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Showing posts from November, 2010

UI test smells: if() and for() and files

I read with interest Matt Archer's blog post entitled "How test automation with Selenium or Watir can fail"

He shows a couple of examples that, while perfectly valid, are poor sorts of tests to execute at the UI level.  Conveniently, Mr. Archer's tests are so well documented that it is possible to point to exactly to where the smells come in. 

The test in the first example describes a UI element that has only two possible states: either "two-man lift" or "one-man lift", depending on the weight of an item.  In a well-designed test for a well-designed UI, it should be possible for the test to validate that only those two states are available to the user of the UI, and then stop.  

But Mr. Archer's test actually reaches out to the system under test in order to open a file whose contents may be variable or even arbitrary, iterates over the contents of the file, and attempts to check that the proper value is displayed in the UI based on the cont…

close reading/critical thinking

The last Weekend Testers (Australia/New Zealand) was brilliant. Let me urge you to read Marlena Compton's report and the transcript of the session.

This sort of practical implementation of critical theory is long overdue in the testing community, and the WTANZ crew did a great job of using a well-known theoretical tool to analyze and dissect some real problems in some real work.

Compare what WTANZ did with Zeger Van Hese's recent demonstration of deconstruction.

This sort of work, bringing reputable and sophisticated critical theory to bear on actual testing and QA activity, is a field wide open, barely explored, and long overdue. 

May we see much more of it soon.

more on certs, more numbers

I noticed (thanks Twitterverse) that there was an interview with Rex Black over on the UTest blog.  In that interview he reveals a very interesting number:

"...the ISTQB has issued over 160,000 certifications in the last ten years."

Using the numbers from my previous post:  if we assume that there are about 3,000,000 software testers in the world right now, and if we issued 160,000 certifications right now, that would mean about 5 certifications for every 100 software testers.   

I would be willing to bet that there were about the same number of testers ten years ago:  Y2K was just over and the value of dedicated testers had been shown.   But as Alan Page and others have noted, there is a lot of turnover, a lot of churn, among those practicing software testing. 

So my numbers start to get a little sketchy here, I don't have anything to back them, so consider this a thought experiment:  as noted above, let's say that there were about 3 million testers a decade ago an…

an object of interest

I bought this recently at a guerilla art show:



Here it is hanging in my office:


The poster caught my eye because I've loved the Alice books all my life and I re-read them often. I am especially fond of the Tenniel illustrations, and the one for Jabberwocky is a favorite.

The poster also caught my eye because of the odd and interesting typeface. The story behind that typeface is fascinating. I asked the artist to send me that story in email so that I could have it written down:

The story is this:
Just south of where I grew up (near Green Bay, WI) is the Hamilton Wood Type Museum. A while back, I visited armed with a few sheets of printmaking paper with the goal of printing some or all of the Jabberwocky poem from some original wood type. During the course of the 19th and 20th century Hamilton made wood type for advertisements and headlines and circuses and had gone on to accumulate wood type from other manufacturers who had given in to market pressures or the eventual obsolesc…

XP, Scrum, Lean, and QA

Before I do this, two things up front: for one thing, I am a crappy programmer. I read code far better than I write it, and I read non-OO code better than I read OO code. Also, I am writing as someone who knows a lot about Quality Assurance and testing, and very little about the hands-on day-to-day work of modern programming. So here goes:

As a QA guy, I know this: long before Scrum and XP and the Agile Manifesto, people working in Computer Science and software development knew three things about software quality: having an institutional process for code review always improves software quality; having automated unit tests (for some value of "unit") with code coverage improves software quality; and having frequent, fast builds in a useful feedback loop improves software quality. Sorry, I don't have references handy, I read most of this stuff about a decade ago. Maybe some heavy CS people could leave references in the comments.

The XP practices simply institutionaliz…