Monday, December 19, 2011

Maintenance Mode

As I was standing with our design director and talking about some of the new features planned in the coming weeks and months, I was excited about the prospects, I was intrigued at what that would mean for me in my testing, but at the same time, I had a sinking feeling... I realized that "Oh no, I have a whole bunch of tests that are going to effectively be broken with these changes".

This is a typical situation. I can count on the fact that I will be doing some tweaks and changes on the sites that I work with, and that my scripts are not going to be evergreen. At the same time, it can be frustrating to have to gut whole sections and retool scripts. These are times when I must admit, I've been tempted to just throw up my hands and say "Gaah, what's the point?!"

Here's where I want to ask the other Lone Testers out there... how do you deal with "Maintenance Mode"? I understand when you are working as a tester and you have the advantage of an automator or an automation team, but what do you do when *you* are the automator, and the exploratory tester, and the regression tester, and the fill in the blank tester? I don't have the opportunity to hand off the maintenance work, and when I do the maintenance work, I'm not testing.

I will say that I do find a lot of the rework options and the ability to create "macros" in the selector.rb file to be very helpful in the maintenance steps. I like this option because I can focus on just making the language of the steps be business rules and say "look for the following", while having all of the individual steps grouped together. the biggest problem with that approach, though, is that I often have to "unfactor my refactoring" and plug in the original group of steps to see what's no longer working.  Don't get me wrong, each time I do this, I learn a little bit more, and I learn which refactored steps are actually effective and durable, and which ones I need to reconsider and, well, refactor the refactoring.

I am serious, though, for those who often find they have to make large scale changes to their scripts, how do you effectively balance your work load and focus so that you can do both, or do you just let everyone know "I can do X, or I can do Y, but if you think I can do X and Y at the same time, you're nuts!" Right now, I'm doing the latter. I'm open to suggestions, seriously :).

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