More thoughts

Over lunch today, we (the vettest team) started discussing the event so far. I asked Brian what types of things we needed to be doing to meet the goal he stated on the first day of this being a “seminal event” and whether he thought we were on track for that. We didn’t get far in that discussion (Brian made observations that the other two seminal events he’s been at started off feeling like a disaster and only jelled towards the end) and he and I both stated we’re not good at drawing conclusions from an event while it’s happening. This did, however, lead to a discussion of whether there were things that might be more useful to us (us as a team, not just Brian and I). Concerns were expressed that the vettest application is not complex enough (or maybe we’re not far enough along) for the developers to be seeing a lot of new testing types of things.

One of the things that occurred to me while we were talking was a bit of a crisis of identity. I’m generally considered a tester (and that’s what I’ve been paid to do) by everyone who knows me professionally except myself. I’ve always had far more confidence in my ability to develop an application than my ability to test it. In thinking about Brian’s comfort zone stuff from last night, I realized that even though I’m learning things about XP, I don’t feel like I’m being pushed at all outside my comfort zone. In some ways, it feels more like being forced to test this application would be more outside my comfort zone than developing it. I know that the last time I was here at Satisfice, the times when I felt James was pushing me the most was when he had me do some exercises he uses in his testing class.

So am I really a programmer who has happened to spend the last 8 years in a tester’s job? Most of my testing experience was in doing automated testing, and I pretty quickly stopped using the recorder except for getting control recognition strings and treated it like development. I used to have little patience (ok, no patience) for doing manual testing, and have been known to avow that I hated it. I also have been known to state emphatically that I was a developer not a tester (referring to developing automation rather than test cases). Part of going back to school was to force myself to learn more about manual testing and get past these feelings. That happened. I still prefer writing code to writing manual tests, but I enjoy the testing part, too, now, and I like the challenge of outthinking the bugs in the code. Part of my mind will always be thinking about automating test execution (and creation, probably), but were I a consultant still, I wouldn’t refuse an assignment because it was intended to be all manual testing.

We tabled the discussion of changing focus so that we could finish the first story. As an update on the vettest team project, we are getting very close to having the web page be created. We have an acceptance testing framework that still has some problems, and the result of the first story is available at