside of IBM'.
Our quality assurance engineers are highly qualified (generally
with over 10 years of programming experience) on the UNIX
and IBM platforms. They write a series of regression tests
that test every aspect of the system component. Furthermore,
the suite is self-testing - it performs a test, and then
tests the result automatically. If the suite involves interactive
responses, a PC is used to record the keystrokes that are
required for the test and the terminal images that result.
When the regression tests are completed they become the
baseline documents for each programming team. The programming
team must then write code that executes the same regression
suite without modifications - producing identical results.
The regression tests are critical in maintaining system
integrity. As with any UNIX project written in the C language,
we must regularly recompile all our code to establish a
new integrated baseline. At that time, unexpected problems
can be introduced. We can, however, easily detect such problems
by rerunning our regression tests. They track down any problems
and guarantee that Open/36 works correctly. The regression
tests are also critical in certifying Open/36 on various
Any changes, corrections, and enhancements once tested
in-house are then moved to a pilot site where additional
testing takes place. Products are only released when the
components are fully tested at all levels. No code will
leave our development with known problems “bugs”.