Software evaluation

LaptopAngel.jpgThe following evaluation is a short, free, online version of the full sustainability evaluation that the Institute can perform for your project.

It takes about 15 minutes to complete the questionnaire, which gives you the opportunity to review the main issues that affect the sustainability of your software. At the end of the evaluation, a report will be generated and emailed to you with sustainability advice that is tailored to your project.

All questions are mandatory and need to be completed before you can progress through the evaluation.

What's covered by the online evaluation?

The online evaluation investigates the following areas of your software:

  • What does your software do?
  • Support
  • Documentation
  • Plans for the future
  • Availability of your software
  • Source code structure
  • Open standards
  • Building from source
  • Installing the binary
  • Testing
  • Portability
  • Community
  • Contributor policy
  • Identity
  • Copyright
  • Licences


Professional software evaluation

If you would like the Software Sustainability Institute to conduct a full evaluation of your software, please get in touch. The full sustainability evaluation is a far more extensive and thorough version of the online evaluation, and will result in a detailed report compiled by one of our software experts…

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LaptopAngel.jpgBy Mike Jackson, Steve Crouch and Rob Baxter

How do I figure out if this software is "good"?

Assessing the quality of software - either your own or someone else's - is a tricky balance between hard objectivity and the very subjective (but very valid) individual user experience.  The Software Sustainability Institute provide a software evaluation service based on two complementary approaches developed over many years in the research software arena.  The service can help you to improve your software. It can assess the general usability, and can identify technical or development issues, as well as any barriers to sustainability

Why write this guide?

This guide describes the two approaches we take to software evaluation, providing a set of guidelines that researchers and developers may find useful in performing their own assessments of code quality, usability and overall sustainability.

How to go about evaluating software

The two approaches we use are complementary; either can be used, and sometimes one approach makes more sense than the other.

Our criteria-based approach is a quantitative assessment of the software in terms of sustainability, maintainability, and usability. This can inform high-level decisions on specific areas for software improvement. This approach forms the basis of our online sustainability evaluation, a web-based assessment you can…

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By Steve Crouch, Research Software Group lead

With Autumn just around the corner, September has seen some exciting activities within the Institute’s Research Software Group. We’re helping improve the testing of Grid accounting software used by the Large Hadron Collider, we’re assessing the sustainability of a web service that supports greater fitness, and we’ve had a record number of applications into the recently closed Open Call!

The Open Call

The sixth and latest round of the Institute’s Open Call closed at the end of September, and despite the usual slow summer months we received a total of 23 applications this time - a new record! We’re reviewing these applications now, and we’ll be letting applicants know the result of this review by the end of October.

So if you didn’t manage to get an application in this time, the good news is that another next round of the Open Call is planned to open in January 2016. We’ll keep you updated with details!

Integration testing Grid accounting software

We’re often asked how to improve the testing of software, and we’re working with the Research Infrastructure Group, based at Daresbury Laboratory and Rutherford…

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OSS Watch app

By Mike Jackson, Software Architect.

The UK open source service, OSS Watch, have recently published their Openness Rating tool. This tool allows projects to assess their openness and can be applied to both open and closed source software. In this blog post, I'll provide a summary of the Openness Rating tool and how it complements our own online Sustainability Evaluation Service.

Openness Rating Tool

OSS Watch provide independent consultancy on all aspects concerning both use and development of free open source projects. They developed the Openness Rating tool to support this consultancy and have used it in-house for years. The tool asks users to answer 51 questions, grouped into 5 categories:

  • Legal Issues: software licensing and whether the code can be read, modified and redistributed.
  • Data Formats and Standards: data and communication formats, use of closed/proprietary or open standards, use of project management processes (e.g. PRINCE 2, XP).
  • Knowledge: availability and location of information and communications about the project and its software and any…
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This software evaluation report is for your software called: softwarename. It is a list of recommendations that are based on the survey questions to which you answered "no".

How to get hold of this report

The URL of this page is personalised to your answers, so if you want to see this report again, simply copy the URL.

What happens if there's no more text?

If no text appears below this paragraph, it means you must already be following all of the recommendations made in our short evaluation. That's fantastic! We'd love to hear from you, because your project would make a perfect case study. Please get in touch!

Q1 - What does your software do?

Question 1.1: Does your website, READMEs and documentation provide a clear, high-level description of your software?

The fundamental question about your software is what does it do?. A potential user should be able to easily find a one- or two-sentence description of your software in every user resource: the website, all documentation and any READMEs.

It can be difficult to quickly summarise your software, especially when you’ve spent months coding hundreds of exciting and powerful features. However, unless you catch the attention of a potential user very quickly, you risk losing them as a real user!

Question 1.2: Does your website, READMEs and documentation clearly describe the type of user who should use your software?

Very little software is designed for users from all backgrounds. If your software is only designed for people…

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