Skip to main content

Was there a test for that? No, and there shouldn't be.


The release shipped. For a while, the team felt good. The work was done, the team had achieved something, and that was rewarding. 

Unfortunately for the team, it wasn't long before a problem was found. The Product Owner wasn't happy and had asked was going on down there in the galley, do we need new coders? Better ones? Hipster coders?
The release shipped...

After an investigation, some blushes, raised eyebrows and a couple of "Oh... Yeeeah's" they found the cause. A confusion had collided with a bodge, and the result was a mess.

Should they write an automated - test for this problem? 

An embarrassing mistake or a misstep can make us feel we have to do something. An action greater than a fix is needed. A penitance needs to be performed, to redeem ourselves, to make us right again.

Sometimes the penitence is best spent adding a test for that issue. Especially if writing that test has a low cost, the frequency of the problem occurring is high or the impact of the problem is substantial.

But often, there is a smarter path. Take for example the opportunity cost. While you add that automated test, What else could your team be doing? For example, you might be able to spend the time fixing that underlying bodge.

As a tester, a highly targeted automated test might give an instant feeling of protection and a helpful dose of CYA. But while you are coding that test - you are not spending as much time:
  • Looking for root causes, in code and process
  • Searching for similar assumptions the team made
  • Thinking laterally about what else might be broken
  • Talking to your team about how to stop this happening again.
Also, the automated test may just turn out to be more expensive to write than the fix. Sometimes, iterating is the right thing to do - not just regarding isolating the right product but also in honing its quality. 

You can learn from failure, it's essential you step back & take a moment to let that happen. Investigating Software can help you do that.

Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Your blog is very interesting. I am regular visiitor to your blog where I read some articles on software testing. I too have blog where Q/A section is provided. For any queries, the software testing professionals will answer it.

    https://softwaretestingboard.com/q2a/login

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

The gamification of Software Testing

A while back, I sat in on a planning meeting. Many planning meetings slide awkwardly into a sort of ad-hoc technical analysis discussion, and this was no exception. With a little prompting, the team started to draw up what they wanted to build on a whiteboard.

The picture spoke its thousand words, and I could feel that the team now understood what needed to be done. The right questions were being asked, and initial development guesstimates were approaching common sense levels.

The discussion came around to testing, skipping over how they might test the feature, the team focused immediately on how long testing would take.

When probed as to how the testing would be performed? How we might find out what the team did wrong? Confused faces stared back at me. During our ensuing chat, I realised that they had been using BDD scenarios [only] as a metric of what testing needs to be done and when they are ready to ship. (Now I knew why I was hired to help)



There is nothing wrong with checking t…

Software development is in the Doldrums

"Don't get off the boat."

"Seriously, never get off the boat," The instructor said, leaning forward and looking at each of us in turn.

"But surely if it's sinking..." We reply, somewhat confused and slightly incredulous. We've seen Titanic, we think to ourselves, we know how this sea survival stuff works...

"OK" He concedes, If things get really bad, "Get on the life raft if you can step-up from the boat to the life raft".

"But, But... the yacht is like 37ft long, Do we want to wait until that whole boat is lower than the life-raft? When less than 1ft of the yacht is above the surface? Meanwhile all the time the life raft is just there... floating happily alongside."

"Pretty much, yes," he said nodding.


That was about 15 years ago. Not much has changed since. The reasons are manifold. Firstly, the yacht is a decent shelter. The thin plastic of a legal minimum life-raft isn't going to protect you fro…

A h̶i̶t̶c̶h̶h̶i̶k̶e̶r̶'s̶ software tester's guide to randomised testing - Part 1

Mostly Harmless, I've talked and written about randomisation as a technique in software testing several times over the last few years. It's great to see people's eyes light up when they grok the concept and its potential. 
The idea that they can create random test data on the fly and pour this into the app step back and see what happens is exciting to people looking to find new blockers on their apps path to reliability.
But it's not long before a cloud appears in their sunny demeanour and they start to conceive of the possible pitfalls. Here are a few tips on how to avert the common apparent blockers. (Part 1) Problem: I've created loads of random numbers as input data, but how will I know the answer the software returns, is correct? - Do I have to re-implement the whole app logic in my test code?
Do you remember going to the fun-fair as a kid? Or maybe you recall taking your kids now as an adult? If so then you no doubt are familiar with the height restriction -…