Friday, August 24, 2012

Tales From the Testing Trenches

Tales From The Trenches is a webcomic and bitch forum about software testing. It's moderately amusing but reminds me of way back when I programmed. Here's the true story I submitted:

Back when there was a shortage of programmers, I chose for my next contracting assignment a firm that advertised its rigorous, highly professional methodology that enabled rapid development with high reliability due to its great system. I really wanted to learn a better way of doing things, and was willing to learn from anybody.

First day there: no hint about a methodology. Indeed, my workstation didn't have the tools to build the software I was ostensibly working on.

Next day: same. I asked about the methodology and tools, and was assured it would all come through after a small team reorganization.

Months later: still no methodology. All we had was a list of features to implement, given to us by a couple of analysts who handle all interactions with the clients. The  "testing methodology" consisted of a short Word document with a table of 10 things that an analyst wanted tested, in no particular order.

I figured, what the heck, we had to start testing so I suggested to the team lead that we needed a more detailed test plan. He said, ok, write it. I thought WTF? but ok, this was a chance to grow and learn.

First thing, since a table in a word document wasn't going to be an efficient way to list dozens or hundreds of things to do, I moved the table of things to test to a real spreadsheet and systematically added stuff to test, columns for conditions precedent and all that good stuff.
I guess that offended the kid who'd written the document because she complained to the lead and he told me I was wasting my time.

I figured when we were assigned a few testers I'd let them decide, but as it turned out, it really was wasted time because they never got around to assigning testerS - just one guy who really resented having to sit down and go through functions.

They burned through the budget building the thing without anything left over for serious testing (which suggests something about the Methodology) but I guess the unit testing was enough to persuade the client to accept delivery. Hey, maybe THAT's the Methodology!

At the Delivery Day Dinner, the client (who I'd never met) reacted to meeting me with, "Oh, you're the guy who's responsible for this being late!" which I took as a clue. Needless to say, this barely tested product seems to have vanished from sight.

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