“So, what should I do tomorrow?”

Far too long I have skipped this write-up. The motivation for this entry comes mainly from Anne-Marie Charrett who hada dream about software testing. Rob Lambert then reminded me on this by stating that I shouldn’t judge people too quickly. So, what is this all about?

Reflecting over my personal education and development background, I got from university four years ago into software testing. Never having heard of anything about it, never actually confronted with test-driven development, knowing nothing more than the concept behind it. I was introduced to software testing just by getting to know the shell-script based test automation part that was done in my department. Over the course of one or two years, we found out that we got a problem.

So, I started to dig deeper, and came across Lessons Learned in Software Testing. The ideas blew my mind. As a result from that I got paralyzed, rather not knowing what to do about it. It took me nearly half a year to incorporate my knowledge back to action.

“So, what should I do tomorrow?” is a question I would have asked by that time. Today, I know more things, maybe, but still the problem behind it exists. New testers coming from the university, lacking knowledge of software testing due to lack of courses or interests at the university, get into our profession, and are faced with the impossible struggles, that you can’t automate everything, can’t test everything, can’t assure anything. More often than not, these testers don’t get proper job introductions, don’t get formal classroom training – or maybe just too late – and need to self-educate themselves a big deal.

So, instead of paralyzing these testers, there must be something better. Sure, there are a bunch of great books out there, but personally I started to hate most testing related books. They are neither brief, they don’t tell real-world stories, and translating the concepts and ideas into action is a hard thing. In addition it’s hard to find out which books to read while the thought-leader of the testing community keep on fighting about vi vs. emacs in testing.

There are indeed some rays of hope. Matt Heusser for example is working on a book titled “Testers at work”. Just the title makes me wallow in great hopes. “Beautiful Testing” edited by Adam Goucher is another one (though I still haven’t read it, yet). Instead of arguing one over another all the time, I think time has come to actually help new people getting into the field and master our craft. Interactions with developers, interactions with project managers, interactions with superiors and other testers are all circumstances a new tester will run into. Leading new testers astray here in the beginning is a very bad thing to do. How come a lot of sticky minds are fostered in our profession? Do they just end up as testers, since they can’t find another job as a developer maybe? I think time has come to change the picture of testers in our industry by actually doing something different and helping others do the same. Leading by example instead of arguing Windows vs. Linux.

What ideas about it do you have in mind?

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5 thoughts on ““So, what should I do tomorrow?””

  1. This is how I came to testing, how I handled training myself and what makes me want to become better. I couldn’t have put it to writing any better.

    Thanks for this post.
    Markus

  2. Markus,

    Excellent post and thanks for the mention. It does feel like there should be a better way of fostering and nurturing people in to the testing community and I know first hand of testers who are being driven away from the industry for a variety of reasons. This is not good. We do need to help others understand testing and help to ensure our craft grows…in the right direction.

    I too am looking forward to Matt’s new book and there are some other cool projects on the go as well which sound interesting.

    Nice post.

    Rob..

  3. Markus,
    Great post. This is also a yearlong frustration of mine. A lot of people – young graduates – who start in testing never see testing as a valid career. They are hired, given a short training in testing basics and thrown in the trenches, where the first impressions they get from testing aren’t very flattering: they are often degraded to executing scripts that others laid out for them. Some of them find that a comfortable way of working and stick to that, but for most it is counter-intuitive and demotivating. These are the people that soon go elsewhere to prove their luck – they become developers, product managers or horse whisperers.

    The problem is that most (junior) testers aren’t given the chance to discover all that makes testing so challenging and unique. Their environment does not encourage them to go out and explore, let alone learn and grow. Of course they end up discouraged, and the only way of personal growth they see is in getting a certificate of some kind. So I do understand the testers that proudly state they’re certified. We shouldn’t dismiss or ignore them, but try to persuade them that there’s more to testing than meets the certified eye.

    This is the moment for the people who are passionate about their jobs to speak up, evangelise and change the testing world. Mmmm… a pretty daunting task. A dirty job as well, but someone has to do it. Let’s unite :-)
    –Zeger

    1. There are multiple dimensions I think about here. On one hand I’m really sorry for the graduates who try to make meaning of the testing profession. I really want to make a difference and help them out understand the underlying problems better. Showing new testers what we do, how we tackle difficulties with developers and what our activites are all around is crucial from my point of view.

      On the other hand the ongoing discussions about certifications, testing vs. checking, automation vs. manual testing, exploring vs. scripting comes to mind. As you all stated, we shut the door for new testers with fresh ideas from the univeristies and colleges. So, we’re doomed to become extinct in some generations. I really don’t hope we’re becoming extinct, so in order to prevent just this, we need to make a difference, lead by example, show by actually testing and bringing the profession a large step forward.

      Everything the disagreement about the “best practice” in testing methodology has thuis far lead to, is a paralysis of testers and a clear movement away from the testing profession. So, let’s start to make a difference. Let’s kick the revolution off, while we can do something. If we continue to go on like this, we’ll painted ourselves into the corner in a few more years.

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