When Are Problems Introduced?

If names be not correct, language is not in accordance with the truth of things. Confucius, Analects There are lots of problems in software development, but one of the bigger ones is muddled process talk that leads to muddled process thinking. An email arrived in my inbox, touting an article titled The Shift-Left Approach to Software Testing. As it turns out, the article was written it 2018, and the source … Read more

Why Test Automation Projects Fail (and How We Might Succeed)

Every fifteen minutes or so, in testing blogs, on LinkedIn, at conferences, or on the job, someone raises the question of “why test automation projects fail”. Perhaps the question keeps coming up because there are so many failure modes, and so many possible answers. Here’s one answer, though: “test automation projects” are software development projects, and all software development projects are vulnerable to failure. One of the bigger and more … Read more

When Management Asks “Why Didn’t You Find That Bug?”

A tester asks… How do we handle production bugs? When management asks “Did you test this?”. how do I respond? When management asks “Why didn’t you find that bug?”, the first step is to accept in your own mind responsibility for looking for bugs, but not a commitment to finding every bug. The latter is a great aspiration, but an unreasonable commitment, and management shouldn’t be holding you to it. … Read more

Testers: Focus on Problems

A tester writes: “I’m testing an API. It accepts various settings and parameters. I don’t know how to get access to these settings from the API itself, so I’m stuck with modifying them from the front end. Moreover, some responses to specific requests are long and complicated, so given that, I have no idea how to test it! Online examples of API testing tend to focus on checking the response’s … Read more

Unlimited Charges

I noticed something interesting while reviewing my credit card bills a couple of evenings ago: monthly charges for $9.99 from “Amazon Downloads”, going back several months. I buy a lot of e-books. I looked for receipts from Amazon in email. I found a bunch, but none from Amazon for $9.99. I never delete email receipts; I put all of them into a separate folder so that I can collate them … Read more

Evaluating Test Cases, Checks, and Tools

For testers who are being asked to focus on test cases and testing tools, remember this: a test case never finds a bug. The tester finds a bug, and the test case may play a role in finding the bug. (Credit to Pradeep Soundararajan for putting this so succinctly, all those years ago.) Similarly, an automated check never finds a bug. The tester finds a bug, and the check may … Read more

What Lies Beneath

What Lies Beneath – AMA ft. Michael Bolton
In this AMA you can ask Michael anything about testing.

Michael Bolton is a consulting software tester and testing teacher who helps people to solve testing problems that they didn’t realize they could solve. He is the co-author (with James Bach) of Rapid Software Testing (RST), a methodology and mindset for testing software expertly and credibly in uncertain conditions and under extreme time pressure. He has taught RST to testers in 35 countries. Michael has been testing, developing, managing, and writing about software since 1988. For over 20 years, he has led DevelopSense, a Toronto-based testing and development consultancy. Prior to that, he was with Quarterdeck Corporation for eight years, during which he managed the company’s flagship products and directed project and testing teams both in-house and around the world. Contact Michael at, on Twitter @michaelbolton, or through his Web site,

This video is supported by Moolya Software Testing ( and Testvox (

Flaky Testing

The expression “flaky tests” is evidence of flaky testing. No scientist refers to “flaky experimental results”. Scientists who observe inconsistency don’t dismiss it. They pay close attention to it, and probe it. They redesign their experiments or put better controls on them. When someone refers to an automated check (or a suite of them) as a “flaky test”, the suggestion is that it represents an unreliable experiment. That assumption is … Read more

Necessary Confusion and the Bootstrap Heuristic

I’m testing a test tool at the moment. I’m investigating it for a talk. The producers of the tool claim to have hundreds of thousands of users. A few positive remarks appear in a scrolling widget on the product’s web site from people purported to be users. Me, I can’t make head or tail of the product. It doesn’t seem to do what it’s supposed to do. It looks like … Read more

First Aid for the Mission Statement

A while back, a tester brought a patient in for treatment. It wasn’t a human patient; it was a sentence about building and testing in an organization. The tester asked me for help. “Could you provide me with a first aid kit for this statement that came from my management?” “We have to move on to DevOps to be able to release code more often but we also have to … Read more