"How long is a piece of string?"

How often have you heard someone ask, "How long is a piece of string?"? But is it really a question? Often, it's used as more of a rhetorical statement than posed as a question to be answered. It's often used in exasperated response to some other question seemingly impossible to answer as in: "How long will you take to finish this piece of code?"

Of course, there are answers to the 'string' question.

In mathematics, you could apply laws of probability or plot the distribution of string length on a graph to produce a mean result of sorts. I bet fans of spread betting could also provide an answer. Then you've got the 'smart -Alec' answers, such as: "It's as long as you want it to be" or "It's as long as you cut it."

There is even a formula for the length of a piece of string:

•    2(0.5l) [or 2l/2] - where 'l' is length (doh!).

In other words, that can be written as "Twice as long as half it's length."

The question posed above, "How long will you take to finish this piece of code?" is a leading question, because it provides a segway to the question, "How long does it take to write a telephony application?" And the answer is that it depends upon the programming language and the application programming interface (API). Everyone knows that it takes a long time to code an application in C and that it's not only the time taken to develop the code base that causes concern. The size of the resultant code base is also an issue when it comes to de-bugging. Things just take a long time; no matter how hard you work - or how many strings you have to your bow.

In most people's experience, crafting a new application and being able to ship a new product in volume takes months. Sure, it depends on the 'app', but that's just the point; the application is about more than just the telephony. I'm talking about telephony-based applications, a good example of which is unified communications, where telephony is only one piece of tied-in string. Instead of programming for months on end in C, try using a high-level language, such as C# or Python (or Perl or Ruby or ...) and a corresponding API for the telephony engine. The end result will be that the time taken to craft a given application will be reduced from months to days; forget about weeks! That's an order of magnitude differential of 2 - months to weeks to days. The end result for the business - the product company benefit - is that a quicker time to market is achieved. The R&D Manager is delighted and the CEO is ecstatic, because he'll have seen a quicker return on his investment.

But you still want to know how long the piece of string is?

You can use your programming language to create a parameter, which is the string, the length of which you wish to know and an action, which counts the string length, and a return result, which provides your answer.

Syntax string.length (string)

string.length ("How long is a piece of string?")

Answer: the length of a piece of string is - '30'

"Ah Yes! Pieces of string, my friend, pieces of string."
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