Thursday, January 18, 2007

significance of developer-tester/tester-developer

This idea of programmers-who-test and testers-who-program is starting to inform my daily work.

Reading articles about fantastic projects that sail to the end is all well and good, those great stories are something we strive for, but accomplish only occasionally. From day to day, our designs could be better, our test coverage could be better; our test plans could be better, our test cases could be more powerful.

I wrote the same bug in a couple of places this week. Luckily, my Customer was a tester. One of the developers I work with had a merge/commit problem a couple of times this week. Luckily, I was his tester, and I've struggled with merges and commits myself. We're working on figuring out how to prevent such errors in the future.

As a toolsmith, my Customers are testers. I go out of my way to write readable code so that they can inspect what I am creating. I encourage collaboration, and my Customers are coming to the realization that I need their help to recognize the bugs and get to the end.

As a tester, I am a Customer for the developers. I am working hard to understand how they go about writing and committing code. I am sympathetic when something goes haywire. I treat that as an opportunity to learn more about design.

As a tester-developer, I am working hard to understand the design and programming constraints of the system. I'm building automated tests and exploratory tests that expose the weakest parts.

As a developer-tester, I am working to include all the (programming and non-programming) consumers of my test scripts I can find, because I recognize that I work best when I collaborate. Disappearing into a closet until I personally resolve every issue simply takes too long and is just too boring to consider.

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