All I Ever Need to Know about Testing I Learned in Kindergarten

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took memos that my staff had prepared and put a sticky note on them that read, "My staff member wrote this . . . I think it's good work . . . I hope you concur."

Another thing people take that isn't theirs is guilt. You will not find every defect. Try hard, use your skills, do a good job; but remember, some will sneak by you and that's OK. As Boris Beizer says, "We need devious testers." But sometimes, as devious as we are, our developers and users exceed our capacity.

Say you're sorry when you hurt someone
No matter how careful we are, at some place and time, we will hurt someone. Most of us will never intentionally hurt anyone physically, but we will hurt him emotionally. We'll say something or do something--perhaps intentional, perhaps in ignorance, or perhaps in jest--that will reach into his chest and rip out his heart.

As testers, we're in the error-discovery business. Our job is to find other people's mistakes. When we find them, we report them publicly. We know to always focus our reports on the errors, not the person who made the errors. But still, sometimes egos are bruised; sometimes feelings are hurt.

Say "I'm sorry." It is one of the most powerful, healing phrases in the human language.

Wash your hands before you eat
In other words--start clean. Once the system fails, it may not be in a stable state to look for more defects. Reboot or reload often.

Flush
This is always good advice. And, as a professional user of airport toilets, I am amazed at the number of men who don't know to do this. Of course, a real tester would flush all the toilets at once, just to see what happens. Could you do that with your software too?

Also, always remember to flush the cache when doing performance testing.

Sometimes features need to be flushed from the product before shipment because they are so problematic. Sometimes entire projects need to be flushed. Perhaps you can help--maybe you can even pull the handle.

Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you
Yes, they are. Enough said. (Oh, it's better if your employer furnishes them. And chocolate chip cookies are the best.)

Live a balanced life
There are things in life in addition to testing--friends, family, travel, sex, food, rest, sex, health, fitness, art, recreation, good deeds, sex, spirituality, learning, play, and, of course, introspection.

It is difficult, especially in the early years of our careers, to put work aside and focus our attention on other things.

But, as the great philosopher Ferris Bueller once said, "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."

From a testing viewpoint, create diversified test teams and develop diversified test strategies.

Learn some, think some, draw some, paint, sing, dance, play, and work every day
This one is more difficult to apply. How about "Learn some, think some, model some, explore some, document some, communicate, and test every day"?

Take a nap every afternoon
If you work in an office with cubicles, taking a nap in plain sight is probably not a good way to win friends and influence people. However, we all need quiet time to be with ourselves--time to think, time to reflect, time to rest, time to regenerate. Try to establish your own quiet time--a time when you don't read email, answer the phone, attend meetings, or allow interruptions.

Taking a step away from your project will give you fresh insight and a different outlook. When

About the author

Lee Copeland's picture Lee Copeland

Lee Copeland has more than thirty years of experience in the field of software development and testing. He has worked as a programmer, development director, process improvement leader, and consultant. Based on his experience, Lee has developed and taught a number of training courses focusing on software testing and development issues. Lee is the managing technical editor for Better Software magazine, a regular columnist for StickyMinds.com, and the author of A Practitioner's Guide to Software Test Design. Contact Lee at lcopeland@sqe.com.

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