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.”
Michael Cooper, Senior Director of QA at T-Mobile
When I was testing on a daily basis, I treated testing like a game. I was so happy whenever I found defects and design gaps that would have had real impacts on the end customer. I enjoyed the challenge of quickly learning new applications, systems and functionality; and I loved being the “go to” subject matter expert (SME) whose opinion was valued during ‘go/no-go’ decision-making. I had to use my imagination and astuteness to try to put myself into the shoes of the customer or end user. I felt very proud to know both the big picture and the technical details of the application.
When I moved into test automation, I loved doing things more efficiently than other testers and being able to locate defects that could not be found manually. When I got into performance testing, I loved the concept of understanding systems well enough to uncover and help tune real performance and load issues. I would stay up late at night reading knowledgebase articles about the systems being tested; and learning new scripting and tuning skills.
When I became a Test Manager, I loved mentoring other testers that shared my love for testing; I really enjoyed finding process improvements in testing and Quality Assurance. Then, as a Senior Manager and Director, I love sharing a strong vision for QA and Testing. I am truly passionate about driving quality and inspiring other testers to reach their full potential.
My love for testing continues to evolve each and every day. These days I lead a team of over four hundred testers, Quality Assurance professionals, and Infrastructure Specialists and I love the challenges and opportunities that my work brings every day!
Software testing is a piece of honey in this world and I think of testers as bees. While there are bees that spend a lot of time collecting honey and want to spread the taste of honey to larger groups, there are also bees that seem to want to add impurities to the honey. There is no authority and there shouldn’t be. However, the bad bees want to act like being in authority and end up preventing the new born bees from tasting pure honey. Also, there are fights between the groups of good and bad bees and sometimes a lot of buzz.
The good bees don’t understand that spending more time fighting with bad bees means time away from collecting more honey. There is another way to look at the same thing. Fighting the bad bees helps the good bees save new born bees from being influenced by the bad bees. Every good bee has a role to play today. Some guard the territory, some collect honey, some carry honey to far off places, some spread the taste, some rejuvenate the newborn bees with pure honey and some openly kill the bad bees.
Who am I? I am just one among the bees. I have tasted the pure honey and I think it is the sweetest thing I have tasted. I see some bees wanting to add impurity into it and I have donned several roles in my life so far. Right now, I am playing the businessman-cum-test-consultant-bee role, helping good bee customers get the honey they want.
Steve Vance, Author and Sr. Software Engineer at uTest
There are so many ways I like testing, but first and foremost I’m a big fan of applying Lean principles to product development. In that context, I see testing as the key to building quality in rather than training your software to do the right thing after the fact. If you can practice test-driven development (TDD), fantastic. Acceptance test-driven development (ATDD) is even better. If you’re just doing test-early, that’s still pretty good. And while it’s great to have the tests that verify the functionality and continue to serve as regression tests, the primary benefit is how it helps you focus on doing the right things effectively with a good and testable design. Ultimately, this all comes together to help us sustainably create high-quality software from inception, reducing our costs and increasing our productivity with long-term returns.
In a complete shift of approach to the question, I love the puzzle represented by testing. Figuring out how to bring software under test can be the ultimate legal hacking project. A lot of software is not designed with testability in mind. It’s not just at the system and integration test level that you find this, either. A lot of low-level classes and other “units” are equally difficult to test. Figuring out how to tame them with a minimum of change beats sudoku for a challenge in my book.
Peter Shih, Director of Community Management at uTest
“Testing is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” The fact that software testing is so multi-faceted is what I love most about this field. Does the app function as designed? Is it intuitive to use and enjoyable to use for your core audience? Does it provide a level of security and privacy that builds confidence in your end users? How does it perform when there’s peak activity or traffic?
Along the same lines, software testers themselves are also diverse in their training and experience, which has trained me to reserve judgment until after I’ve worked with a tester. Some of the best functional testers I’ve worked with have non-technical backgrounds in fields such as music and philosophy. And some of the best usability experts are ex-marketers who have an intuition and passion for “making stuff work.” Despite the diversity and differences, however, one common trait among great testers is their inquisitiveness and stubbornness for solving problems. For that I’m very grateful!
The discussion doesn’t have to stop here. Let us know what YOU like most about testing in the comments section below. As always, thanks for reading!