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What is software maintenance

Module by: Miguel-Angel Sicilia. E-mail the author

Summary: Defines software maintenance as a category of Software Engineering activities.

Classical definitions of software maintenance

Software maintenance is defined in the IEEE Standard for Software Maintenance (IEEE 1219) as "the modification of a software product after delivery to correct faults, to improve performance or other attributes, or to adapt the product to a modified environment".

IEEE 1219 considers that maintenance are activities after delivery. This is a point that requires two considerations:

  • Some other definitions consider that activities prior to delivery that are oriented to ease maintenance should also be categorized as software maintenance.
  • "Delivery" is to some extent a matter of convention in some kinds of projects. While for typical software development contracts delivery is clearly specified as a milestone in the development plan, in projects as open source initiatives this is not clear-cut.

A broader definition

Software maintenance activities include any software engineering activity oriented to change an existing software product or to improve or plan for future changes.

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