Thursday, March 30, 2006

Time to review how we do things

Okay, this is a very rough draft, but I was having fun with it, so here goes:

Software testing is kind of like religion. There are many 'bibles' available that talk about how things should be done. (ie. Thou shalt not file a bug without a clear description.) It's even more like religion when you realize how many people who practice software testing for a living fail to live up to these 'codes.' Guilt associated with not being able to test 'properly' is prevalent, expected and demoralizing.

Much software is not released without a blessing from the tester, and the stuff that is often seems to be cursed. Not all of the religions of test are organized - some, like ad-hoc testing, are more like superstition than a formal religion. Others are heavily ritualized, requiring multiple layers of test documentation to be laboriously produced and maintained for every release of a product. You tell me which religion that sounds like. Multiple answers are accepted.

Then there is the New Age school of thought on software testing. Agile Testing seems to be in style at the moment, but so is Rapid Software Testing. Both attempt to deal with a similar problem - that is, how to be effective at testing the software with limited time and information. Agile attempts to solve this by working as closely as possible with the customer and by reducing the number of communication channels while RST attempts to increase the skill and effectiveness of the tester through a variety of means like risk analysis, exploratory testing and heuristics.

Test Automation is clearly Voodoo. It is often the least understood practice and requires much dedication in the arcane arts of scripting in order to show much effectiveness. It is however, a powerful tool in the right hands, but only when the moon is full or the browser is Internet Explorer. Go figure.

Defect Tracking systems are the lexicons of our SW testing religions, as they record the bugs throughout the ages, often useful for indicating 'dark times' in a project, when it seems the war against software failure is futile. However, under the skilled guidance of proper project management, a faithful tester can look forward to rapture, or the product release, when all their hard work will pay off - hopefully with rewards like a week off with pay, or at the very least, a brief end to mandatory overtime.

Like I said it was rough - and not nearly complete. Maybe I'll add more some time later.

No comments: