Monday, March 20, 2006

The Habit of Software Testing

In a software testing class I was teaching last week, the manager of the department made some opening remarks to his team. In emphasizing the importance of the class, he said that his goal was that people would see testing as a habit.

This got my attention because I have heard testing described as an art, a craft, a process, a discipline, but never as a habit.

I have used the illustration before of testing being like flossing teeth - at least for developers. We all know we need to do it, but for lack of time, lack of floss, messes on the mirror, etc., we (at least "I") many times neglect to floss. Then, the dental hygenist gets onto me about it. I feel guilty for awhile, floss every day, then I start skipping days. Before long I'm out of the habit I never really developed in the first place.

Habits are both good and bad, developed over time by repeated performance. You don't necessarily need a written set of instructions to follow every time you do something, but at first they may help.

Before long, you do something so regularly, it starts to feel natural - like stopping by Starbucks every morning on the way to work, or picking up a morning paper at the newsstand.

What would testing look like if it were a habit? Perhaps we would by second nature take a second or third look at something. Or, we would have a checklist or set of test cases we would perform each time just before we sent something to someone.

As testers, we have the habit. We check and double-check things. We look both ways before crossing one-way streets because...well, we just do it.

My thought is that if we can make testing easier, less intimidating, people may see it as more achievable and do it more often becomes a habit instead of a duty.

I've always said in my presentations that if something is easy to do, it's easy not to do.

I really believe this is true in testing. Sure, there are things about testing that can get complex and hard to wrap our minds around. However, there are many aspects of testing that are more related to habit or discipline than knowledge.

So, regardless of your role in your organization - developer, tester, user, etc., I encourage you to do the little things in testing one step at a time and get into the habit of testing.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006


Hi everyone!

Well, I finally took the plunge and decided to start this blog dedicated to software testing and other software quality-related issues. I still plan to continue to publish The Software Quality Advisor Newsletter online, but this will allow me to create and share information much quicker than I ever can with the newsletter.

I also look forward to interacting with you through the comments to the postings.

Here we go...enjoy the ride,