Iris Classon
Iris Classon - In Love with Code

Stupid Question 104: What is a 'Fagan Inspection'?

[To celebrate my first year of programming I will ask a ‘stupid’ questions daily on my blog for a year, to make sure I learn at least 365 new things during my second year as a developer]

Fagan inspection- formal code review

So I came across a really funny term while reading about code review, something called a Fagan Inspection. I don’t know why it sounds funny to me, but it just does :D

So, what is it?

It’s a formal code review (done in group), and is named after the guy who came up with it, mister Michael Fagan (IBM) during the early 70’s.

It’s believed (and proven in a few studies) to be very effective at detecting so-called defects (I’ll get back to this soon). At the same time I would like to point out that informal code review is also very effective, so it’s not given that a Fagan inspection is superior. It probably (because I am not an expert) depends on quite a few factors.

A defect is defined as:

A piece that is not correct, complete or actually missing. If something doesn’t meet the requirements, then there’s a defect.

The inspection itself is defined in six stages/steps:

  1. Planning

  2. Overview

  3. Preparation

  4. Meeting

  5. Rework (at this point one can return back to the planning stage again for a new cycle)

  6. Follow-up

Everybody participating in the process are given different roles such as:

  • Reader

  • Author

  • Reviewers

  • Moderators

  • Inspector

I reckon this sounds rather interesting, and I would like to try this. I’ll see if I can get together a group of devs and try this out. If you have any experience with this, and maybe even some handy tips please feel free to comment!


Leave a comment below, or by email.
Lars Wilhelmsen
12/16/2012 10:14:58 AM

This formal process is *very* expensive, so unless your creating safety(life)-critical or mission critical software, the chances that you'll find room in your budget for it is probably limited.

That said, peer reviewing of code is a good thing, and you can find techniques and inspirations in processes like this.

Iris Classon
12/16/2012 10:17:11 AM
Reply to: Lars Wilhelmsen
yeah, it does sound rather expensive! 
Nick Hales
10/7/2014 2:05:48 AM
Reply to: Iris Classon
Not as expensive as an accident 

Last modified on 2012-12-14

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