Alan Page

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notes and rants about testing and quality from alan page
Updated: 21 hours 20 min ago

<sigh> Automation…again

Tue, 05/26/2015 - 10:53

I think this is the first time I’ve blogged about automation since writing…or, to be fair, compiling The A Word.

But yet again, I see questions among testers about the value of automation and whether it will replace testers, etc.. For example, this post from Josh Grant asks whether there are similarities between automated trucking and automated testing. Of course, I think most testers will go on (and on) about how much brainpower and critical thinking software testing needs, and how test automation can never replace “real testing”. They’re right, of course, but there’s more to the story.

Software testing isn’t at all unique among professions requiring brain power, creativity, or critical thinking. I challenged  you to bingoogle “Knowledge Work” or Knowledge Worker”, and not see the parallels to software testing in other professions. You know what? Some legal practices can be replaced by automation or by low-cost outsourcing – yet I couldn’t find any articles, blogs, or anything else from lawyers complaining about automation or outsourcing taking away their jobs (disclaimer – I only looked at the first two pages of results on simple searches). Apparently, however, there are “managers” (1000’s of them if I’m extrapolating correctly) who claim that test automation is a process for replacing human testers. Apparently, these managers don’t spend any time on the internet, because I could only find second hand confirmation of their existence.

At risk of repeating myself (or re-repeating myself…) you should automate the stuff that humans don’t want (or shouldn’t have) to do. Automate the process of adding and deleting 100,000 records; but use your brain to walk through a user workflow. Stop worrying about automation as a replacement for testing, but don’t’ ignore the value it gives you for accomplishing the complex and mundane.

(potentially) related posts:
  1. To Automate…?
  2. Test Design for Automation
  3. Last Word on the A Word
Categories: Software Testing

Forwards and Backwards

Tue, 05/05/2015 - 11:53

What a year it’s been so far. I’ve been away from blogging, and I’m not quite sure if I’m back yet, but I expect so…and here’s why.

The project I’m working on at Microsoft is no longer a secret. I’ve never blogged a lot about product specifics, but since a big chunk of my work for the last year has been way off my normal path (linux, java, etc.), I just didn’t find a lot to share (not necessarily because I wanted to help keep the project under wraps, but because pushing through n00b questions on tools and language constructs probably isn’t very exciting for my typical audience).

There’s also been a lot of change – net little change in what I do day to day. For the last several years, my role (which many wouldn’t call testing) has been to figure out what’s not getting done, and make sure it gets done. With Xbox (and Lync before that), that meant helping the test team – either by coaching or mentoring, or developing strategy, or building tools, or asking questions about the product, or whatever needed to be done – by myself, or through others.

That (figuring out what needs to get done) is exactly what I do for my current team. But on this team, those holes and gaps have been mostly about improving our builds, CI, testing, and other parts of our systems that make our build->measure->learn loop more efficient and effective. I help with testing too, but in different ways than in the past.

I’m going to give a keynote at STAR Canada next month where I’ll talk a bit about what I do, and how it’s changed over the last few years. I’ll also try to dispel the silly myths  / bad interpretations that MS doesn’t do testing anymore. As I develop that talk, I expect I’ll come up with some good blog fodder to share and to help develop ideas. Crap – now that I think about it, I should have that talk a lot further along than it is right now. I better put some time on that right now.

If you haven’t already, please check out the AB Testing podcast.

(potentially) related posts:
  1. Let it happen
  2. Filling A Hole
  3. Some Stuff I’ve Learned
Categories: Software Testing