SQuAP-Ont: an Ontology of Software Quality Relational Factors from Financial Systems

Tracking #: 2256-3469

Paolo Ciancarini
Andrea Giovanni Nuzzolese
Valentina Presutti
Daniel Russo1

Responsible editor: 
Pascal Hitzler

Submission type: 
Ontology Description
Quality, architecture, and process are considered the keystones of software engineering. ISO defines them in three separate standards. However, their interaction has been scarcely studied, so far. The SQuAP model (Software Quality, Architecture, Process) describes twenty-eight main factors that impact on software quality in banking systems, and each factor is described as a relation among some characteristics from the three ISO standards. Hence, SQuAP makes such relations emerge rigorously, although informally. In this paper, we present SQuAP-Ont, an OWL ontology designed by following a well established methodology based on the re-use of Ontology Design Patterns (i.e. ODPs). SQuAP-Ont formalises the relations emerging from SQuAP in order to represent and reason via Linked Data about software engineering in a three-dimensional model consisting of quality, architecture, and process ISO characteristics.
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Solicited Reviews:
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Review #1
By Charles Vardeman II submitted on 30/Jul/2019
Review Comment:

This manuscript was submitted as 'Ontology Description' and should be reviewed along the following dimensions: (1) Quality and relevance of the described ontology (convincing evidence must be provided). (2) Illustration, clarity and readability of the describing paper, which shall convey to the reader the key aspects of the described ontology.

The suggested minor revisions and correction of typographical errors have been completed as well as the addition of material based on the previous review comments. These additions have enhanced the applicability of the ontology to different software development methodologies as well as applicability to the ontology development process. Evidence for criteria (1) was presented in the previous review. Additions to the previous paper have improved criteria (2) particularly illustration and clarity.

Review #2
By Karl Hammar submitted on 02/Aug/2019
Review Comment:

This updated version of the paper addresses and resolves most, but not all, of the concerns I brought up when I reviewed the earlier version:

* The authors provide another example of usage of this model, which is in a non-banking context. While I still have some doubts as to the generalizability of the whole model (again, there are certain quality factors which are explicitly relevant only on the Italian market, e.g., "ItalianApplicationsVsQualityAndMaintainability"), I'll concede that large parts of the model, particularly pertaining to the integration of the ISO standards, are usable in contexts outside of the Italian banking sector.

* The reference to the paper defining the SQuAP model has been updated; this new referenced paper describes all 28 quality factors from that model.

* That new reference also describes the previously missing linkage between the SQuAP quality factors and the various ISO quality characteristics/sub-characteristics (while I find that linkage to be rather weak in terms of validation -- an internal Delphi process involving only the authors themselves -- that content lies in another paper which is not the subject of this review).

* The authors discuss the use and effects of punning in the ontology, as well as the dual use of the :specializes and subClassOf properties (the former now having been made transitive).

* Inconsistencies in the model and figures have been addressed.

Two issues from my previous review are, I think, insufficiently addressed in the revised edition of the paper. The first one is arguably a matter of preference/style and the sort of content that I ask for is not required per the SWJ reviewer guidelines for ontology description papers -- so while I strongly recommend that the authors consider it, it is not a blocker for publication. The latter is a technical formality that should be relatively simple for the authors to address.

1) I suggested in my previous review that the authors describe the SQuAP-ONT design process and methodologies; the authors have indeed added substantial content describing the XD methodology and how it might work in a generic case. But it is to me unclear whether this (what seems like a very generic description) is actually what was carried out in the development of SQuAP-ONT specifically. A little more details of this project would paint a more detailed picture of the work: why was the method selected (aside from the generic references that patterns are good for a variety of purposes), how was pattern selection carried out, which patterns were considered/selected/rejected, what was the development team like (number of people, skills, task allocation, etc), were there any specific challenges that were met and overcome, etc. If the authors might show not only the end result, but also a little bit of the process details/context, I think it would add a lot to the paper.

2) HTML representation of the SQuAP-Ont ontology via content negotiation, as promised on page 9, still does not work (per 2019-08-02).