Happy Birthday HWTSAM

Amazon just started sharing Nielsen BookScan reports to authors. Since I don’t get commissions for How We Test Software at Microsoft (hwtsam), I don’t generally see sales numbers, but I’m happy to see that people still buy the book (note for internal readers – orders through msmarket do not reflect in the BookScan ratings). Anyway – it looks like the book sold a whopping 32 copies last month. That’s certainly not a big number, but it’s sort of nice to know that people are still taking a chance buying a book about testing at Microsoft (also note that BookScan numbers are US only).

Today is the two year anniversary of the release of hwtsam. I wrote a post a year ago to commemorate the one-year anniversary, but I don’t think I’ll look it up to link to it because that would just make me too afraid to repeat myself.

I should take this moment to point out that Michael Larsen is in the middle of a chapter by chapter review of the book. He’s doing a fantastic job summarizing the book and sharing examples. Thanks Michael.

I remain proud of how the book ended up. Yes, it could have been better, and yes, I do find it slightly ironic that a book on testing was released with a small handful of typos, but I do believe the points still get across.

The book was a snapshot in time – ok, maybe not a snapshot – more of a window. If we wrote the book today, certainly, some of the subjects would change (and certainly my bio), we’d have more stories (or at least more current stories), but I’d guess that most of the subject matter would be the same – and I think that’s a good reflection on our choices for which areas of Microsoft testing to highlight.

The stories were my favorite part of the book. I’m sure this is partially because I didn’t have to write most of them, but I love books like "Writing Solid Code", and "The Pragmatic Programmer" that have stories and anecdotes buried within the prose and wanted to try something like that. I know that different people find value in different things, but I hope that some of the readers found value in the stories as well.

I recently put together a case study for an upcoming book containing a collection of test automation case studies (more details on this book when they’re available). In my search for an "interesting" case study to document, I came across dozens of really cool things going on within the walls of Microsoft that people wanted to share. My first thought was "come on folks – don’t you have a blog or something where you could share this stuff?" I’m not ready to shepherd another book yet, but someday when I find myself with a few spare months of time to blow, I may consider putting together a book of stories and anecdotes only about testing at Microsoft. We’ll see.

I speak at our new employee orientation periodically. I’m supposed to give an inspirational talk about my product or something I’m passionate about. I always talk about software quality and why we need the new people to speak up and use their fresh eyes to improve our company – this holds true for the software folks as well as the sales, legal, marketing and HR folks in the room. After a talk last spring, a young woman – a new college hire, tracked me down in the back of the room following my presentation. She asked me to sign her book and told me that she discovered the book in college and knew as soon as she read it that she wanted to be a tester at Microsoft. That situation has happened a few times since then, and the feeling of satisfaction on accomplishing one of my big goals in writing the book is huge.

In closing my annual Happy Birthday to hwtsam post, I want to say thank you again to those of you have read the book, supported the ideas, or even taken some of what we talked about and applied it to your own work or own organizations. You all made the effort that went into the book worthwhile.

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