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Showing posts from October, 2009

when to use analogy

Analogy is a useful device when used to describe the things that we work on; but it is actively dangerous when used to describe our work itself.

When we're building software, it is useful to be able to say for example "it's like a library, where someone can make use of a feature and then stop using it so that someone else can use that feature" or "it's like a train, where there are just a few places where anyone can get on or where anyone can get off"

But when we use analogy to talk about our work, we invite misconception and misinterpretation. To say "writing software is like making a cake" invites misperception. Does writing software involve flour and sugar? Is there frosting involved?

Of course someone who says such a thing *probably* means that to write software one must do certain steps in a certain order-- but it is far better to describe the actual steps ("red, green, refactor" is not an analogy) than to invoke analogy, b…

CFP: Peer conference "Writing About Testing" May 21/22 Durango CO

CFP: Peer conference "Writing About Testing" May 21/22 Durango CO

I am organizing a a peer conference for people working in software testing and software development who write about their work in public. The conference will be organized LAWST-style, much like the recurring Austin Workshop on Test Automation or the Tester-Developer/Developer-Tester conference I helped organize in 2007.

The original proposal is on my blog here:

There is significant demand for public information about software testing and software development and software process. This conference is for people who want to influence the public discourse on these subjects through public writing.

If you are interested in the subject, but not necessarily interested in the peer conference, there is a private mail list for writing about testing whose members include both writers and publishers. I (or any other member of the li…