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Testing is Socially Challenging

This post has been brewing for a while, but a LinkedIn conversation today reminded me to put it in the bottle and ship it. Testing is socially challenging. There’s a double meaning there. One meaning is that testing involves challenging the product and our beliefs about it, in a social context. The other meaning is that probing the product and people’s beliefs about it can sometimes be uncomfortable for everyone … Read more

Learning from Little Bugs

I was investigating some oddness in Google Search today. Perhaps I’ll write about that later. But for now, here’s something I stumbled upon as I was evaluating one of the search results. Is this a problem? I think the developers of this site mean to say “Free delivery in the GTA for orders over $99″. (The GTA is the Greater Toronto Area.) Next question: is this a big problem? Will … Read more

Very Short Blog Posts (37): “Testing slows down the project.”

I’ve had a long career in this silly business. All the way along, one of the sillier things that people have said is this: “Testing slows down the project.” This is roughly equivalent to saying that looking out the windshield and attending to the dashboard slows down the journey. Sometimes people say that discovering problems slows down the project, but that’s not true either. Discovering problems can dispel the illusion … Read more

Talking About Coverage

A while back I wrote a post on coverage. In fact, I’ve written a few posts about coverage, but I’m talking about this one. A question came up recently on LinkedIn that helped me to realize I had left out something important. In that post, referring to coverage as “the proportion of the product that has been tested”, I said A software product is not a static, tangible thing; it’s a … Read more

Talking About Testing

Frequently, both online and in face-to-fact conversations, testers express reservations to me about making a clear distinction between testing and checking when talking to others. It’s true: “test” is an overloaded word. In some contexts, it refers to a heuristic process: evaluating a product by learning about it through experiencing, exploring and experimenting; that’s what testers refer to when they’re talking about testing, and that’s how we describe it in … Read more

Premature Formalization

Formal Bow Tie and Shirtfront

“The real problem is that programmers have spent far too much time worrying about efficiency in the wrong places and at the wrong times; premature optimization is the root of all evil (or at least most of it) in programming.” -Donald Knuth, The Art of Computer Programming Most of the time testing shouldn’t be too formal — unless you want to miss lots of bugs. To test something formally means … Read more

Testing Deep and Shallow (3): Determination

After almost a year of the blog lying fallow, it’s time to continue the series on Testing Deep and Shallow that begins here. (Shallow testing (not an insult!) is testing that has a chance of finding every easy bug. Deep testing maximizes the chance of finding every elusive bug that matters.) Premise 6 of Rapid Software Testing is about cost and value. “We commit to performing credible, cost-effective testing, and … Read more

Testing Deep and Shallow (2): “Shallow” is a feature, not an insult!

When we talk about deep and shallow testing in the Rapid Software Testing namespace, some people might assume that we mean “deep testing” is good and decent and honourable, and that we mean “shallow” to be an insult. But we don’t. “Shallow” is not an insult. Depth and shallowness are ways of talking about the thoroughness of testing, but they’re not assessments of its value. The value or quality or … Read more

Testing Deep and Shallow (1): Coverage

Many years ago, I went on a quest. “Coverage” seemed to be an important word in testing, but it began to occur to me that I had been thinking about it in a vague, hand-wavey kind of way. I sensed that I was not alone in that. I wanted to know what people meant by coverage. I wanted to know what I meant by coverage. In the Rapid Software Testing … Read more

“What Tests Should I Automate?”

Instead of asking “What tests should I automate?” consider asking some more pointed questions. If you really mean “how should I think about using tools in testing?”, consider reading A Context-Driven Approach to Automation in Testing, and Testing and Checking Refined. If you’re asking about the checking of output or other facts about the state of the product, keep reading. Really good fact checking benefits from taking account of your … Read more