Arkisto: December 2011

Illusion of Uniqueness

19. Decemberta, 2011 | Kirjoittaja: Antti Niittyviita

I discuss a lot with people who make their living from product development. Some make complex design systems. Others do difficult web applications. The third firm does stuff with production control systems. All these sound quite different. It has been most interesting to notice that in all the discussions there is one common factor. Which is, that all of them speak in unison that:

Our product and industry is so unique that breaking in new friends takes years

A bunch of hogwash I say. Your industry and business might be unique, but your products are just software among software. It runs the same programming languages, interfaces, servers and clients as all the others. Your methods of software development is just the same as hundreds of other software firms. The same kinds of bugs repeat from one system to the other, regardless of if it handles customer web services or industrial control software.

Industry-based knowhow is useful, granted, but do you know what the people in other firms are by trade? They belong to software development teams. They are your run of the mill coders, testers, specsers and managers. They all have a very common background. In the end, they know their trade pretty damn well.

Functional code is born, bugs found, and design is not a problem. Understanding your industry accumulates over the years, but at the same pace, people get railroaded and form social bubbles. People want to zealously believe in their own uniqueness. Ultimately, this leads to there being fewer and fewer fresh ideas and stuff gets done stubbornly the same way as “we have always done before”.

I claim that your industry’s uniqueness is an illusion that is born when you and your friends sit around the same sandbox for too long. It is worth going out for a breath of fresh air once in a while. To keep an open mind, to watch how the others do just the same things as you do.

P.S. Is your product unique? Can it not be tested without years of experience? Tell me about it, and I will send in a fully layman tester. I say that in two weeks, the person will become a useful member of the testing team. If not, you get your money back and I will humbly treat you to a supper.

Wonderful Automation

2. Decemberta, 2011 | Kirjoittaja: Antti Niittyviita

The verdant lawn was glistening with the fresh morning dew after a cold night. The sun had ascended over the cloudless horizon. I was sipping my morning coffee on my terrace and listening to the birds singing in the forest nearby. A tranquil Saturday morning was shattered by a faint buzzing noise, which kept on growing in intensity. I recognized the sound, since I had had to listen to the same noise multiple times before, the noise caused by the neighbour’s new robot lawnmower.

Something was amiss this time around, though. I saw how the mower was heading straight for the apple tree in the center of the yard. A collision was imminent and unavoidable. Despite its best efforts to flay about, the masterpiece of gardening technology was caught stuck in the roots of the apple tree, and could not free itself without outside help. The neighbor was traveling, so I kindly loosened the robot and continued sipping the morning coffee. I thought deep thoughts. Even philosophical ones.

What if that lawn could have represented a testing set and every blade of grass were a test case. The automation kept handling them in peace and everything seemed to be fine, until the unexpected happens. Very often, the automation does not restore itself from the error. It always requires human intervention. A pretty common misconception is that an automation can replace a human person. This is why people often imagine that test automation also means cheap testing.

What good is automation testing, then? Naturally, five workers would mow the lawn significantly faster than a robot. However, by getting a robot, we can free up these five people to do something more important. While they can, for example, improve the span of the lawn and eliminate weeds.

When a property has once been marked as functioning as intended, the robot gets assigned to take care of it from that point onwards, so that the property does not get broken unwittingly.

When used right, automation is an excellent tool, which frees up tester’s hands for the actual essential work! So, let automation check and the professional to test.