Filling A Hole

I haven’t blogged much recently, and it’s mainly for three reasons.

  1. I’m busy – probably the hardest I’ve worked in all of my time in software. And although there have been a few late nights, the busy isn’t coming from 80-100 hour weeks, it’s coming from 50 hour weeks of working on really hard shit. As a result, I haven’t felt like writing much lately.
  2. I can’t tell you.
  3. I’m not really doing much testing.

It’s the third point that I want to elaborate on, because it’s sort of true, and sort of not true – but worth discussing / dumping.

First off, I’ve been writing a ton of code recently. But not really much code to test the product directly. Instead, I’ve been neck deep in writing code to help us test the product. This includes both infrastructure (stories coming someday), and tools that help other testers find bugs. I frequently say that a good set of analysis tools to run alongside your tests is like having personal testing assistants. Except you don’t have to pay them, and they don’t usually interrupt you while you’re thinking.

I’ve also been spending a lot of time thinking about reliability, and different ways to measure and report software reliability. There’s nothing really new there other than applying the context of my current project, but it’s interesting work. On top of thinking about reliability and the baggage that goes along with it, I spend a lot of time making sure the right activities to improve reliability happen across the org. I know that some testers identify themselves as “information providers”, but I’ve always found that too passive of a role for my context. My role (and the role of many of my peers) is to not only figure out what’s going on, but to figure out what changes are needed, and then make them happen.

And this last bit is really what I’ve done for years (with different flavors and variations). I find holes and I make sure they get filled. Sometimes I fill the holes. Often, I need to get others to fill the holes – and ideally, make them want to fill them for me. I work hard at this, and while I don’t always succeed, I often do, and I enjoy the work. Most often, I’m driving changes in testing – improving (or changing) test design, test tools, or test strategy. Lately, there’s been a mix of those along with a lot of multi-discipline work. The fuzzy blur between disciplines on our team (and on many teams at MS these days) contributes a lot to that, and just “doing what needs to be done” fills in the rest.

I’m still a tester, of course, and I’ll probably wear that hat until I retire. What I do while wearing that hat will, of course, change often – and that’s (still) ok.

One Comment

  1. Posted May 9, 2013 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    Regarding “writing code to help us test the product” and the Tests vs. Checks hype…

    I wonder if you happen to know any tool which will take a parameter basic data (such as type, default value, and allowed boundaries) and will automatically run the basic checks expected from a field of that type ?

    I mean – these CHECKS are normally important to run just once, as we introduce a new feature, so it would be a waste of time to write them,
    It would also be a waste of time to ask a tester to perform these trivial and annoying tests,
    BUT never the less – These must be tested (just this time).
    I assume that when the feature reach 2nd testing cycle, it will be stable enough to already test combinations of these parameters values within the whole context and logic of the feature/system – and these will be the tests worth documenting, and manually executed / write automation for.

    There were several attempts to define these Generic / Reusable Checks per topic, which actually could have been shared between companies as these are mostly not
    product specific – but none of these really took off – and we (as the testers community) still don’t have such set of tests to share. :-(

    I still hope we could make this happen,
    or at least to find an open tool to easily run some of the most basic tests of boundary & equivalence class (or at least prepare the required data set) .

    Would appreciate any link.

    @halperinko – Kobi Halperin

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