It’s a big world (of testing) out there

A few weeks ago, I talked about some presentations I was involved with for internal audiences at Microsoft. Joe Strazzere asked if I could share slides or elaborate, so here goes (on one topic at least).

I’ve never met Joe – but I feel like I know him a little. I interact with testers regularly that I’ve never met. I take time every day to see what testers are doing, what they’re trying, and what they’re thinking. The problem is, that if you’re reading this, you’re probably the same as me. You look beyond the walls of your job to discover new ideas about testing. The talk I helped with (Joshua Williams actually ran the talk) was about looking outside the walls of Microsoft (or wherever you work) to discover what other testers were doing and what they cared about. The best testers I know have a passion for learning – but more importantly, they seek out new ways of learning, rather than just reading one source, or following the work of one test blogger or consultant.

So – I gave them options. I talked about the testing stack exchange, software testing club, test republic, and sqaforums. I talked about Software Test & Performance…I mean Software Test & Quality Assurance magazine and Better Software. We have a license for the IEEE Explore site, and I unveiled the world of academic papers on testing (and above all stressed the importance of critical thinking when attempting to suck down this info). I tell a story sometimes about the first testing book I read. It opened my eyes – after reading it, I felt like I knew everything (I was too naive to challenge it). I read a second book on testing and noticed that it contradicted the first book sometimes. It wasn’t until I read my third (and fourth, fifth, sixth and more) that I began to form my own opinions about testing. Forming your own opinions – rather than just repeating what others say, is something I value tremendously in testers I work with. I also gave a nice plug to weekend testing, as the movement is all about learning and testing.

We also talked about open source. We’re not big adopters of oss at Microsoft, so a lot of people don’t know much about what’s out there. I said what I could without pissing off our lawyers too much.

That was pretty much it. There were some good tangents in the discussion section. Somebody was disappointed that we just didn’t tell them what was happening in the industry (you’re missing the point), but I hope we at least opened a few people’s eyes to the world of testing.

If you’re reading this, this post probably isn’t for you – but get your coworkers (just the one’s you care about should be fine) to look beyond their little part of the world to learn. It’s a big world of testing out there.


  1. Thanks for sharing, Alan.

    With my testing team, I also try to get them to expand their horizons and learn about new ideas.

    We meet informally every other week to talk about ideas, books, tips, etc. (Currently, we are reading and discussing “Lessons Learned in Software Testing”. I hope to write about that experience soon.) I subscribe to a bunch of trade magazines for our team’s book shelf. And I post articles and links that I find interesting on our team’s SharePoint site.

    Still, some in the team are explorers – they have always been in the habit of seeking out these sorts of things. And others simply are not – they tend to stay within the confines of the already-known. I can nudge them a bit, but I haven’t yet found a way to change them. I’ll keep trying.

    BTW, I too feel like I know you a little. Thinking about it a bit, I realize that when I read a few books, stories, essays, articles, from a particularly good writer, then I feel like I know them, at least a little. It’s a good feeling. Thank you for that!

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