Software development is a people-oriented activity requiring ever increasing numbers of professional software practitioners. Studies have shown that there is a substantial variance in both effectiveness and quality of output of these practitioners, which often compounds software development and maintenance issues. Furthermore, whilst the syntax of C++ can be learnt fairly quickly, understanding of the associated heuristics, inheritance and good design practice can take many years of experience to acquire. With this in mind, the Visual Class Tool has been developed to reverse engineer industrial C++ products in order to determine their structure and their degree of adherence to object-oriented and C++ best practice, the rules for which are codified within a central database. Programmers can either query the database to determine information about the structure of the code or they can use the tool to automatically analyse the code to produce metrics regarding its quality and/or adherence to best practice. This paper describes the Visual Class Tool and highlights some of the results obtained from its use on a large-scale commercial C++ product
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