|By Wayne Ariola||
|November 5, 2006 11:00 AM EST||
Standard industry best-practices were able to help game developers prevent and detect many errors that C/C++ developers commonly encounter. Practices such as coding standard enforcement, unit testing, runtime error detection, and regression testing help the developers - ranging from inexperienced to expert - produce better code. With these practices, many errors are prevented, and the errors that were introduced are rooted out as early as possible - when they are fastest, easiest, and cheapest to fix.
Considering the tight timelines that are characteristic of the gaming industry, it is critical that attempts to improve quality do not impact the gaming developers' already busy schedule or disrupt the creativity that is critical to keeping ahead of competitors. That's why it's critical to automate these practices. For minimal disruption, the practices are configured to run behind the scenes - for instance, overnight, as part of an automated build process - then alert developers only if a problem is found. Much testing can be done without user intervention, by scanning the code and executing it with automatically-generated test cases. Of course, the more effort developers put into the testing, the greater benefit they get out of it. For instance, to improve code coverage, developers could analyze the coverage achieved by automatically-generated unit tests, then extend these tests to cover a larger percentage of the code and/or to verify specific functionality requirements.
Automating the implementation of these key industry practices helps the gaming developers overcome many of the challenges associated with producing top-quality software in a high-pressure environment and working on teams that have many inexperienced developers. However, it does not help them with one of their toughest tasks: correctly interacting with graphics libraries.
As I mentioned earlier, there are two main graphics libraries used by game developers and other developers creating high-resolution graphics: OpenGL and DirectX. OpenGL, introduced by SGI in 1992, is the most widely-used and supported interface for realistic 2-D and 3-D high-resolution graphics. It is an open, vendor-neutral graphics standard that works on a wide variety of platforms, including Linux. DirectX is a group of technologies for running and displaying multimedia applications on Microsoft Windows and Xbox. We found that the best way to prevent errors related to library misuse was to customize the coding standards analysis practice and technologies to automatically check OpenGL and DirectX rules as well as the standard C/C++ rules. The basic set of rules, based on the guidelines set forth in the libraries' specifications, includes over 30 rules for avoiding pitfalls with OpenGL and DirectX API development. DirectX rules checked include:
- Use the macros SUCCEEDED() and FAILED() to check if a DirectX function has failed
- Include stdafx.h at the beginning of the file
- Use D3DVALUE instead of float
- Effects should be closed (End()) in the reverse order in which they were opened (Begin())
- Use Pass() between Begin() and End()
- Don't call other functions in the same line as a Begin call
- Don't call other functions in the same line as an End call
- Don't change Effect ::Technique between Begin() and End(); call End() first
- Don't use #include more than 10 times
- Use an equal number of lock calls and unlock calls
- Don't use exclusive mode
- Don't call BeginScene() twice without first calling EndScene()
- Use the appropriate number and order of "Begin" and "End" functions calls
- Use the appropriate number and order of "NewList" and "EndList" functions calls
- Use GL commands between a Begin/End pair
- Use GL commands between a NewList/EndList pair
- Don't use designated functions in Begin/End blocks
- Don't use designated functions in NewList/EndList blocks
- Don't use designated functions outside Begin/End blocks
- Don't use an End block without a Begin in each NewList/EndList block
- Don't use forbidden bracket commands between a Begin/End pair
- Don't use forbidden bracket commands between a NewList//EndList pair
- Use only GL functions between every Begin/End block
- After every Begin(GL_LINES), use the count of "vertex" function calls divided by 2
- After every Begin(GL_TRIANGLES), use the count of "vertex" function calls divided by 3
- After every Begin(GL_QUADS), use the count of "vertex" function calls divided by 4
- After every Begin(GL_POLYGON), use more than 4 vertexes
- Don't use the function ÔLoadMatrix' to initialize a matrix
- Don't use the function ÔMultMatrix' to change a matrix
- Don't use negative vertex and texture coordinates
- Don't use more than one GL command in a single line
- Don't use more than five levels of functions calls
In addition, we provided the game development organization with a technology that allowed them to design and check custom rules that verify compliance with additional guidelines. These custom rules could be used to check additional OpenGL or DirectX guidelines that the team decides are helpful, check guidelines for custom graphics libraries, and check additional requirements unique to their organization, technologies, projects, etc.
Process Improvement Solutions
Truly implementing a practice in a team requires not just the appropriate tools, but also the team culture, workflow, and supporting infrastructure required to embed the practice into the team's development process.Teams that attempt to implement practices with tools alone typically do not achieve the expected quality improvement benefits. For instance, assume that a team tries to implement the coding standards enforcement practice by only purchasing a coding standards enforcement tool and asking each developer to use that tool. Over time, it's likely that most of the coding standard violations will remain in the code. Why? Without additional team-wide support for the coding standards enforcement practice, developers typically become overwhelmed by the number of problems reported and do not know how to approach them. The tool helps the team members recognize the faults in their code, but if the developers do not have the necessary support, the faults remain and the code quality does not significantly improve.
The Parasoft AEP Methodology details one strategy for embedding best-practices into a team's development process. In a nutshell, the AEP Methodology is a new methodology for improving software quality and increasing the efficiency of a team's software development lifecycle. It is based on the AEP Concept, which is essentially to learn from your own mistakes and the mistakes of others, and then automatically apply that knowledge in the software lifecycle to make software work. The basic principles of the AEP methodology are:
- Apply industry best-practices to prevent common errors and establish a foundation for full-lifecycle error prevention.
- Modify practices as needed to prevent unique errors.
- Ensure that each group implements AEP correctly and consistently.
a. Introduce AEP on a group-by-group basis.
b. Ensure that each group has an appropriate supporting infrastructure.
c. Implement a group workflow that ensures error prevention practices are performed appropriately.
- Phase in each practice incrementally.
- Use statistics to stabilize each process, and then make it capable.
By applying the previously mentioned best-practices within the AEP methodology, gaming development organizations gain the following benefits:
- Higher quality: Fewer errors are introduced into the code, and introduced errors are identified and fixed early in the cycle (when fixing them is generally less difficult, time-consuming, and costly).
- Fewer schedule slips, faster time to release: Because of the improved error prevention and error detection, less time is required for end-of-cycle debugging, and games are more likely to pass the independent validation in the first attempt.
- Easier, faster software updates: Team code reflects a standard style, not individual preferences, and meets a predetermined quality standard. When an organization wants to enhance or extend popular game, misunderstandings/buried errors don't impede the process.
- More proactive management: Increased visibility into code quality, test scope, project readiness, and team productivity helps management identify problems as they arise and start resolving them as soon as possible.
Even if you're not one of the relatively few developers working on games for Linux, you can still benefit from the lessons we learned by working with gaming organizations.
There is a growing tendency to use Linux for high-resolution graphic development, which shares many of the same challenges as game development. As many industries working on high-resolution graphics are looking to move from SGI systems, they are finding that porting legacy code to Linux is much faster and cost-effective than porting it to Windows. Linux is already emerging as the platform of choice for developing and running graphical work for animation projects (including major projects at DreamWorks, Pixar, and Sony Pictures), special effects, and film production. In addition, Linux is becoming a popular operating system for other high-resolution graphics applications, such as computer aided design, medical devices, and geographical imaging systems.
Developers in these industries face many of the same challenges as developers in the gaming industry. For instance, developers working on high resolution graphics in any of these industries are all too familiar with crazy deadlines, long hours, low tolerance for graphical errors or other errors, and the need to master standard graphics libraries (for Linux, OpenGL) and/or custom graphics libraries.
Consequently, the same technical solutions and process improvement solutions that help developers in the gaming industry can help developers working on other high-resolution graphic projects - or even in other industries with similar pressures and development environments. The automation of practices such as coding standards analysis, unit testing, runtime error detection, and regression testing helps ensure that common coding problems don't delay intense production schedules. To verify compliance with guidelines for standard graphical libraries, guidelines for other technologies that the application interacts with, and unique organizational or project requirements, the coding standards analysis practice can be extended to check custom rules. And, to ensure that these practices become an enduring and seamless part of the development process, they can be implemented within the AEP framework.
Almost two-thirds of companies either have or soon will have IoT as the backbone of their business in 2016. However, IoT is far more complex than most firms expected. How can you not get trapped in the pitfalls? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Tony Shan, a renowned visionary and thought leader, will introduce a holistic method of IoTification, which is the process of IoTifying the existing technology and business models to adopt and leverage IoT. He will drill down to the components in this fra...
Sep. 26, 2016 01:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,613
SYS-CON Events announced today that Numerex Corp, a leading provider of managed enterprise solutions enabling the Internet of Things (IoT), will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Numerex Corp. (NASDAQ:NMRX) is a leading provider of managed enterprise solutions enabling the Internet of Things (IoT). The Company's solutions produce new revenue streams or create operating...
Sep. 26, 2016 01:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,953
IoT is fundamentally transforming the auto industry, turning the vehicle into a hub for connected services, including safety, infotainment and usage-based insurance. Auto manufacturers – and businesses across all verticals – have built an entire ecosystem around the Connected Car, creating new customer touch points and revenue streams. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Macario Namie, Head of IoT Strategy at Cisco Jasper, will share real-world examples of how IoT transforms the car from a static p...
Sep. 26, 2016 12:30 AM EDT Reads: 1,536
I'm a lonely sensor. I spend all day telling the world how I'm feeling, but none of the other sensors seem to care. I want to be connected. I want to build relationships with other sensors to be more useful for my human. I want my human to understand that when my friends next door are too hot for a while, I'll soon be flaming. And when all my friends go outside without me, I may be left behind. Don't just log my data; use the relationship graph. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Ryan Boyd, Engi...
Sep. 26, 2016 12:30 AM EDT Reads: 1,245
SYS-CON Events announced today that Pulzze Systems will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Pulzze Systems, Inc. provides infrastructure products for the Internet of Things to enable any connected device and system to carry out matched operations without programming. For more information, visit http://www.pulzzesystems.com.
Sep. 26, 2016 12:15 AM EDT Reads: 1,819
If you’re responsible for an application that depends on the data or functionality of various IoT endpoints – either sensors or devices – your brand reputation depends on the security, reliability, and compliance of its many integrated parts. If your application fails to deliver the expected business results, your customers and partners won't care if that failure stems from the code you developed or from a component that you integrated. What can you do to ensure that the endpoints work as expect...
Sep. 25, 2016 10:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,583
The Internet of Things can drive efficiency for airlines and airports. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Shyam Varan Nath, Principal Architect with GE, and Sudip Majumder, senior director of development at Oracle, will discuss the technical details of the connected airline baggage and related social media solutions. These IoT applications will enhance travelers' journey experience and drive efficiency for the airlines and the airports. The session will include a working demo and a technical d...
Sep. 25, 2016 10:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,699
SYS-CON Events announced today that Commvault, a global leader in enterprise data protection and information management, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Commvault is a leading provider of data protection and information management solutions, helping companies worldwide activate their data to drive more value and business insight and to transform moder...
Sep. 25, 2016 09:30 PM EDT Reads: 2,503
The Transparent Cloud-computing Consortium (abbreviation: T-Cloud Consortium) will conduct research activities into changes in the computing model as a result of collaboration between "device" and "cloud" and the creation of new value and markets through organic data processing High speed and high quality networks, and dramatic improvements in computer processing capabilities, have greatly changed the nature of applications and made the storing and processing of data on the network commonplace.
Sep. 25, 2016 09:00 PM EDT Reads: 930
SYS-CON Events announced today that Bsquare has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. For more than two decades, Bsquare has helped its customers extract business value from a broad array of physical assets by making them intelligent, connecting them, and using the data they generate to optimize business processes.
Sep. 25, 2016 07:30 PM EDT Reads: 2,617
Fact is, enterprises have significant legacy voice infrastructure that’s costly to replace with pure IP solutions. How can we bring this analog infrastructure into our shiny new cloud applications? There are proven methods to bind both legacy voice applications and traditional PSTN audio into cloud-based applications and services at a carrier scale. Some of the most successful implementations leverage WebRTC, WebSockets, SIP and other open source technologies. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Da...
Sep. 25, 2016 05:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,563
The vision of a connected smart home is becoming reality with the application of integrated wireless technologies in devices and appliances. The use of standardized and TCP/IP networked wireless technologies in line-powered and battery operated sensors and controls has led to the adoption of radios in the 2.4GHz band, including Wi-Fi, BT/BLE and 802.15.4 applied ZigBee and Thread. This is driving the need for robust wireless coexistence for multiple radios to ensure throughput performance and th...
Sep. 25, 2016 02:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,531
Enterprise IT has been in the era of Hybrid Cloud for some time now. But it seems most conversations about Hybrid are focused on integrating AWS, Microsoft Azure, or Google ECM into existing on-premises systems. Where is all the Private Cloud? What do technology providers need to do to make their offerings more compelling? How should enterprise IT executives and buyers define their focus, needs, and roadmap, and communicate that clearly to the providers?
Sep. 25, 2016 02:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,525
SYS-CON Events announced today that SoftLayer, an IBM Company, has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York, New York. SoftLayer, an IBM Company, provides cloud infrastructure as a service from a growing number of data centers and network points of presence around the world. SoftLayer’s customers range from Web startups to global enterprises.
Sep. 25, 2016 01:00 PM EDT Reads: 852
There is little doubt that Big Data solutions will have an increasing role in the Enterprise IT mainstream over time. Big Data at Cloud Expo - to be held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA - has announced its Call for Papers is open. Cloud computing is being adopted in one form or another by 94% of enterprises today. Tens of billions of new devices are being connected to The Internet of Things. And Big Data is driving this bus. An exponential increase is...
Sep. 25, 2016 12:45 PM EDT Reads: 2,486
DevOps at Cloud Expo, taking place Nov 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 19th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long dev...
Sep. 25, 2016 12:15 PM EDT Reads: 3,397
Digital innovation is the next big wave of business transformation based on digital technologies of which IoT and Big Data are key components, For example: Business boundary innovation is a challenge to excavate third-party business value using IoT and BigData, like Nest Business structure innovation may propose re-building business structure from scratch, as Uber does in the taxicab industry The social model innovation is also a big challenge to the new social architecture with the design fr...
Sep. 25, 2016 12:15 PM EDT Reads: 1,128
Data is an unusual currency; it is not restricted by the same transactional limitations as money or people. In fact, the more that you leverage your data across multiple business use cases, the more valuable it becomes to the organization. And the same can be said about the organization’s analytics. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Bill Schmarzo, CTO for the Big Data Practice at EMC, will introduce a methodology for capturing, enriching and sharing data (and analytics) across the organizati...
Sep. 25, 2016 11:45 AM EDT Reads: 1,659
The many IoT deployments around the world are busy integrating smart devices and sensors into their enterprise IT infrastructures. Yet all of this technology – and there are an amazing number of choices – is of no use without the software to gather, communicate, and analyze the new data flows. Without software, there is no IT. In this power panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists will look at the protocols that communicate data and the emerging data analy...
Sep. 25, 2016 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,581
SYS-CON Events announced today that China Unicom will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. China United Network Communications Group Co. Ltd ("China Unicom") was officially established in 2009 on the basis of the merger of former China Netcom and former China Unicom. China Unicom mainly operates a full range of telecommunications services including mobile broadband (GSM, WCDMA, LTE F...
Sep. 25, 2016 10:30 AM EDT Reads: 1,708