The Joel on Software Discussion Group (CLOSED)

A place to discuss Joel on Software. Now closed.

This community works best when people use their real names. Please register for a free account.

Other Groups:
Joel on Software
Business of Software
Design of Software (CLOSED)
.NET Questions (CLOSED)
Fog Creek Copilot

The Old Forum

Your hosts:
Albert D. Kallal
Li-Fan Chen
Stephen Jones

definition of Quality

This may have been asked...

What is a good definition of Quality? I believe it was Cockburn that simply said something to the effect of providing value to a business. Was it Cockburn or someone else that said this?

what do others think?

CraigZello Send private email
Monday, October 11, 2004
"Conformance to requirements" - Crosby

"Fitness for use" - Juran

I like Juran's Definition.
Matt H. Send private email
Monday, October 11, 2004
> What is a good definition of Quality?

And what is good, Phædrus,
And what is not good...
Need we ask anyone to tell us these things?

_Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance_ by Robert Pirsig ("").
Christopher Wells Send private email
Monday, October 11, 2004
Zen & was so boring, but the last chapter was mind blowing... but I forgot it within a week. I'll have to re read it. The last chapter, that is, I wouldn't subject myself to the rest again. Send private email
Monday, October 11, 2004
I'm so glad Pirsig wrote Zen, so we never have to answer this question ; )
Christopher Baus
Monday, October 11, 2004
back to defn of Quality...
CraigZello Send private email
Monday, October 11, 2004
Actually, I like the definition:

Quality: meets expectations.

That is, if you advertise your product does XYZ, then it does XYZ. That's all.

It does XYZ perfectly. Bug free.

That is meeting quality.
hoser Send private email
Monday, October 11, 2004
> "Conformance to requirements"

This implies that quality is objective: it exists in the product,

> "Fitness for use"

This implies that quality is subjective: it exists in the eye of the user.

> back to defn of Quality

Whole books have been written about it; _Quality Software Management, Volume 1: Systems Thinking_, to pick another example, starts with that question.

You could also read and

And, it's a circular question: a person who doesn't already know what "quality" is can neither give a "good" definition, nor judge whether a given definition is "good".
Christopher Wells Send private email
Monday, October 11, 2004
There's a surface definition and a deep definition. The surface definition of quality is about expectations, requirements, etc. Pirsig went the deeper route where quality was the medium for understanding everything, so in the end we understood nothing.
son of parnas
Monday, October 11, 2004
Meeting or exceeding a user's expectations against a predefined set of criteria in terms of form, fit, and function.
Monday, October 11, 2004
The programmer's definition:

Quality = Stability

The marketer's definition:

Quality = Pretty GUI

The CEO's definition:

Quality = Sales
I am Jack's positional perspective
Monday, October 11, 2004
There are those who would argue that quailty code is more than meeting the current set of requirements. It has to be elegant, maintainable, extensible, etc. It's a whole additional set of requirements that have nothing to do with meeting the customers expections.
Miles Archer
Monday, October 11, 2004
better than your rivals
redguardtoo Send private email
Monday, October 11, 2004
I think these conversations are fundamentally flawed. QUALITY is a word, and as such can be given any definition you see fit to give it. I.e. how you define it tells you more about the person defining it (or the books they've read) than about what QUALITY is or is not.

It's not like a scientific term, like RED, which has a wavelength of 625-740 nm, and can be defined precisely. Etymologically speaking, there must be a word origin, and a dictionary definition, but the OP could look that up, it's obvious he's looking for a definition that _resonates_ with him.

We're not looking for the meaning of QUALITY, but looking to give QUALITY meaning, if that makes any sense (maybe it just sounds like so much marketing fluff). Send private email
Tuesday, October 12, 2004
Quality means minimizing defects. offers:

    "ISO 9000 is primarily concerned with "quality management". In the everyday context, like "beauty", everyone may have his or her idea of what "quality" is. But, in the ISO 9000 context, the standardized definition of quality refers to all those features of a product (or service) which are required by the customer.

    ""Quality management" means what the organization does to ensure that its products or services satisfy the customer's quality requirements and comply with any regulations applicable to those products or services."
Christopher Wells Send private email
Tuesday, October 12, 2004
Thank Christopher!
CraigZello Send private email
Tuesday, October 12, 2004
I like to use "Conformance to requirements" and "Fitness for use". However, Quality has become one of those slogan words (like terrorism, democracy and freedom) that mean totally different things to different people. Most folks cannot define them, but "I know it when I see it!'

in 1964, Justice Potter Stewart (378 US 197) tried to explain "hard-core" pornography, or what is obscene, by saying, "I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced ... [b]ut I know it when I see it."

As a result, anytime that folks use the "but I know it when I see it" standard, I call it the pornography standard.
Tuesday, October 12, 2004
In Canada, at least, pornography is judged not by a single censor but by a board of several censors.

Similarly, "requirements" and "use" shouldn't mask the fact that there are several (sometimes conflicting) sets of requirements, and several sets of users (in that the vendor's saleperson, the vendor's programmer, the vendors's customer's end-user (agent), and the vendors's customer's customer can all be said to be "users" of the software).

I like "minimize defects" because it doesn't paint itself into a corner with any over-narrow definition of what a "defect" is.
Christopher Wells Send private email
Tuesday, October 12, 2004

This topic is archived. No further replies will be accepted.

Other recent topics Other recent topics
Powered by FogBugz