Arkisto: October 2010

Searching for the Skill of Questioning

5. Octoberta, 2010 | Kirjoittaja: Antti Niittyviita

A cold swim. A while backwards, I visited Tampere to attend a model-based testing seminar by Mika Katara’s research team. The opening speech was given by Julian Harty, who had gathered testing experiences from Google and eBay. Julian gave a sharp opening to the testing automation seminar:

Most of testing automation is trash and ought to be put into a trashcan.

If you don’t believe this, then try it out yourself: Start the tests and, for example, after that shut down the server. Check the results.

Bafflingly often the automated tests produce a good pass-rate even when something central is missing from the environment. The purpose of a test such as this is to figure out how easy it is to make automated tests give false information. The question is about continuously questioning choices made. In addition to the target of testing one needs to remain critical towards the method of executing the testing.

One of the biggest sins of test automation is being lulled into a sense of comfort for having made a lot of work. The work feels like it has given results when you have succeeded in running a large test mass successfully through the automation. In situations such as this one needs to remember to challenge one’s own mindscape time after time to give reasons for the following: Is the purpose of testing to get the huge test mass past the checks, or catching the significant bugs in the system? What if instead of building automation we had spent the time to perform manual testing to catch bugs?

A successful testing is about having the skill to question, but simply that is not enough. One needs to communicate these to the others. One needs to be a social fellow. But even that is not enough. One needs to be able to find solutions independently and show them to one’s colleagues and superiors. These skills of an expert tester we also value and look… throughout Finland.

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