The President's Column
Do you have a client that requires a secure, neutral
location to examine code? We've got it, and you can have it! SAFE
Corporation has been expanding, and our previous facility (my house)
was getting crowded. We now have a new office in Cupertino, home
of Apple and Hewlett-Packard in central Silicon Valley. Best of
all, you can sublease space from us on a monthly basis to do your
analysis and keep your software, or your client's software, and
your analysis results in a secure, private vault. You'll have access
24/7 (we'll probably be there working too) in a closed-door private
office. Here's the new address:
20863 Stevens Creek Lane
Cupertino, CA 95014
Stop by and I'll treat you to a cup of coffee at Peet's
Coffee, just walking distance away.
In this issue's Scanning IP section
I ask the question, "How much is your software worth?"
I wish I had an answer for that, but I can at least give you some
ideas about how much more it's worth than the last version you released.
I discuss the "changing lines of code" (CLOC) method of
measuring changes in software and how it can be used to help value
the IP of various versions of computer programs.
In the Scanning Tools section I discuss
how to use our CodeDiff program to measure CLOC. Should we include
a CLOC calculator in a future release of CodeSuite? Is this something
you can use? I'd like to hear from you.
President, SAFE Corporation
How Much is Your Software Worth?
My consulting company Zeidman
Consulting worked on a large tax case last year. For reasons
involving the labyrinthine regulations of the IRS, it was important
to understand how much of the IP of a software program had changed
from the time it was first developed ten years ago, through subsequent
revisions, until the current version. In the current version, IP
remaining from the first version was taxed at one rate while IP
added subsequently was taxed at a different rate (this is a simplification
based on my limited understanding of tax law). There was a lot
of money at stake.
Previous methods of measuring code involve counting lines of code.
However, that's a very poor estimate. Consider an example where
an entire function consisting of 10,000 lines of code is replaced
with a more efficient function requiring only 9,000 lines of code.
Simply counting lines would tell you that there was a net reduction
of 1,000 lines of code, which could incorrectly be interpreted as
a reduction in IP. We realized that we could use CodeDiff and FileCount
to compare lines of code to find the number of lines of code that
continue from one version to another, the number of lines of code
that are changed, and the number of lines of code that are added.
Plugging these values into a well-defined spreadsheet allow you
to graph this measure of changing lines of code ("CLOC")
over time. The actual valuation of the initial version of the software
is a complex process better left to financial analysts, but the
CLOC method provides a great way to measure the changes in value.
You can read more about CLOC in the article by Nik Baer and me
in Intellectual Property Today entitled Measuring
Changes in Software IP including a measurement of the Mozilla
Firefox open source project.
Advanced Tools to Detect Software Plagiarism and IP Theft
A sophisticated set of tools for analyzing software source code
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Check binary object code for plagiarism.
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SAFE offers training at our facility or yours. Contact
us to make arrangements:
in software IP
CodeSuite now supports the LISP programming language. Have you
heard of LISP? Probably not. It's a language with a small but passionate
group of supporters. Considered one of the first programming languages
specifically created for developing artificial intelligence (AI)
programs, it was used mostly at universities and rarely in industry.
I wrote LISP programs as a grad student at the Stanford Artificial
Intelligence Lab (SAIL) in the early 80s and let me tell you, I'm
glad it's gone (or almost gone). It's just difficult to use and
not intuitive at all. But a customer needed to examine a LISP program
so we created a definition file for LISP. You can download all of
our language definition files at www.SAFE-corp.com/programs
- download the zip file, unzip it, and follow the directions in
the ReadMe.txt file. If you need to analyze a programming language
we don't currently support, we can usually create a definition file
in just a few hours.