Testing Pearls Of Wisdom

As you may or may not be aware, I’m currently half way through helping to deliver a software testing bootcamp. This involves me working as part of a team of instructors (who are all working testers) to give sessions on various topics to those wishing to pursue a career in software testing.

I’m enjoying the course a lot, as aside from learning loads it has made me reassess some of my core values, and try to put them in a pithy, easy to read way that can translate to different audiences.

I decided to create Twitter/LinkedIn posts using tools like Canva to create the images below, and I’ve been pretty amazed at the positive response.

My philosophy on growth

"If you learn the why, you can always Google the how"
“If you learn the why, you can always Google the how” quote

I’ve learnt this from years of watching developers and other testers, whilst also letting my Imposter Syndrome talk me into thinking that doing exactly as they were doing somehow translated into me being rubbish at my job. I attended a mock interview recently, and one of the responses was “we don’t expect you to have the answer to your fingertips every single time, just tell us your thought processes to how you know where to find the answer”. I Google stuff every. single. day. I couldn’t debug an automated test without using Stack Overflow, and I lean on others for guidance and support both in work and outside it. And this actually makes me better at my job – because often my instinct is proved wrong, and I can refine what I’ve done long before I’ve taken myself down a rabbit warren of mistakes. And judging by the 200+ comments on this post, a helluva lot of people feel the same.

Automated Car Analogy

Quote "Automated software testing is like driving an automatic car.  The car takes care of the checks, like wipes, lights and gears. This frees up the driver to focus more fully on the unexpected and more complex twists, turns and bumps in the road."
Test Automation Analogy: Automated Car

I came up with this one when driving my car (my first ever automatic, nothing fancy mind) back from the supermarket. I noticed a car in the opposite lane with its hazards on, and it took me fully 5 seconds to realise it had stopped on the road so that the driver could visit the Tesco over the fence. Not a great bit of driving, and the cars behind were similarly confused. I thought to myself, if I’d have been thinking about that for 5 seconds and had to concentrate on the road as well as gear changes and wipers (it was raining) I’d have probably stalled. But my automatic car took care of those checks for me, giving me that head space I needed to assess the dangers, or lack thereof, in front of me.

Automated testing is just the same – get those repetitive regression checks taken care of by the machine, and allow the driver to explore the application at leisure.

Bug Reporting = Archaeology

Quote "Reporting software bugs is like digging for dinosaur bones.  The best thing you can do when you find something is to uncover as much as you can before you confidently shout "It's a T-Rex!""
Bug Reporting as Archaeology Analogy

I’ve got to thank @TheTestingPeers for this one, as they refined my original thoughts. This one works on a few levels, as identified by David Maynard and Russell Craxford. Firstly, in archeology people dig in teams of different experts – so you can call on the right person to help you figure out what you are seeing as part of your analysis.

Secondly, archaeologists have to document the position of what they have found, in much the same way testers do (e.g. this is on chrome version 88.39393) – adding this detail instead of just shouting “I’ve found something”, when something may turn out to be a chicken bone will save the team time and earn you a reputation as someone who’s opinion can be relied upon.

Thirdly, archaeology, just as testing, is mostly about what you don’t find. You can asses the quality of a piece of software by its absence of bugs (as long as your testing the right things) as much as by the existence of them. Knowing something isn’t a T-Rex, and being confident of that assertion, is just as mighty.

Summary

I hope you’ve enjoyed these pithy analogies. Feel free to share with anyone who would benefit from seeing them.

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