uTest Blog Abuzz With Hive Award Win @ SXSW

Last week, we found out that our humble little Software Testing Blog won the Hive Award at SXSW as the top business software blog (here’s the slideshow and the PDF report). We’re honored to make this prestigious list, along with brands we love such as HowStuffWorks, Nokia, Nike, HBO and About.com.

Part of the reason this blog has been so successful in the past year is how infrequently we talk about ourselves (ugh, boring). Well, I’m allowing myself to break that rule briefly so I can thank the people who have made our blog what it is today.

  • Our in-house team (Stanton, Mike, Jenny and Peter) for their tireless efforts and talented writing about everything from mobile apps to social media to software testing to crowdsourcing trends.
  • Our guest bloggers from the uTest community who have written passionately about everything from mobile testing to QA in agile environments to the evolving roles of testers.
  • Our Testing The Limits guests (including James Whittaker, Matt Heusser, James Bach, Michael Bolton and Jon Bach) who have not only tolerated our wide range of questions — from the insightful to the inane — but joined in with good humor, wit, eloquence and intellect.

I’ll end this little Oscar speech before the orchestra starts playing me off stage. Suffice it to say, we love writing for you; we’ll keep scouring every corner of the world (virtual and physical) for fresh topics and angles about anything related to software; and we’ll keep reminding ourselves why we’ve had this success: we write stuff that you seem to enjoy reading. We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.

Testing the Limits With Jon Bach – Part II

In part II of our interview with Jon Bach, we get his thoughts on testing metrics; common tester stereotypes; the merit of certifications; the testing blogosphere; inventing Twitter in 1986, as well some rapid fire Q&A. We think you’ll like it. By the way, did you miss part I of the interview?

uTest: You have some great tips on how to handle bloated testing numbers and statistics: “Any number, any statistic is like software. It can be tested.” What other tips can you give testers when it comes to having the courage, diplomacy and patience to slow things down and get to the truth?

JB:  For me, the magic words that often make me feel more courageous, diplomatic and patient are: “I have been fooled before.”

No one will argue with that because it’s true.  Scammers often confess that the hardest person to fool is somebody who says “I can be fooled.”  So many times I’ve been so sure I was right just to meet someone who convinced me differently, sometimes in a matter of seconds.  So now say “I could be wrong”, and use other safety language like: “it could be”, “it seems like”, “it looks as if” and “maybe…”  That way, I don’t feel stupid when I’m shown refuting evidence to my claim.  If you practice that, chances are good that you will appear to be a kung fu master who, after having floored your 50th assailant with your skills, slowly backs out of the room on guard for the 51st.

Remember that testing is a craft.  It involves thinking about how things might be different.  Remembering to say “I have been fooled before” is consistent with that spirit.

uTest:  Testing certs: worthwhile or window dressing?

JB:  The only thing worthwhile about them is the debate they provoke.  Window dressing is an apt metaphor because it’s only meant to enhance a window’s *appearance*.  When there’s a flood or a storm or some other strong test of the window, the dressing often gets destroyed. Outside of the flood, people may prefer the look of the dressing; I just want to be a stronger window.  Passing multiple choice tests about so-called “best practices” don’t do that for me.

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Testing the Limits with James Bach (part 1)

In the December episode of our Testing the Limits series, we rapid fire some questions back and forth with James Bach (@jamesmarcusbach).  James is one of the most thought-provoking, outspoken, earnest thought leaders in the testing space.  Check out his blog if you don’t believe us.

Today we’ll be discussing James’ disdain for tester certifications, faking test projects, werewolf hunting in parallel universes and what he would do if he were king (or an angel) for a year. Don’t worry, it’ll all make sense soon. Update: Here’s Part 2 of the interview.

uTest: You’ve been an outspoken critic of traditional certs and classroom education. If you were king for a year, how would you fix testing certifications?  And how would you change a college’s curriculum?

JB: Kings are not powerful enough. I want to be an angel for a year.

You see, certification is promoted by frightened people who feel they need elaborate content-free ceremonies in order to feel competent. But in their hearts they know they are faking it. The fear of being exposed as imposters keeps them from doing much about it. So, in that year I would travel at relativistic speed around the industry. I would visit, by night, the hearts of testers everywhere, giving them inspiration to become excellent at their craft. The ones already certified would wake up and take a long cleansing shower, then write blog posts– by the thousands!– repudiating ISEB, ISTQB, CSQE, and all such blight. They would declare themselves reborn as students of the craft. (The ones not certified will just feel strangely cheerful, at least for testers.)

A spirit of exploration, experimentation, and debate would spread around the industry. It will seem to come from everywhere at once.

Weekend Testers would become Weekday Testers. TMap textbooks would be beaten into plowshares… and then recycled. Test plan templates and TPS reports would blow forgotten through streets lined with cheering crowds playing tester games designed to hone practical reasoning skill. By the thousands! FOR THE WIN!!

As far as university goes, I’ve already been doing my part. I helped found and run the Workshops on Training Software Testers, which brings university professors together to examine how to teach testing better.

I served on an advisory board for the Rochester Institute of Technology when they were trying to set up their degree program in software engineering, too.

But if I were king (not the modern Swedish kind but the old-school Caesar kind) I would make school a lot harder (much easier to expel a bad student) and instead of paying tuition, students would be paid.

Also, there would be no classes, as such, just constant projects and training. In other words, it would be almost exactly like Silicon Valley in the eighties, except with better corporate libraries.

uTest: If a parallel universe where you weren’t involved in testing or software at all – what would you be?

JB: If the parallel universe is before the industrial revolution, then any TWO of the following:

  • A freelance sentry.
  • A small-time warlord.
  • An itinerant geometer.
  • Werewolf.
  • Werewolf hunter.
  • A member of the 1735 French Geodetic expedition, but not the one who got killed by the mob at the bullfight (he had it coming).
  • Zorro.
  • A gentleman naturalist.
  • A buccaneer.
  • Gandalf.

uTest: A full day at an ISTQB seminar, or a full day in a college-level computing class – you’re forced to choose one. What’s it gonna be?

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STP Rolls Out The Red Carpet At STPCon Reception In Cambridge

Earlier this week, several members of the uTest team took in the opening reception of STPCon LogoSoftware Test & Performance’s STPCon event.  We overheard some great conversations, and even jumped into the fray a few times ourselves.  It was a lively crowd and a great venue (the Hyatt Regency) right along the Charles River.  The event continues today, but even if you’re not attending you can still follow along, check out the STPCon Twitter stream here.

This event gave us a chance to reconnect with our friends from STP Collaborative, as well as sit in on sessions from top-shelf testing thinkers like James Bach, Jon Bach, Michael Bolton and Matt Heusser.  We also got to connect with about a half dozen local uTesters who took us up on our invitation to attend the reception.

We had a few people from uTest in attendance on Thursday and they gave the presenters high marks overall.  The two that I heard the most comments on, however, were from James Bach and Michael Bolton.  Bach tackled the provocative subject of “How to Fake a Test Project.”  Bolton took on the topic of “Rapid Software Testing.”  We’ll see if we can get either of their presentations and share them here. Also of great interest was Friday morning’s SpeedGeeking session with Matt Heusser, which put the speakers on the spot, giving them only five minutes to get right to their point. Talk about fighting your natural instincts!

For anyone who attended, chime in and share your most or least favorite moments from STPCon?  What surprised you, frightened you, entertained you or just generally pissed you off? Sound off in the comments or drop us a line.

Meanwhile, the uTest paparazzi was present and ready to capture some of the scenes from the evening.

Matt Heusser and James Bach take a timeout from their testing debate for a quick photo

Matt Heusser and James Bach take a timeout from their testing debate for a quick photo

Matt Johnston and James Back deep in discussion about the art & science of testing (and the difference between the two)

Matt Johnston and James Bach deep in discussion about the art & science of testing (and the difference between the two)

Jennifer Moebius and STP chief, Andy Muns take a break from the exhibits to pose for a pic

Jennifer Moebius and STP chief, Andy Muns take a break from the exhibits to pose for a pic

Thanks to everyone for the great photos.