Betfair to speed debugging

Online gambling firm Betfair is investing in automated debugging software to speed up in-house system development and control the quality of outsourced code.

Online gambling firm Betfair is investing in automated debugging software to speed up in-house system development and control the quality of outsourced code.

The company, which plans to use Fortify's Source Code Analysis (SCA) to check code against a list of known software errors, expects the project to pay for itself within three years.

"We expect to get two main benefits: clean code faster than before, and better morale among coders," said Matt Young, Betfair's engineering partner development director.

"Everyone knows code checking is a necessary evil, but no one likes doing it. If we can eliminate a lot of the drudgery by using an automated tool, the code checkers can investigate the more interesting errors. That is a better use of their time."

SCA flags errors and offers an explanation of why it considers there to be a bug. Users can add new bugs to the list, Young said.

Betfair has 100 in-house programmers who look after about 1,000,000 lines of code, plus 10 to 20 outsourced coders on call during busy periods. The teams constantly seek to improve system uptime and cut the time it takes to process a bet.

Young said that Betfair does not use standard measures of performance, such as so many lines of bug-free code per programmer per day.

"The things that matter [to coders] are the things that matter to the business. Everyone who works here knows that we measure success by uptime and how fast we can process a bet. Because people can bet while games are in progress, if we are down for a second, we lose money," he said.

Betfair's main systems are based on Oracle's PL/SQL language, but it also has systems written in Java, SQL Server, C++ and .net. "We needed a tool that would cover all these languages," said Young.

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