This guide was produced as part of the SSfM project “Testing spreadsheets and other packages used in metrology”. The aim of this project is to contribute to the development of an infrastructure, comprising supporting information and guidelines, to ensure that the use of software, particularly spreadsheets, within metrology is made as effective as possible. This is to be achieved in two ways: firstly, by investigating the numerical accuracy of the intrinsic and in-built functions provided by spreadsheets; and secondly, by giving best practice on the development of spreadsheets, including how to enable users to test their spreadsheet implementations against a design. This guide addresses the latter issue; the issue of testing numerical accuracy is addressed in earlier reports from the SSfM programme [1-3] (also see [4-6] for further work relating to numerical testing of spreadsheets). It is hoped that by addressing the two aspects, numerical accuracy and software design for testability, the quality of the measurement results delivered by spreadsheets used in the day-to-day operations of measurement and calibration laboratories can be assured.
To enable a spreadsheet application to be tested, it must have been developed properly; so that testing and (where appropriate) validation can become part of the development process. This leads to the main slogan of this guide:
“creating a spreadsheet is software development and
should follow sound software engineering principles.”
The needs of testing must be addressed during the design and development of a spreadsheet application and we aim to give guidance on the design and development of spreadsheet applications with testing in mind – so the second slogan is “design for testability”. The complexity of the underlying spreadsheet package precludes very rigorous validation of spreadsheet applications and so spreadsheets should not be used for high integrity applications.
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