The Weasel Returns

I’m back home and back at work…and slowly getting used to both. It was by far the best (and longest) vacation I’ve had (or will probably ever have). While it’s good to be home, it’s a bit weird getting used to working again after so much time off (just over 8 weeks in total).

But – a lot happened while I was gone that’s probably worth at least a comment or two.

Borg News

Microsoft went a little crazy while I was out, but the moves (layoffs, strategy, etc.) make sense – as long as the execution is right. I feel bad for a lot of my friends who were part of the layoffs, and hope they’re all doing well by now (and if any are reading this, I almost always have job leads to share).

ISO 29119

A lot of testers I know are riled up (and rightfully so) about ISO 29119 – which, in a nutshell, is a “standard” for testing that says software should be tested exactly as described in a set of textbooks from the 1980’s. On one hand, I have the flexibility to ignore 29119 – I would never work for a company that thought it was a good idea. But I know there are testers who find themselves in a situation where they have to follow a bunch of busywork from the “standard” rather than provide actual value to the software project.

As for me…

Honestly, I have to say that I don’t think of myself as a tester these days. I know a lot about testing and quality (and use that to help the team), but the more I work on software, the more I realize that thinking of testing as a separate and distinct activity from software development is a road to ruin. This thought is at least partially what makes me want to dismiss 29119 entirely – from what I’ve seen, 29119 is all about a test team taking a product that someone else developed, and doing a bunch of ass-covering while trying to test quality into the product. That approach to software development doesn’t interest me at all.

I talked with a recruiter recently (I always keep my options open) who was looking for someone to “architect and build their QA infrastructure”. I told them that I’d talk to them about it if they were interested, but that my goal in the interview would be to talk them out of doing that and give them some ideas on how to better spend that money.

I didn’t hear back.


It’s also been a long hiatus from AB Testing. Brent and I are planning to record on Friday, and expect to have a new episode published by Monday September 22, and get back on our every-two-week schedule.


  1. I’m finding myself more and more of the same opinion with regard to ISO 29119. The whole thing feels like the last gasps of an industry innovated out of relevance decades ago who are steadily consolidating and moving deeper and deeper into large clients with deep pockets and lots of management layers. My only concern is for people who are faced with a prisoner’s dilemma by their current employer/client where the only real option is to quit. I’m happy to be in a place where simply walking away from the ultimatum is a viable option without serious risk to my well-being. I know others are not so lucky.

    1. This comment is a paragraph I wish I wrote myself and included in the above. This is exactly how I feel as well. I normally stay out of this stuff, but do want to help anyone who is stuck in a position where they have to follow something like 29119 (or any other asinine approach to software development).

      1. “… but do want to help anyone who is stuck in a position where they have to follow something like 29119 …”
        Ditto. Once I’m in a better place in this regard, I really want to do all I can to pay the kindness currently being extended to me forward.

  2. “the more I realize that thinking of testing as a separate and distinct activity from software development is a road to ruin.”

    I take this to mean you believe testing is part of software development? I believe testing is part of software development, but it is a separate and distinct activity from other functions of software development like programming, requirements engineering, etc. Do you make this distinction or find it useful?

    1. Perhaps separate and distinct leave too much ambiguity. I will say that testing as an isolated and serial activity to programming (rather than a parallel and collaborative activity) is bad.

      Thanks for the comment – I’ve been saying separate and distinct in conversation, but realize that it’s not as accurate as I meant it to be.

      1. Alan,
        I totally agree with the point of it (testing) be a parallel & collaborative activity. It is amazing that even with “agile” practices (and some older iterative/spiral models) that testing is an afterthought. As Rodney Dangerfield would say “No respect I tell ya, no respect”.

        Testing is a flip side of the coin activity from development in opinion. When ever I hear a project or company complain about “quality assurance” or “testing” not doing a good job the first thing I ask them is how early in the process do they start those activities. If they don’t say they start it from the beginning I have no sympathy for them.

        Otherwise, welcome back and keep posting. Always find your stuff to be interesting.


  3. I think first testing is not dead, it is still relevant. Tester will be relevant in some org, such as bank, government, some IT department, it just hard to get smart people in the fields, and can potentially be outsourced (remember the testing is dead talk?). It is no argue that we have many distinguished testers, such as James Bach, Cem Kaner and more, I just don’t know what direction will the test community and tester as professional goes. Microsoft is so special (its SDET role is too complex to see what is it, and it just started to follow what the new web companies such as Facebook, Twitter, Google about redefining testing).
    Instead of taking a certificate, I wonder rather read some testing books, although we don’t have any good testing books in two years.

  4. Welcome back, Alan. I’ve missed your thoughtful commentary.

    I know where I am now I’m gradually moving from “tests quality in at the end” to “involved all the way through the process as a quality advocate” – it’s a slow journey because this organization never had a test specialist before. It’s only taken 18 months of me finding problems with specifications for my manager to realize that having me on board when they’re figuring out what to build (instead of waiting until it’s been built…) might not be a bad idea!

    ISO 29119 is a big step backwards, all the way back to the waterfall (or should that be waterfail?) life cycle (I haven’t broken the workplace out of that one yet. Small steps.) and the costly project failures that went with it. I really don’t understand the mind-set – every project I’ve worked on has had different needs and different levels of documentation. Some could be handled with very little, others needed a whole lot of complex data and documents. It’s a bit like trying to mandate that everyone eat the same diet regardless of their activities, food allergies, whether they’re a professional athlete or have a desk job, how old they are… and then wondering why it doesn’t work.

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