Skip to main content


Showing posts from 2016

Being a square keeps you from going around in circles.

After a weary few hours sorting through, re-running and manually double checking the "automated test" results, the team decide they need to "run the tests again!", that's a problem to the team. Why? because they are too slow. The 'test' runs take too long and they won't have the results until tomorrow.
How does our team intend to fix the problem? ... make the tests run faster. Maybe use a new framework, get better hardware or some other cool trick. The team get busy, update the test tools and soon find them selves in a similar position. Now of course they need to rewrite them in language X or using a new [A-Z]+DD methodology. I can't believe you are still using technology Z , Luddites!
Updating your tooling, and using a methodology appropriate to your context makes sense and should be factored into your workflow and estimates. But the above approach to solving the problem, starts with the wrong problem. As such, its not likely to find the right ans…

A Good Run!

“We got a good run from the tests” the tester stated. “So what’s the story?” the scrum master asked. “85% Pass” comes the reply, meekly. “OK, just need to fix that 5% then.” The scrum master announces before striding off to announce that the team is only a couple of % away from success.
Our tester takes a moment to try and process the exchange…

Firstly, their own words: “We got a good run” Why had they said that? Well - in a sense - it was true. They had executed the tests before, and they had returned a much higher failure rate. But the code being checked was the same...
OK, so there were at least 3 obvious ways to interpret the data. The app code meets the criteria checked by the tests. ( Based on test run 2 ) The app code does not meet the criteria checked by the tests. ( Based on test run 1 ) The tests are as reliable a the toss of the coin. ( Based on both test runs )
Its surprising how unlikely people are to choose (3).

Secondly, the scrum master’s words: “just need to fix that 5%” Our …

Programmers & Testers, two roles divided by a common skill-set.

When we switch people from programming to testing and vice versa may reduce the quality of our software.

I’ll get some quick objections out of the way: But, A person can be a great tester and programmer.  - Yes I agree. But, Programmers do a lot of good testing. - Yes I agree. None of the above are in conflict with my conjecture.
Programming or writing software automates things that would be expensive or hard to do otherwise. Our software might also be faster or less error prone at doing whatever it replaces. It may achieve or enable something that couldn't be done before the software was employed.
Writing software involves overcoming and working around constraints to achieve improvement. That is, looking for ways to bypass limitations imposed by external factors or limitations in the tools we use. For example, coping with a high latency internet connection, legacy code or poor quality inputs. A programmer might say they were taking advantage of the technologies’ features to create a …


A common but often unnoticed figure of speech is the synecdoche. When I say “Beijing opened its borders”. We know I mean “The People's Republic of China has opened its borders.”) That’s a Synecdoche, in this case I named part of something (Beijing) to mean the whole (P.R.C.).
Conversely, I might say “Westminster is in turmoil” when anyone with knowledge of British politics will know I mean, “The politicians in the Houses of Parliament are in turmoil”. The reader will know I am not referring to The City of Westminster, a region of London. (Or the place in Canada etc.)
Synecdoche can be a useful and illustrating tool of conversation. Helping to convey the size or importance of the subject or illustrate in more detail a subtlety of the situation. For example: “Beijing opened its Borders” also indicates the power of that country's central government. Some residents of one city in China, can open [or close] the borders of a vast country spanning thousands of miles and comprising over…