Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Hobbit Software Testing

In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.
Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends
of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare,
sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat:
it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort
.*


For long years we have been comfortable in our way of living and working. Events from the distant past that do not involve us or our people are half remembered and are therefore legendary. Things happening far away are far away and don’t concern us at the least. That is their business and we have concerns of our own.. 


They can do what they do and try new-fangled, outlandish approaches. We will stick with the tried and true methods we have seen work. We will do this because this is what we have always done. We are comfortable with it. It has always worked before and will continue to work.


People telling us to do things differently are trying to upset the natural order of things. 


Our bosses tell us what to do. Our training tells us this is how it is to be done. We work hard at it and are paid a reasonable wage. We will not get rich, but we will be comfortable.


These people telling us they don’t need testers are silly people trying to frighten us. Other people telling us we must learn to code are pushing us away from the real work we are doing.


Of course, some of us living here hoped to become developers at one time. We wanted to do that but could not get a job as developers, so we went into testing. We thought we could use this as a way to move into a developer position. But they have really high standards and keep telling us this is a good way to be.


So, some of us try and learn to do automation coding. That looks a lot like code. It kind of is like being a developer but we’re not quite doing that. We’re writing code and we’re running it and it tests code written by developers. Some of us get told what the code we write should do. Others are told to figure it out.


That kind of job is not comfortable. Many of us don’t like that. We don’t want to change.


Others, experts who write books and teach courses and speak at conferences, tell us that is not “testing.” It is something else. They tell us doing real testing is hard. What we do is hard, so it must be real testing.


We often did not understand things they said or words they used. They sometimes upset people and said things that seemed to contradict what we were told to do. That does not really matter. We guess.


For simple people like us, they give a comforting message. We don’t need to do those things to be “testers.” We like being “testers.” We like things being predictable.


Things that are predictable make us feel better. We know what is meant by “test case” and “test plan.” We hear people talk about “test strategy” and we know what that is, but don’t worry about it too much because it does not really mean much to what we do. 


We have one for each project, a strategy that is. But we copy another project’s strategy. We change the name of the project. We make sure to change other things. We change the names of the testers and project manager and the development lead. We make sure those match the project we are working on but really, nothing else much changes.


We do predictable work. We make test plans and cases and run tests manually and we find bugs. We enter the bugs in the bug tracking tool. We make sure that each bug relates to a test case. We make sure each bug has all the information needed so the developer can fix it. 


Of course, the developer might not fix it. Someone might say it is not important enough to fix. Or they might say “works as designed” and close it. That’s OK, we guess. We found the bug and maybe it wasn’t a bug, but it looked like a bug and did not look like what the “expected results” said we should expect.


So we come into work. We sit down at our desks and signon and check email and look at stuff on the web. We might read something the bosses send us or tell us to read. 


Then we got tea. Some might get coffee, but others will drink tea. Because tea is a good drink when working on predictable tasks. We’d like cocoa, but save that for a treat in the afternoon after we have been working hard doing the work we are supposed to do.


We are comfortable.


Nothing ever changes.

The story continues here

*JRR Tolkien, The Hobbit, ©1937 JRR Tolkien, renewed 1982, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing, Boston, 2014, p. 3.

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