Credits : Formtek

Credits : Formtek

 

The software development cycle is changing. The traditional cycle of software development ranged from tasks like requirements gathering, analysis, implementation, QA, build-fix-build iterations and then, finally, application deployment. From start to finish, software development typically took many months or even years. Those individual tasks aren’t going away, but the development cycle is changing.  It is shortening

Agile development, for one, has had a tremendous influence on the development cycle. The morphing of long development cycles into frequent loops of development and redeployment followed by feedback from customers, end users and other stakeholders has enabled more frequent updates and more targeted releases.

The packaging of software as apps that can access collections of microservices and as containers also means that it’s now possible to introduce updates more easily and frequently by swapping out newer versions of self-contained services.

But, above all, the cloud-first development philosophy has become a part of almost all new software is affecting how software is created.

Some of the reasons why software development is done more efficiently in the cloud include:

1. Typically software developers are already using the cloud for some part of their current process.
2. Software developers want to work with new technologies, most of which are cloud centric.
3. New software development tools, like for DevOps and Continuous Delivery, are based on cloud services.

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Credits : Bleepingcomputer

Credits : Bleepingcomputer

 

A Dutch web developer has created a rootkit that hides inside a PHP module and can be used to take over web servers via a rarely used attack vector: Apache modules.

According to a classic definition of a rootkit, this is a piece of code that works on the lowest levels of the operating system, intercepting kernel operations and injecting malicious actions.

Many of today’s rootkits work near the OS kernel and require a high-level of proficiency on the attacker’s side to get it to run without crashing the victim’s computer.

It’s this need for advanced C and C++ coding skills that drove Luke Paris, a Dutch web developer, to attempt to create a rootkit that interacts with the PHP interpreter, instead of the OS kernel.

“Learning how to use the Zend Engine (the framework the entire PHP language is built with) is a lot easier than learning how to write kernel modules, simply because the code base itself is smaller, better documented and a lot less complex,” Paris explains. “Even without good documentation or tutorials, I managed to learn the basics of writing a PHP module within a day. If I (a novice C developer) can do it, the bad guys definitely can.”

PHP rootkits have many advantages

According to Paris, using PHP modules to hide rootkits is actually a pretty clever idea. The developer details a series of advantages.

⋙ Poorly written PHP rootkits will not crash the OS, only causing segmentation faults that interrupt current server requests, allowing infections to go unnoticed for a longer time.
⋙ Very few developers check the hashes of their PHP modules, meaning it’s quite easy to trick devs into downloading a tainted PHP module or replacing PHP modules on hacked servers.
⋙ PHP rootkits only have to hook into one system process, while kernel rootkits have to hook into every single kernel call, reducing a machine’s performance.
⋙ PHP rootkits are cross-platform rootkits because PHP is a cross-platform project and PHP modules can be cross-compiled for different platforms.

Proof of concept code available on GitHub

Paris has created a proof-of-concept PHP rootkit which he open-sourced on GitHub. The test rootkit he developed hooks into the PHP server’s “hash” and “sha1″ functions. The entire rootkit is 80 lines of code, and an attacker could easily hide it in legitimate modules.

To prevent attackers from easily weaponizing his code, the developer has defanged some of its parts, making compilation harder for people with no expertise in PHP modules.

Nevertheless, his test PHP rootkit shows a possible attack vector that server administrators need to take into consideration. To prevent such attacks, Paris has a series of recommendations for server owners.

“The most simple way of detecting whether or not any of your modules are malicious would be to keep a list of the module hashes after installing PHP,” Paris says. “Once you have a list of hashes, add a cron job that tries to hash all files in the extension directory and compares them to the current hash.”

To make everyone’s job easier, Paris even published a Python script that checks the SHA1 hashes of a user’s PHP modules.

Mitigate attack by scanning Apache module file hashes

“This is an interesting research project,” Scott Arciszewski, Chief Development Officer at Paragon Initiative Enterprise, told Bleeping Computer in an email today.

“I’ve seen .htaccess-based malware used in infected systems before, a PHP module or Apache module is certainly not out of the question,” Arciszewski added.

The expert, who is also the man behind Airship, a PHP CMS designed with improved security, says the only suggestion he’d make to Paris’ mitigation script is to use SHA256 hashes instead of SHA1.

His advice comes after Google researchers have broken the SHA1 hashing function earlier this year, creating two files with the same SHA1 hash. This would allow an attacker to add the PHP rootkit and then generate an Apache module with the same hash (at least in theory for now, has not been done before).

PHP rootkit gives attackers the persistence they always wanted

On hacked servers, most incident responders would not consider looking for malicious code inside PHP modules, as this is not a common place to hide malware, usually found in the source code of public websites, .htaccess files, or other files stored in the web server’s directories.

Paris’ PHP rootkit is the persistence tool that many attackers have always wanted, allowing them to remain at the lowest server level without getting detected.

It’s because of this increased level of persistence that Arciszewski recommends taking drastic options when dealing with servers suspected of being infected with malware, as there’s always a new attack vector around the corner, unknown to most server administrators.

“If you’re trying to clean up a compromised system, after the forensic investigation is complete, we always recommend building a new, clean environment and migrating the data over from a trusted backup for reasons like this,” the expert said.

Paris is not the first to play around with the idea of hiding malicious code in Apache modules. Back in 2015, London-based developer Christian Papathanasiou created a similar rootkit that he hid inside an Apache module.

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Credits : 9to5mac

Credits : 9to5mac

 

Last night, a set of benchmarks emerged showing just how powerful Apple’s iPad Pro lineup has become, even beating the top-tier MacBook Pro in some instances. Apple continues to market the iPad Pro as a PC replacement, and with the improvements in iOS 11, it seems the device is as close to that as ever before.

Could/has the iPad Pro replace your laptop or desktop?

Apple’s iPad lineup has always been powerful, but recent improvements like the A10X processor and M10 coprocessor have given the device an extra boost in terms of power.

The problem many people have had with iPad Pro, however, is its software. Since its inception, the iPad has essentially run the same operating system as the iPhone, just scaled up for the larger screen. With more recent versions of iOS, though, Apple has started bringing more advanced features to the iPad’s version of iOS.

For instance, iOS 9 brought new multitasking features with split-view and slide-over window management. Meanwhile, iOS 11 brings a host of improvements, including system-wide drag and drop, a Files application for more advanced document management, and more. There’s also the new ProMotion 120Hz display technology, which lends itself to improved Apple Pencil support.

With the new software features and hardware power, it seems as if the iPad Pro is inching closer than ever to being a PC replacement. Something that continues to standout as a missing feature, however, is support for pro-level applications like Final Cut and Logic Pro.

For me, the iPad Pro is a crucial aspect of my workflow, acting as a second-screen for notes, handouts, and PowerPoint slides during homework and lectures. As for acting as a full PC replacement, the iPad Pro is close thanks to split-screen multitasking, but what prevents me from using it alone is the lack of a solid keyboard. While some excellent options exist from companies like Brydge and Logitech, I’ve yet to find one that can match a dedicated laptop keyboard, including Apple’s own Smart Keyboard.

Currently, I use the 9.7-inch iPad Pro, but the new 10.5-inch model is certainly calling my name, much like it did for Ben. Given how heavily I use Apple Pencil for notes and annotations, the new ProMotion display technology seems like it would be a noticeable improvement for me.

We asked earlier this month if iOS 11 makes the iPad a more convincing laptop replacement, but now that we’ve seen just how powerful the new iPad Pro models are, especially when paired with the ProMotion display technology, things are a bit different.

What are your thoughts? Could/has the iPad Pro replace your PC? Let us know in the poll below and support your vote in the comments.

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Credits : Moneymanagement

Credits : Moneymanagement

Financial advisers aren’t particularly happy with their Client Relationship Management (CRM) providers such as XPLAN, providing an opportunity for incumbent providers to lift their game as well as an opportunity for new entrants, according to new white paper released by Netwealth.

The Netwealth white paper, released this month, notes that advice practices continued to support large and dominant CRM providers to deliver front office services and client engagement with most advisers (61 per cent) using XPLAN as their CRM to manage client information, followed by Excel (16 per cent) and other (14 per cent).

It also noted the degree to which emerging companies like Midwinter and AdviserLogic were making inroads into the CRM space, together having almost 20 per cent of the market.

However, it was the relatively high level of use of Excel which prompted Netwealth to point to issues of adviser satisfaction with the major CRM providers.

“When turning our attention to another core technology, financial planning, strategy and modelling software, XPLAN again has the largest user base (62 per cent), again followed by Excel (27 per cent). Similarly, both Midwinter and AdviserLogic are gaining market share here,” the white paper said.

“Given the tight integration between CRMs and financial planning software these results do not surprise. However, it is interesting that Excel rates so highly across both technologies, given the relatively unsophisticated nature of spreadsheets and that there is no tight integration between the CRM and financial planning and modelling tools.”

“Given the reliance by advice practices on both technologies, adviser satisfaction is somewhat of a concern,” the Netwealth white paper said. “Advisers on average give their CRM a satisfaction score of 3.1 out of 5, whilst they also provide their financial planning, strategy and modelling software an average rating of 3.1. This rating presents a significant opportunity for the incumbent providers to lift their game and flags the extent of the opportunity to the aforementioned new players.”

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Credits : Inman

Credits : Inman

 

The real estate industry has an unhealthy obsession with software tools. If there’s an obstacle, we immediately try to find a software platform to fix it. If it’s new and shiny, even better.

Reading through comments on Facebook communities or by checking online forums, you’ll notice the trend. People ask, “What’s the best tool for __?” With a quick search, you’ll see questions like:

  • What’s the best lead generation software?
  • What’s the best tool for holding my agents accountable?
  • What’s the best tool to improve lead conversion rates?

If you’re asking these questions, you’re starting in the wrong direction. Software solutions don’t solve problems. They optimize processes. They improve workflows.

After reading responses to these questions, you’re led to believe you can pay X dollars per month for a real estate platform that will magically solve whatever ails you, whether it be related to lead follow-up, lead generation or another business need.

Software needs strategy

Software upgrades what you’re already doing; it doesn’t change it. Software solutions improve processes, speed up actions and organize work-related tasks. Essentially, software is an assistant. It helps. It increases. It augments. But it’s not a problem-solver.

For example, if you’re driving a ton of leads to your business, and your agents need help responding to all of them, then you might invest in a CRM platform to assist with communication.

But if you’re not holding your agents accountable or assigning system rules to respond to leads, buying a system such as BoomTown wouldn’t improve your lead follow-up. It’s a tool within a strategy.

Another example: Data shows that if you respond to leads within five minutes of registration, you have a higher chance of converting them. So, you create a new workflow for agents to do this. To help them, you decide to invest in a system that helps with communication and follow-up. This is the right mindset. You can see the tech investment started with a strategy: contacting a lead within five minutes. Then, you find a software tool to help.

It’s easy to find software to jump over obstacles, but it doesn’t address root problems. It’s why people get confused and even switch software providers when they don’t see the results they want (even though it’s working for others).

The problem is simple. Software doesn’t drive results. Strategy does.

Good strategy is the heart of solving business challenges

People love to take the easy road, the simple path — which is why so many don’t start with business strategy. Good strategy takes months of hard work and planning.

Let’s examine the problem: If you wanted to become a champion real estate agent, you might join a team to train you in best practices, start reading, practice selling houses, and test new ideas until one succeeds. Sharpening your skills and developing strategy takes time and effort.

Without a smart strategy to drive your actions and software decisions, you could be pointing your business in the wrong direction. For example, software won’t generate the success you want if you’re trying to generate more leads when you should be focusing on responding well to the leads you already have.

If you try nonetheless, you’ll blame the software provider for the mess without identifying the real cause of the problem: not having a strategy that drives tech decisions. That’s why a strategy-first approach is needed.

Don’t sink your business with tools. Invest in strategy.

Think about some of the biggest names in real estate, the teams known for their success. There’s no doubt they employ software to help facilitate their goals, but you’ll notice they always talk about the strategy they implement first.

We’ve seen it over and over again. It’s not the teams with the best tech that get results, it’s the teams with the best tech AND the best strategies.

The next time you’re setting goals, take a look at what software tools you currently use. Will they help you reach those goals? If the answer’s no, begin researching what technology will.

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Credits : Inavateonthenet

Credits : Inavateonthenet

Datapath has unveiled the Quant application-sharing software for videowall users working in collaborative business environments, along with operation centres and control rooms. Quant allow users to view and share applications, as well as interact and make changes to original source files.

Quant, which can work in stand-alone mode or in conjunction with Datapath’s WallControl 10 software, is being released following the acquisition of its original developers, MOSAIQQ Inc, earlier this year.

Quant has been designed for users to collaborate, assign and delegate tasks instantly, in real-time, without the need for the cloud. Providing interactivity with shared applications, Quant permits application windows to be dragged and dropped between peers or on to a videowall.

Quant also offers simultaneous interactivity within the same application by multiple users, as well as instant synchronisation between peers in a group, including those running videowalls.

The software, which contains patented and patent-pending technology, provides complete security as the user has full control over each application, deciding what to share, with whom, and what permissions are given. Any changes are synchronised instantly, meaning updates made by multiple users are seen as they happen.

Quant is suitable for use in business collaboration, traffic management centres, manufacturing process control centres, utility service operations and security suites.

Quant will be available to purchase as a starter pack, containing the Quant configuration server plus five workstation licences. Additional licences will be available in bundles of five, 10, 25 and 100.

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Credits : Pcadvisor

Credits : Pcadvisor

 

These days most software is either free or cheap to buy. But some Windows programs still cost £100s. Either that or you have to pay a subscription fee (such as Microsoft Office 365 or Adobe CC). But there are free equivalents to just about every paid-for program, from Word and Excel to Photoshop, antivirus and games.

Here is the best free Windows software you can download right now, but do check out the best free games as well.

Which is the best free office suite?

You might not need a whole office suite, just a word processor. In case you didn’t know, Windows has one built-in: it’s called Word Pad. It lacks many of Word’s features but may have enough for your needs.

If you must have Word, then here are a few ways to use Word for free.

Now that Microsoft has made a concerted effort to switch everyone to a subscription model for Office 365, it’s even more tempting to opt for a free alternative. Our pick is LibreOffice,which is now far from being a mere off-shoot of OpenOffice. For most people LibreOffice offers everything you need, being just about as compatible with Microsoft Office as it’s possible to get.

Best free software

If you want a suite which copies Microsoft’s ribbon interface, look at Kingsoft Office Suite Free

Also, there are plenty of free PDF editors which allow you to convert a non-editable file into a format, such as .doc or .xls so you can change it.

What’s the best free alternative to Photoshop?

Photoshop is still the benchmark for photo editors, but there are two cheaper alternatives: Lightroom 6 (£109.99 from John Lewis) and Photoshop Elements 15 (£80.99 from Ebuyer). However, there are plenty of free photo editors, including some web apps.

Some people find that Paint.net offers everything they need for offline use, while others will be more than happy with PicMonkey.

You’ll find more recommendations in our dedicated roundup of the best free photo editors.

Also, don’t forget that in the Creators Update to Windows 10, the built-in Paint app has had a massive upgrade!

Plus, if you have a phone or tablet, there are some excellent photo editing apps. Most apply edits to the whole photo, but some, such as Photoshop Mix, even support layers. Others, like Snapseed, let you apply changes just to certain areas. And they’re both free.

Best free Windows software: antivirus

Opinions will always be divided on the best free antivirus software and, as with paid-for AV software, test results will change on an almost daily basis because makers update their databases and algorithms.

Best free software - Antivirus

There are quite a few to choose between, but don’t forget Microsoft’s Defender which is included with Windows 8 and 10.

For our current top picks, see our separate Best Free Antivirus software roundup.

Best free Windows software: email

Email is one of those personal things where, as with antivirus, any recommendation is always going to be controversial. Some people swear by Mozilla Thunderbird while others think that Incredimail is the best thing since, well, email was invented.

Most people don’t use either of those, instead preferring the web app of their chosen service such as Gmail, Outlook or Yahoo, along with the default email client (or the service’s own app) on their phone.

We’ve compared the best free email services in detail separately.

Best free Windows software: backup

Backing up irreplaceable files is a chore we could all do without, but while cloud storage services let you sync files without lifting a finger, none are capacious enough (even if you’re paying) to back up your entire PC or laptop.

The good news is that there’s free backup software on offer, you just need to provide the storage. One of our favourites is Easeus ToDo Backup Free 9You’ll find more alternatives in our guide to the best backup software.

But if you have under 50GB of files, it’s well worth checking out Mega. This cloud storage service will give you 50GB for free. Find out more in our roundup of the Best cloud storage services.

Best free Windows software: video editing

Windows Movie Maker is now defunct, and most people couldn’t get on with its limited tools. Fortunately there’s a number of free alternatives, including LightWorks which you can read all about in our roundup of the best free video editors.

Again, as with photo editors, don’t overlook the video editing apps available on your phone and tablet. For iOS users, iMovie is a convenient way to edit video you’ve taken on an iPhone (or iPad) and if you’re running iOS 10 or later, you can quickly edit within the Photos app using the Memories section.

Best free Windows software: VPN

VPN services aren’t just for browsing the web anonymously. They also let you access or unblock content that’s otherwise limited to users located in particular countries. All free VPNs have their drawbacks, one of which could be unwanted advertising. Another is restricted data or download speeds.

But for some people, a free VPN is all they need and CyberGhost‘s free service is one worth checking out. Free VPNs have their limitations, and many agree that you need to pay for a service for it to be

Here are the best free VPN services we’ve tested out, and also the best paid-for VPN services.

You’re bound to know other great free software, so if you feel you have a better suggestion, or want to suggest software in other categories, let us know in the comments below.

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Credits : Linux

Credits : Linux

 

There are many benefits of agile software development, including the ability to accelerate growth, foster developer autonomy, and respond to changing customer needs faster, all while creating a company culture that embraces innovation. But, while we’re still bickering over what is precisely agile and what precisely isn’t, some feel left behind. From middle management to whole project management offices, there are many struggling to find their place in an agile transformation.

But there is an argument for the role the project management office (PMO) can play in a company gone agile, according to scrum master Dean Latchana, who gave a talk on this subject to a skeptical audience recently at the AgiNext Conference in London.

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Credits : Whattheythink

Credits : Whattheythink

 

Making good software is like building a nice home, it takes multiple resources who are coordinated to deliver on your needs. The more a printer understands the software process, the better they will be at managing it for internal projects or influencing the software roadmap of their vendors.

If you want to hear print owners complain, ask them about software. I don’t think this is unique to the print industry. Most businesses are frustrated with their business software. I could write an article about what people complain about most (that would be redundant and boring). I could write an article about what vendors could do better (I think we’ve covered that in other articles). What I want to write about is the actual process required to build good software; because I believe if printers understood the software development process better, they could influence it more effectively. The result would be exactly what printers are looking for – software that returns more ROI to their businesses.

One of the best analogies I’ve heard to describe the software development process is comparing it to building a home. We all understand that building a nice home first and foremost takes a translator who listens to what you want and then designs what is to be built (the architect). The architect is often supported by a structural engineer to make sure what was designed can be safely built (does not fall down). Once the plan is agreed upon, including full visuals and now with modern software 3D walk throughs, the building can begin. The builders include the primary labor (contractor) and specialized labor (electrician, plumber, etc.).

The final step for building a nice home is the inspectors who make sure everything is up to the current building codes. These people come and check the work of others against established criteria. If your home fails to meet the criteria, remedies are suggested and labor is deployed to bring the home up to code.

Building good software is like building a nice home.

The translation between what you want and what will be built in software should be done primarily by a product manager and secondarily by the software architect. The product manager is listening to the business challenges and then translating them into the features and functionality of the software. The software architect then layers their knowledge of how the software will be structured (like the structural engineer on a home). Your software architect is making sure the software will work and designing the interactions between user experience, database, and external systems.

The specialized labor includes the user experience (UX) / user interface (UI) designer. The user experience is how the users of the software interact with it. This is a specialized skill. The biggest mistake I see with software projects is when the software developers make UI and UX decisions. This would be like your contractor saying he could handle all the electrical and plumbing in your house, no need to hire specialists. The UI/UX of software is the most important part. The reason we have so much software that is frustrating to use is that software developers made the UI/UX decisions. This is also why most software requires a decoder ring to figure out how to use it. A decoder ring is a translator between what it says on the screen and what it does. How many times have you heard someone say, oh that feature that is called “X” really does “Y”! Why the heck didn’t you just name it so we don’t have to have a manual, documentation, or massive amounts of training?

The labor for software development is the coders. The software developers take the instructions from the product manager and turn them into working software. They are like the contractors building your house. They should NOT have to be delayed by having to make a lot of decisions – the decisions should have been front-loaded in your plans. Contractors are not expected to decide the height of the ceilings in your basement. Software developers should not be deciding what to name a button or whether functionality is displayed in a pop-up modal window or via an error message embedded on the screen. The UI/UX designer should decide all of this because they are thinking about the human user not the human who codes (who is generally not your target market).

How should this new knowledge impact you when you take on software development projects or you’re giving feedback to vendors about their software products?

Recommendations for Printers

  1. Describe the challenge/problem instead of suggesting a solution

When your house has a water leak, you call the plumber and say, “water is leaking above our stove which is right under the upstairs shower – can you come check it out?” You do not say; I think you should re-route the main water line from downstairs to upstairs or another other proposed solution. You describe the problem in the form of the symptoms you are witnessing. Your objective is obvious – we would like the walls and ceilings of our home to be dry.

When software doesn’t work the way you want it to, we don’t describe the symptom, we race off to recommended solutions. I’ve heard printers say; “could you please create a download button on this screen that downloads all the data?” This is a proposed solution. I don’t know what problem you’re trying to solve. This is a real example so I’ll tell you what we did. We did NOT code a download button on the screen; because when I asked what are you going to do with that data, the printer said. “I am going to combine it with images of all the items on the screen, create a spreadsheet and send it to my customer for review.” So the problem they wanted to solve was the ability to view a set of data in multiple ways – one as a list, one as a grid with images. We implemented multiple views on the screen as the solution to this challenge. With one click the customer could see a list, with another click the customer could see a grid view with thumbnails of all the images associated with the items. If we hadn’t asked what problem they were trying to solve, they would have wasted their money and our time building a far less effective solution.

  1. Understand that writing code is about one-third of the software process

When software is needed; so many printers think all they need is a software developer. Then they wonder why the developer built something that doesn’t quite solve their problem, is difficult to use, and looks awful. You are asking the coder to play all the roles. This can be done. For very small projects it doesn’t make sense to spend the money to have all these different skill sets. Look for a developer that is well rounded and can do all the skills well. For anything serious, larger scale you must get access to the specialized labor (especially the UI/UX role). You can translate your needs into requirements and have someone design the pages before you even look for a developer. When you have everything scoped out its so much easier for a developer to estimate the project. You are not a UI/UX expert, everyone seems to think they are good at this. You probably aren’t.

  1. Software takes time to do well, more time than you think, rushing it creates a mess

Everyone is under the gun. Your customers are demanding from you and often you can just ask your team to work overtime or add another shift. Software is less easy to scale, especially larger projects. There are books written about the failed attempts to scale software projects by throwing more people in the mix to speed it up “The Mythical Man-Month”. A software project requires context. When you add more people to a software project you slow it down temporarily because the people with context have to stop working and provide context to the new people.  This makes software frustrating, it never seems to deliver near the pace of our expectations. This isn’t software’s fault. The expectations are set by sales representatives (who earn commissions when you buy their software), quarterly earnings (if you’re a public company), and support teams who are desperate to please frustrated customers. Software expectations are the classic overpromise and underdeliver. When you’re talking about next year’s release on the trade show floor this year, when it really comes out twelve months from now –  it will already be a disappointment.

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Credits : Linux

Credits : Linux

 

Joining any new company—with an established culture and programming practices—can be a daunting experience. When I joined the Ansible team, I decided to write up the software engineering practices and principles I’ve learned over the years and to which I strive to work. This is a non-definitive, non-exhaustive list of principles that should be applied with wisdom and flexibility.

My passion is for testing, as I believe that good testing practices can both ensure a minimum quality standard (sadly lacking in many software products), and can guide and shape development itself. Many of these principles relate to testing practices and ideals. Some of these principles are Python-specific, but most are not. (For Python developers, PEP 8 should be your first stop for programming style and guidelines.)

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