just a few questions… Rikard Edgren

I stopped myself in the hallway just to ask a few quick questions:

Why do you like software testing?
– That’s not a short question! But it involves a lot of creativity, subjectivity, serendipity, critical and holistic thinking.

What’s your motivation for writing on a blog?
– I don’t know, I just can’t stop myself.

How come?
– Not sure, I think I came to a place where writing was the best way to learn things; and learning things is an absolute must.

What’s your favorite quote, right now?
– You can see a lot by just looking (Yogi Berra)

Any new paradoxes?
– No, just an old one: With check lists you do testing, with test scripts you do checking.

Who is the best tester?
– Can’t tell, and if I could, I wouldn’t. Testing is part of a team effort to develop software; it’s not a competition.

Which one of Kaner’s 101 coverages do you prefer?
– A broad version of #89: Potential Usage Coverage.

What bug would you like to find?
– A very important one that happens after very normal actions, but in a long, credible scenario. It should be on a non-released system, so it can be fixed before causing real problems.

What’s the recipe for Good Software Testing?
– 1 part preparations, 2 parts knowledge, 3 parts wide-open, trained senses, 4 parts hard work, and a big pinch each of creativity and subjectivity.

How many testers actually spend more than 5% of their time testing non-functionals?
– I think many have quality characteristics in the back of their head all the time; so for me it is 100% of the testing time.

Can you say something positive about ISTQB Certification?
– In the Advanced Syllabus there is an appendix with a lot of good recommendations regarding pitfalls in software testing.

What’s the most difficult virtue for a tester?
– Humility.

Can you think of any strange bugs?
– A crash bug when cancelling a dialog, but only if the dialog had been manually moved.

Nothing better than that?
– A crash when a value range dealt with 9.8922, 9.975, 10?

What’s your favorite accelerator?
– Windows+Break. Everybody doesn’t seem to know that this is the fastest way to bring up the System details.

If software testing is a social science, which qualitative methodology can we learn most from?
– Parts of Grounded Theory is a perfect fit.

What’s your favorite string to use when testing?
– “This is a tribute to the longest string in the world.”

What is the danger of solving problems?
– It wasn’t the important thing, and now you have stopped looking.

Do you have a lesson for software testing?
– No, but the last one in the book Lessons Learned in Software Testing is excellent, the one on Test Strategy Heuristics.

Do you want to be Deming or Fleming?
– Ah, you’re thinking serendipity-wise. Fleming and the penicillin, of course.

Do you have an alternative to SMART goals?
– I want my goals to be Vague, Ongoing, Motivating, Important and Trustworthy.

Where would you like to have an extra pair of eyes?
– I just have to steal this answer: I would give them to a blind.

How long does it take to become a really good tester?
– Don’t know. I might be there, and if so it happened gradually over many years. But it takes about one year to master sourdough baking, so it could be something similar for testing, if you have the basic skills, knowledge and motivation that are needed (don’t ask me about that!)

What’s your biggest weakness?
– Could be that I am easy to misunderstand. I often try to be serious and humuorous, at the same time; which can be very difficult to evaluate.

What development process are you using at your current assignment?
– Same as everybody else, a mix of Waterfall and Agile.

What do you have against Agile?
– Nothing really. It’s just so over-used, and doesn’t seem to mean much more than it’s something good (just like “professional”)

Don’t you agree that testing is a service?
– Can’t say it’s not true (and it’s extra important for testers to be service-minded), but I would talk about long-term team ownership several times before using service vocabulary.

If you were a young, aspiring software tester with a lot of spare time, what would you do?
– I would find an open-source tool I like (maybe a test tool?), and test it thoroughly, learning everything I can about the test approaches while using them.

Are you a certified tester?
– No, but I have a diploma from a basic software testing course.

What’s in your Software Testing Dystopia?
– Extreme specialization, same work all the time, no system overview, and cumbersome software with just some value.

What questions would you not want to be asked?
– What’s the most important aspect of software testing?

Anything else you would like to add?
– I am always on the testers’ side!

Thank you very much! Have a good day, and a nice vacation.

Mikael Jönsson July 1st, 2010

Reading “How long does it take to become a really good tester?” I ask my self “What defines a good tester?”
– Is it someone that is a great exploratory tester?
– Someone that is great at creating and/or executing test scripts (manual or automatic)?
– Someone that is really good at any other aspect of testing?
– Someone that is good at all these things and more?
Or maybe my question really is the same as you are asking in “Who is the best tester”?

Also, I’m curious to hear more about what you mean with humility being a tester’s most difficult virtue.

Rikard Edgren July 1st, 2010

Mikael, I think testers can be good in many ways; and in order to give an answer we can look at the results:
A good tester is someone that contributes to creating a valuable product.
And the ways are as many as there are testers, and maybe we need a combination of testers getting as good as they can on what they are good at, and a diversity in the test team (what about 1-man test teams?)

I believe that ambitious testers and humility is difficult (we use to say that our team is “the best, and most humble, test team in the world”)
I think that the root cause is that testers often are last in the chain of software development. So in order to get your information taken seriously, you need to be persuasive.
And when you talk very seriously about issues that need to be handled, you aren’t very humble anymore.

We also have the fact that testing isn’t well respected everywhere, and since most people want to be respected, the testers need to prove their fabulous value to everyone around.
And when you do that, you aren’t very humble anymore.

But! There is nothing wrong with this…