I don’t blog. Or at least I didn’t. Until now…
Why now you ask? Well, you didn’t. And that’s the problem. I prefer interacting with people one-on-one, or live and in-person, via discussion and dialogue, sharing experiences, debating ideas, researching and exploring, to find new and interesting ways to meet challenges and solve problems. So this format of speaking out loud into the interWeb-space is just plain weird for me. It’s so rare that I’d find myself making a statement, much less a soliloquy, to the unknown, faceless masses (or few), for the simple reason of speaking out loud. I have no need to do it. I speak inside my head just fine thank you.
So really, why now? Because many people have asked me to, and I want to honor that. I’ve been teaching software testing for quite a while now. More and more, my students <my constituents -or- workshop participants> have been asking me to write about what I teach and share it online. They seem to think it’s important, which validates for me that I'm delivering vital and relevant things that will impact their day-to-day situation. For me personally, nothing could be more satisfying and I'm grateful and humbled, every time. So many folks come to sessions with tremendous skill, experience, and passion for testing, but are also dismayed and disheartened about common challenges, dysfunctions, and things that block their success in practice.
As we work together, I see a transformation as they connect with the messages I share, and they often describe a feeling of renewed energy and overall empowerment, but also claim they've received new perspectives and implementable ideas that they are jazzed to utilize.
Given testing is such a crucial activity in delivering quality software, combined with my goal of supporting folks who have chosen a career in testing, I've come to realize my reach in the classroom is too limited as I can only encounter a small number of individuals at a time. Through a mechanism like writing the messages can be stored, used and re-used, and referenced, by a much larger group of people over a much longer period of time. That seems worth the effort. So here’s me, trying.
Where to start? At the beginning I suppose. Once upon a time … I was dubbed QA Engineer. It was an easy transition from technical support to the Quality Assurance group: I walked across the hallway. I became the lone tester on a project with no requirements, no project meetings, and unclear customer needs. I interfaced directly with the lead and only developer, and we shared a vast team of 10 UNIX boxes. I received no training, was given no books to read, attended no QA meetings, and rarely saw the QA Manager after I was hired. Reflecting back on this project, I’m pretty sure that I never “assured” anything.
Funnily enough, many of the things that baffled me then are some of the very same things people are talking about today in discussion groups, at conferences, in my training classes, and in blogs, over and over again:
- How do I test everything? (short answer, you don’t)
- When the project team asks me when I’ll be done, what do they mean by done?!?! (we could never be "done" testing, right?)
- How can I get all the testing done by the target ship date?
- There’s hundreds of thousands of configurations to test. Which ones should I pick?
- Development doesn’t fix all my bugs. Why?
That first project was 20 years ago, and through my interactions with people trying to come up with solutions to testing challenges, I often get to reflect on the fun and foibles of my own experiences.
Looking back now, what have I observed? Mostly that testing has a maturity curve (organizational, team, and personal). And it really doesn't have anything to do with how long you’ve been involved with testing. It has to do with your understanding of testing based on various situations you’ve been exposed to and what challenges you’ve faced.
I further suspect that for most people (me included), taking someone else’s wisdom and applying it, without understanding the goals, problems solved, and potential side effects, isn’t effective or acceptable. Some of us just need to try something, make mistakes, make observations, think, bang head on wall, and then try something else. I’ll call it pebble steps. Ya know, like stones you walk on instead of a sidewalk? Step by step. It’s a process of experiencing and learning.
So here’s my goal with blogging. I’d like to share my experiences to help others along their path, one step at a time. I’ve got some topics in my queue I’ll call the usual suspects. And I have a few rants here and there that I’ll share when I’m fired up about something.
Maybe we can spark some change and grow in our knowledge and skill together. I’m hoping, ultimately, that this alien medium of blogging will be a very fruitful endeavor for us all. I’m looking forward to meeting you in the blogsphere or in the real world of testerland at a conference or training course.
I’d also like to hear from you. What’s your challenge today? What have you tried to do to meet it? What’s been successful for you? What hasn’t?
All the best!