About Alan

This is the stuff I share with conference folks who want to describe me in a few paragraphs to people who may want to hear what I have to say. While the below establishes credibility (or could…), what you really need to know about me is that I’m not afraid to ask tough questions or speak the truth (listen to the ABTesting podcast for plenty of examples). When speaking, I’m occasionally entertaining, but almost always provocative.

Alan has been improving software quality since 1993 and is currently the Vice President of Engineering Services at Unity Technologies. Previous to joining Unity in 2017, Alan spent 22 years at Microsoft working on projects spanning the company – including a two-year position as Microsoft’s Director of Test Excellence.
Alan was the lead author of the book “How We Test Software at Microsoft”, contributed chapters for “Beautiful Testing”,  and “Experiences of Test Automation: Case Studies of Software Test Automation”. His latest ebook (which may or may not see updates soon) is a collection of essays on test automation called “The A Word: Under the Covers of Test Automation” and is available on leanpub . For the latest information on Alan, listen to the AB Testing Podcast which he co-hosts with Brent Jensen.

And here’s the long version I use when I need to give people a lot more background of what and who I am.

I’m a native of the Pacific Northwest, moving from Spokane, WA to the Seattle area when I was 3 years old. I studied music in college, graduating with major degrees in Music Composition and Music Education. I taught music (high school Jazz, and middle school band) for 4 years before taking a year off to get a masters degree in Music Composition.

While working on my masters degree, I got pretty good at using a PC, and making it work with music programs (this was 1992, and I used a DOS based music notation program with all kinds of memory requirements). After graduate school, I worked as a bike messenger for about 6 months. The job was getting dangerous, so I applied for a dozen random jobs on Sunday morning, and ended up interviewing and getting a job at a company called Midisoft, where I was hired to do technical support for their music products. On my first day, they told me I was also their network administrator and software tester.

I worked at Midisoft for about 18 months, learning basic and C while I was there. When it was time for me to go (long story of ethics), I again, applied for a bunch of jobs, and was eventually hired in a contract position to help test networking on Windows 95. They apparently liked what I did, as I was hired as a full time employee six months later, in June, 1995.

I spent 22 years at Microsoft. IIRC, my job titles in order were: STE->SDE->Development Lead->Test Architect->Director of Test Excellence->Principal SDET->Principal Engineering Manager, and worked on a bunch of flavors of Windows and Windows CE, and Xbox One; a stupid science project to make Android apps run on Windows Phone,  Microsoft Teams, and a few other projects probably not worth listing. I spent 18 months (give or take) as Microsoft’s Director of Test Excellence – which was basically an internal role for developing and delivering technical training, and for building community across the company (something I continued to do long after I left that role). One other thing worth mentioning is that I was heavily involved in developing Microsoft’s “Career Guides” – something that I am either proud or ashamed of, depending on how they were used.

With zero reluctance, I left my bags of stock options behind in January 2017, and joined Unity Technologies, where I initially took a role running QA for their services teams, and currently am a Senior Director of Engineering in the Operate Solutions group (ads and web services).

I have a blog (angryweasel.com), and a podcast (with Brent Jensen) at https://angryweasel.com/ABTesting. Something worth sharing out of that podcast are the Modern Testing Principles. We call these “Modern” as an opposition to “Traditional” test last / test quality in approaches, and are Engineering Principles rather than having much to do with testing.

I’ve written a book (How We Test Software at Microsoft), and e-book (The A Word), and contributed chapters to a few others, and I’ve given talks, workshops, and keynotes at software and software testing conferences around the world. I have a blog (angryweasel.com/blog), where I will occasionally write brief articles, but inspired by Tim Ferris’ 5-bullet-Friday series, I started writing my Five for Friday posts containing interesting links or quotes  I found throughout the week.

I’m a soccer fanatic, enjoy sous vide cooking, and I’m spending a lot of time recently with my dog, Terra.


  1. Question regarding HWTSAM related to unit testing. Is the SDE responsible for the unit test, or is it the SDET. If it is the SDE, when the SDET who receives unit tested code from the SDE, does he perform his own unit tests, or does he perform higher level integration testing or such?
    Thanks so much!

    1. SDEs own unit testing – and usually some level of functional or component testing (and sometimes more).

      SDETs worry about large scenarios, and use data to analyze quality at a large scale.

  2. Alan i think you need to update this page. “Currently a Principal Software Design Engineer in Test (SDET) on the Xbox team, Alan spends his time designing and implementing test infrastructure and tests; and coaching and mentoring testers and test managers across the Xbox organization. Alan also leads company-wide quality and testing focused communities made up of senior engineering employees.” – seems little out of date 😛

  3. Hi Alan,

    I was trying to subscribe the RSS feed, however I think it is broken. Can you please have a look and let me know when can I proceed?

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