Why You Need to Do More Than Just Test Requirements: An Interview with Jon Hagar


JV: Were you thinking about testing the whole time when you were flying in that plane?

JH: Well, a little bit, and I don't want to tell stories too much, but the system actually had some bugs in it. So I was like, "Oh, this is kind of interesting." We had some interesting conversations with the flight crew. It was a very nice airplane, but as any new high-tech thing, there's things to be worked out.

Then, you also have the whole medical device industry, and they're mobile in a very different kind of way, and they're very smart too, so a lot of us that are working in this want to say it isn't just the phones that's the big gorilla in the room. There's these other things too that need to be thought about for testing.

JV: What do you want readers to take away from the book? What is your goal with that?

JH: Again, it's that concept that you need to do more than just test the requirements. You need to look at the other qualities, security being one, usability being another.

There's a variety of qualities, and that there's these approaches, these patterns as I call them in the book, that the attack-based testing community that James Whittaker started up has realized, along with the concepts like exploratory testing that we really need creative testers to go out and push into the areas that the developers didn't think about and provide that information back to the stakeholders. The developers can say, "Hey, we can crash it," or "We can get these strange results. Maybe this is something the user is going to be unhappy with." It's that trying to break-it-attack approach that's the main message I'm trying to get people to take away.

JV: Right, and how long have you spent researching for this book?

JH: Well, in some ways, all thirty years.

JV: These are your memoirs.

JH: Yeah. I built up a lot of mental models on embedded systems over that time. A few years back, probably three or four years back, I started some research. There was actually a Star West Best Paper Award that I got in 2010 that was based upon that research of taxonomies of common errors, and as I started thinking about those common errors, I realized, gee, this attack-based approach is good for that.

Somewhere in about 2010, I started incorporating the mobile smart phone into the taxonomy. I'd say probably the last four or five years of research and then probably one-and-a-half years of writing. It's a lot of work to do a book.

JV: Thank you for taking the time.


Jon HagarJon Hagar is a systems software engineer and tester supporting software product integrity, verification, and validation with a specialization in embedded software systems. For more than thirty years Jon has worked in software engineering, particularly testing/verification and validation. Embedded projects he has supported include the space shuttle, large rockets, spacecraft, and ground systems as well as testing new smart phones. Jon has managed and built embedded test labs, including supportive automation development. Jon publishes regularly with more than fifty presentations and papers in software testing, verification, validation, agile, product integrity and assessment, system engineering, and quality assurance. He teaches classes at the professional and college level.


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