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 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).
- A gentleman naturalist.
- A buccaneer.
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?