Improvement through practice

In music, the better you are at the basics, the better you are on the bandstand. Even the pro musicians I know practice almost every day. I think testers (and developers) forget the value of practice too often.

In The Passionate Programmer, Chad Fowler suggests doing the exercises on CodeKata. I checked them out, and sure enough, the Kata are great, and I plan to start working through them. A few years ago, I solved a bunch of problems on project euler as an exercise to keep myself sharp.

As a tester, it’s sometimes hard not to practice. As I interact with software, I often ask myself “what if” …then I try it and see what happens. But this is only “sort of” testing – it’s my tester DNA seeping out into my every day life.

I’ve been thinking about other ways to practice testing. I’m a member of uTest, but I haven’t taken the time to test anything. I suppose I could volunteer to test a non-profit’s web site or find a product I like to seriously beta-test – or I suppose I could look into volunteering a few hours a week in a MS product group.

How else do you practice testing?


  1. I practice testing by sending in bugs for most software I use. Most places take my bugs, except Hotmail two years ago and Comcast which both tried very hard to give me tech support instead. 🙂

    Also, Matt Heusser has tester challenges at I haven’t participated yet, but I’ve heard good things.

    One other thing I can recommend is doing some pair testing if you have any testers who are interested in collaboration. You may try going to visit one of your testers and just sitting next to them, ask what they are doing,

    I think at all levels of the test org it is helpful to at least know the state of the product, be able to get and run a build and do some test on it, maybe show someone else to troubleshoot the issue if needed. Knowing the current status can help fill in the often widening gap between reality and the perceived quality of the software.

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