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How to qualify (an originally home-made) computer program for industry application?

How to qualify (an originally home-made) computer program for industry application?

How to qualify (an originally home-made) computer program for industry application?

(OP)
Hello,

I would like to kindly ask your input / suggestion on the following:

If I - as an individual contributor - would develop a computer program for the purpose of mechanical engineering calculations. The software would be tested on a dozen of benchmark cases and outcome could be satisfactory. Consider rigorous methods (you may argue what is rigorous) have been adopted ; at least all technical procedures will be documented as far as quality control is concerned.

I know it is common that software tend to come with disclaimer that the software cannot be guaranteed error free, no responsibility whatsoever for any damage to person or property resulting from the use of the results/data, etc. Even serious / large firm that develop software tend to put such (legal) disclaimer.

Anyway, If plan to deploy the computer program in the industry I would definitely put a legal disclaimer ; still I would invest in any procedure and effort required that would help qualify the product for industrial application.

- Can this qualification be done and who can partner in that (university, firms ?)
- Is it an idea to contact certain companies who could be potential user of the software to help validating the software in an industrial context? Not sure what incentive they would have to do so though...
- Should I put the expectations low, launch the product - grow the list of users / references and then take it from there to expand?

Any thoughts?
Thanks


RE: How to qualify (an originally home-made) computer program for industry application?

I would first do a complete job of documenting the tests that you've already performed.

I would then find several users inside your organization, people who are members of the target community but who have not been involved with the development of the program, and have them test it using real world examples that they would be willing to document for inclusion in your test history.

I would then find at least two or three companies who would be willing to act as beta testers. As for how to incentivize them, if your plan is to sell this software package, you could offer them a free license to help with the testing.

Not necessarily a complete list of activities, but it's a start.

John R. Baker, P.E. (ret)
EX-Product 'Evangelist'
Irvine, CA
Siemens PLM:
UG/NX Museum:

The secret of life is not finding someone to live with
It's finding someone you can't live without

RE: How to qualify (an originally home-made) computer program for industry application?

"- Should I put the expectations low, launch the product - grow the list of users / references and then take it from there to expand?"

Probably. "Perfect" is the enemy of "good enough." Some companies like Facebook, offer bounties for finding errors or faults in their software.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
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RE: How to qualify (an originally home-made) computer program for industry application?

In my industry, I routinely encounter equipment (navigation, control system, etc.) which uses software.
While I have no idea what the standard entails, the reference below is THE standard that all of them adhere to.
If your software package has some critical safety/control function, then you are looking for RTCA-DO-178
So that's the peak of the mountain. How high do you want to climb? smile

Back in the land of mere mortals, I think your original question refers to a software package to perform mathematical analysis of common engineering problems. Perhaps something like Smath or GRAPE. If so, I would recommend you adopt a development model as much like Smath as possible and as little like GRAPE as possible. I picked these two examples because both seem to have been written by a single person, but they have completely different deliveries.

GRAPE only offers users a crappy old website. The software package is a small download, but I've got powerful results out of it. The user interface looks like windows 95. The built-in Help files included with the download are necessary to learn the software, and are well illustrated and quite thorough. Many interesting examples are provided with the download. The author cannot be reached, even by e-mail, and AFAIK it's not being supported any more. The code is not accessible to users, but if you want verification models to evaluate your results, many are provided. The free download is fully-featured, but for commercial use the author politely requests a licensing fee. Since the author can't be reached by e-mail, that's a little difficult... write a letter and post it. This software is the quintessence of free-ware from the 1990's.

Smath is the opposite. The website offers users many ways to interact with the developer, and among each other on a forum. There are frequent software builds, a detailed buglist AND an issues tracker. All the code is open for advanced users to review, offer suggestions/corrections, and apparently this is where the rebuilds come from. The user's forum has more than 10,000 questions posted, so any problem you have is probably answered somewhere - but you have to search for it. The wiki page isn't as complete as it should be, but as a long-time user of Mathcad (the software that SMath emulates) it's hard for me to tell what's missing. Users are continuously donating, shown on the Donations progress bar on the top of the page. So I guess this is the quintessence of free-ware in the late 2010's.

STF

RE: How to qualify (an originally home-made) computer program for industry application?

(OP)
Thanks for the reference to Smath and GRAPE.
I viewed the website, Smath looks interesting. I will keep this in mind.

As for my application, am afraid it is old fashion...I used Fortran to code the program (old version).
In a similar way, I choose to use "typewriter" style of font to make the engineering reports about the program and printouts...its awkward for sales but it gives me fun...I also have glasses :(

RE: How to qualify (an originally home-made) computer program for industry application?

No shame in Fortran. LAPACK is still used by many advance software today.


Kind regards,
Jason

RE: How to qualify (an originally home-made) computer program for industry application?

"ANSI/IEEE 1012 - Standard for Software Verification and Validation" is a good place to start. This is 1 of the 2 standards typically used for V&V in the nuclear industry.

RE: How to qualify (an originally home-made) computer program for industry application?

rotw - what do you mean by "qualify"?

RE: How to qualify (an originally home-made) computer program for industry application?

Part of the question really depends on what you want to do with it.
If you're not intending on making it a commercial exercise, put it up on github or similar, and licence it with one of the open source licences around. Other people get the benefit of it, and the option to contribute to it, and you get to disclaim all liability for use as part of the licence.

If you're intending on making this a commercial venture (and not by charging for support for open sourced code...) then its a completely different argument.

EDMS Australia

RE: How to qualify (an originally home-made) computer program for industry application?

I wrote my last line of FORTRAN over 20 years ago when I "discovered" the beauty of C... translated a FORTRAN program into C and never looked back.

Dan - Owner
http://www.Hi-TecDesigns.com

RE: How to qualify (an originally home-made) computer program for industry application?

(OP)
Hello, I will soon be approaching people from my network to request them some support and involve them to do a "beta testing" of my software application.

In parallel, I have in mind to patent my application but for that I need some funding and nothing is taken for granted in that respect ; irrespective of the outcome of this patenting initiative, I need to move forward. So my priority is to protect my work as much as possible.

Plan is to attach to the software an NDA, hoping it will be signed by the people who will be taking part in this testing phase.
I will try to select people that I regard as "relatively" honest (e.g. former colleagues, consultants, etc). I am aware this is not a bulletproof strategy but I suppose this is the best I can do right now.

Can anyone provide some direction with regard to protecting an application in the context of beta-testing?

- Any example of NDA template, what implications to keep in mind, legal aspects?
- Any do's and don'ts

More generally this is first experience and any orientation is welcome. Thanks in advance

RE: How to qualify (an originally home-made) computer program for industry application?

DO speak with a lawyer to figure out how much of this software will be claimed by your employer as theirs - your situation could be different but usually a company will claim that the software is the company's IP because it was made to help you with work you are doing in your role as an employee of the company.

I'd think that an NDA would have to be drafted by a lawyer but they may be common enough that a template would work.

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