Let’s face it: Testing isn’t always fun. There’s missed deadlines, missed bugs, stubborn developers, office politics and – well- you get the idea. Despite these pains, however, most people in testing truly love the work they do. But what do they like most about testing? To find out (and to brighten your day) I decided to make that the topic of this quarter’s Testing Roundtable discussion. Check out some great answers below from Jerry Weinberg, Scott Barber, Matt Heusser, Michael Cooper, Pradeep Soundararajan, Steve Vance and Peter Shih. Enjoy!
Gerald Weinberg, Author and Consultant
I like my software to do what I bought it for, and not do other things. Without testing, that won’t happen.
If you’re asking what I like most about *doing*, testing, well I like the software I help produce to be good at doing what people buy it for, but I think that’s not the answer you’re looking for. (You should be, though, because that feeling of pride in one’s work is essential to a successful profession.)
As for the actual work of testing, I like the intellectual challenge most. While testing, I feel like, say, Sherlock Holmes—-and nobody has to be murdered (usually).
Scott Barber, CTO at PerfTestPlus
I like the diversity of it. Take a recent week for example. I was helping one client devise a performance testing strategy for a database that is growing at the rate of 1TB per month that supports an application that enables M.D.s, Medical Test Labs, and Pharmacies to share relevant patient information, prescriptions, lab results, etc. essentially in real-time. I was working with a small team to figure out how to performance test a web-based voting application for a national (not North American) election that reasonably expects to need to securely & reliably process over 1 million votes per hour. I paired with a complete stranger to test a desktop application using screen and voice capture tools to document our testing and report defects. And I was testing a “teach programming to kids” application with my son.
But what I *really* like is the virtual impossibility of it all. While complete testing is not practically possible, balancing that against time, budget, technology, market, and human factors with a host of unknowns that feels bigger than the knowns, is the most fascinatingly challenging puzzle I’ve ever actively tried to solve. It’s a puzzle that always keeps me on my toes, always keeps me actively studying new things; from new technologies, to human psychology, to organizational management, to whatever industry my current client is in. For a person who loves to learn, loves to make a difference, is motivated by seemingly impossible challenges, gets bored easily, yet doesn’t want to be looking for a new career every 3 months, I simply can’t think of a field that is a better fit.
Matt Heusser, Writer and Consultant
Two decades ago I was a military cadet in the Civil Air Patrol, and I vividly remember a poem over our commanders desk:
“We the willing, led by the unknowing, have been doing the impossible, for the ungrateful. We have been doing so much for so long for so little that we are now qualified to do anything for nothing.”
While the spirit of that poem was a little passive-aggressive, I have to say, I was inspired by the content, this idea of doing the impossible under tough constraints.
In some ways, I see this in software testing. From an infinite set of possible tests, we need to derive the most powerful ones. We need to figure out what to test right now; what to do quickly, what to automate. We need to figure out what the results of those tests tell us, and to give answers that stand up to scrutiny.
I call this the “Great Game of Testing,” and I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to say that I am in software testing “For Love Of The Game.”