Tuesday, October 13, 2020

PNSQC 2020 Live Blog: Teaching Testing To Programmers. What Sticks, And What Slides Off? with Rob Sabourin and Mónica Wodzislawski

I had a feeling that as soon as I saw who one of the presenters was for this talk that "OK, this is going to be fun!"

I've worked with Rob over the years when I was part of the Board of Directors of the Association for Software Testing and I remember talking with him about this very topic. There's no question that testers can learn how to program and work as developers. It also stands to reason that developers can learn the skills to become testers. 

Mónica Wodzislawski is new to me but I have learned recently about a vibrant community of software testing centered in Montevideo, Uruguay, and I can only assume Monica is actively engaged in that community.

Corporate initiatives to “shifting left” and the focus on Agile software development, Test-Driven Development, and other areas pay lip service to softeware testing but do not approach testing in the manner that a skilled tester would. That does not at all mean that good developers cannot be good testers. They most certainly can and many are. The idea of actually applying software testing as a discipline within the Computer Science curriculum is a good one. Over the years, I've heard only a few places where testing is even mentioned beyond writing unit tests. The idea of a semester-long course dedicated to software testing (akin to the BBST course of classes) is still a foreign concept in developer's learning journies. 

Some of the challenges that get in the way of testing are the notion that somehow software testing can't be seen as universal (and to be fair, it cannot, there is no one size fits all approach). It seems that there is a hangup on the tool stack. If you don't understand all of the tools then you can't do effective testing. There are going to be unique tool needs and there will be unique challenges related to specific tasks but even with that, there are many testing methodologies that can be leveraged regardless of the software stack being used. 

Often the approach to templating and patterns is heavily emphasized with some developers. Others tend to look at the code and automation as the end result. Automation is a good tool to have and it's important to understand and have them but there is a lot of software testing that doesn't involve automated testing.

Rob and Monical both emphasize looking at risk to help determine areas that might need testing at a preliminary or expanded level. Create models that stand up to the work that you need to do. By developing a model, we encourage developers and testers to focus their attention on the areas that are going to be the most vital to the business. There's plenty more to do but that's a good place to emphasize. 

By setting quality goals and examining case studies, software developers can learn a number of great skills including building conceptual models, examining and applying patterns and anti-patterns, and examining common faults and solutions that can be applied.


Anonymous said...

rick model? Some proofreading would help here.

Michael Larsen said...

It's a live blog. There is no proofreading until after I go back to review these. Most people know that about these posts, you lose some accuracy for the immediacy but thank you, I have fixed it :).