Monday, January 16, 2017

IEEE November/December Issue, Blog, SE Radio Summary

November/December Issue

IEEE Software Magazine

The November/December issue of IEEE Software offers a variety of relevant and interesting topics in the software world. From hot topics like crowdsourcing and agile to thought-invoking discussions on how research translates to practice, this issue spans a wide range of topics. Tying together all the articles in this issue is an article on telling the story of computing and the role computer plays in the art of story telling. We as software engineers are artists; specializing in the art of technology and "using our software and our hardware as our brush and our canvas".

Featured in this issue are two articles on the changes in the software world that affect that developer and end user:
  • "A Paradigm Shift for the CAPTCHA Race: Adding Uncertainty to the Process" by Shinil Kwon and Sungdeok Cha, where the authors propose ways to improve CAPTCHA (Completely Automated Public Turing Test to Tell Computers and Humans Apart) challenges for increased human ability and decreased bot ability to solve these challenges; and 
  • "Examining the Rating System Used in Mobile-App Stores" by Israel J. Mojica Ruiz, Meiyappan Nagappan, Bram Adams, Thorsten Berger, Steffen Dienst, and Ahmed E. Hassan,  in which the authors explore how accurately user ratings in app stores maps to actual user satisfaction levels with mobile apps.

A large portion of the papers in this issue discuss the artistry of the software architect and how the role of software architect has been changing, and will continue to change, with the changes in technology:

On one side, as technology changes, the importance of the role of the software architect increases. In "The Changing Role of the Software Architect," Editor in Chief Diomidis Spinellis discusses this phenomena in some detail. As software evolves to play a more ubiquitous role in our lives and store more critical and personal information, the design of our software and systems becomes even more vital to the potential for quality, secure transactions. For example, software architecture plays a direct role in the ability for attackers to find and manipulate attack surfaces, or the places where enemies can target their attacks on a given system. This is such an important topic that research has been devoted to approximating and minimizing attack surfaces [1, 2, 3]. Although approximating an attack surface isn't necessarily an architecture problem, minimizing them is. Having the power to determine the design of a system, especially a critical system, is one that should not be taken lightly.

But as Benjamin Parker warned Spider-man, "with great power comes great responsibility". If software architects are becoming more important to the software development and maintenance process, it naturally follows that responsibilities can, and probably should, change. But how? Articles in this issues make some suggestions. For example, Rainer Weinreich and Iris Groher propose one change to the responsibilities of the software architect in their article "The Architect's Role in Practice. From Decision Maker to Knowledge Manager?". The authors interviewed practitioners to learn about how the role of the architect has transformed. Architects are typically tasked primarily, if not solely, with making decisions regarding the design of the target system. However, they discovered that there are additional responsibilities that come with being a software architect, such as advisor and knowledge manager. All the practitioners the authors interviewed agreed that when it comes to knowledge management it is particularly important to document project-specific decisions. With the changes to the software architect role, there is a growing need for tools and guidelines to support their daily activities. Are we up for the challenge??

IEEE Software Blog

In the past couple months, the IEEE Software Blog covered some interesting and practically relevant topics. New to the blog are postmortems, modeled after Postmortems in, where we give companies an opportunity to discuss what is working and what challenges remain for software developers. December features the company Deducely. Along the same lines, there are blog posts regarding various aspects of the software development process, including using creativity in requirements engineering and how to identify and avoid code smellsAlso featured in the November/December blog entires is a blog on the panel titled "The State of Software Engineering Research", which was held last year at FSE 2016.

SE Radio

Featured for this issue of IEEE Software on SE Radio are topics ranging from soft skills, such as salary negotiation, to hard skills, like site reliability engineering and software estimation. Invited guests include Steve McConnell, Sam Aaron, Josh Doody, Björn Rabenstein, Gil Tene, and Peter Hilton. Also, SE Radio welcomed two new members to the SE Radio team: Marcus Blankenship and Felienne Hermans

[1] Theisen, C., Herzig, K., Morrison, P., Murphy, B., & Williams, L. (2015, May). Approximating attack surfaces with stack traces. In Proceedings of the 37th International Conference on Software Engineering-Volume 2 (pp. 199-208). IEEE Press.
[2]Bartel, A., Klein, J., Le Traon, Y., & Monperrus, M. (2012, September). Automatically securing permission-based software by reducing the attack surface: An application to android. In Proceedings of the 27th IEEE/ACM International Conference on Automated Software Engineering (pp. 274-277). ACM. 
[3] Manadhata, P. K., & Wing, J. M. (2011). An attack surface metric. IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering37(3), 371-386.

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