I know how it feels to be the loneliest…..

…..welcome back outcasts

Why do we attend conferences? Read blogs? Watch webinars?

How do we engage?

I asked this question to my testing colleagues at work…

Here are the results…

Topics –

  • why you enjoy working
  • explaining how things work
  • topics that aren’t directly test related (e.g. mental health)
  • speakers from companies you’ve heard of (and love their products)
  • lessons learned from experiences
  • good news stories
  • psychology of testers/testing
  • multi-track options (sometimes)
  • relatability
  • automation experiences

Diverse speakers/writers, length of talks/blogs, topics, levels of production etc.

Interactive workshops (such as, the Lego Automation workshop by Richard Bradshaw as mentioned in I’m not afraid, they can read all about it…..)


Being a part of a community, belonging

Networking (drinks) – meeting other testers, sharing stories


Meeting with and interacting with people you’ve followed online, read their blogs

Good venue that’s easily accessible

Great catering

New ideas –

Swag (more notes on this than any other!!)



People selling themselves, or their products (perception of consultant culture)

Cliques, or the appearance thereof

Narrow or overly opinionated viewpoint, portrayal

Intimidating environment (huge expo, easy to feel lost, lonely)

Blank/empty slides –/– too many words on slides

Appearance of ‘script-reading’, unrehearsed

Prohibitive price

Lack of diversity, both in topic and in speaker (we don’t use Selenium or test web API)

This is obviously a small sub-set and we have seen a lot of benefits to attending conferences.

Ministry of Testing are doing a great job making TestBash more inclusive, they have quiet spaces, open space on their final day and next year in Brighton, they’re even going to have a child care option.

Many conferences have meetups outside of the conferences, early morning runs, swims, lean coffees etc.

At EuroSTAR 2018, in the Hague, I will once again be volunteering in the community huddle, as part of the expo.

We aim to be a welcoming place in a very busy and vast space. My aim in this conference is to try and tick off as many of the ‘Hot’ items and to address some of the ‘Not’ items as part of the Huddle team.

We will be hosting games, quiet spaces, stickers….awkward looking people with a hook-a-duck game

Soapbox talks…

And couch sessions with some of the conference speakers

We aim to make delegates at the conference welcome, to help them to engage and get the most out of their conference experience.

If you’re coming along this year, come along and say hi.

If you’re going to any conference, before you go, try and make a checklist of things you really want to learn, hear, talk about, people you want to see etc.

Take notes, see what you can take back to your workplace.

Know your limits, make space for yourself, don’t burn out. If none of the talks in one session appeal, don’t feel obliged to go to one, we all need time to process things and conferences can be really intense.

If you’re a more experienced conference goer, keep a look out for new guys, it’s not always easy to step out and start a conversation, especially in what can seem like an alien or intimidating environment.

Most importantly, have fun, engage and don’t leave with regrets.

Blog post title lyrics from: Welcome to the new south  – by Less than Jake.

Find all the songs from my blog posts at this Spotify playlist.

I believe the children are our future…..

…..teach them well and let them lead the way.

I have recently had a couple of conversations with colleagues who know people who would like to get into testing.


But how does that happen? It’s not like you can make someone ‘fall into testing’, as so many of us profess to have done.

Should I point them straight to the ISTQB Foundation certification? It is after all, a prerequisite of so many job adverts.

Do we reference wikipedia for some nuggets of information on the topic?

As I was seeking to find the best explanation, I was reminded of the good work on this topic that Simon Prior has done with his #makeatester campaign.

I would strongly recommend looking through his blogs on the subject, maybe starting here.

Ministry of Testing have an awesome article by Heather Reid called ’30 Things Every New Software Tester Should Learn’, that is an amazing first port of call.


With that in mind, I ran a test team meeting with my fellow testers, earlier this year, looking at our own thoughts.

The questions and answers are as follows:

So, why are you a tester?

  • I find faults in products easily
  • I do things differently than most (in an ‘ugly’ way)
  • I am drawn to edge cases
  • I am pedantic
  • I like people
  • I love the constant variety
  • I can make a difference
  • I fell into it

And what attributes/characteristics help to make a good tester?

  • Spatial awareness
  • Self confidence
  • Thinking outside the box
  • Good communication
  • Luck
  • Pragmatism
  • Critical thinking
  • Curiosity
  • Perfectionism
  • Strong eye for detail
  • Creativity
  • Quick to learn
  • Flexibility
  • Not being a sheep
  • Able to confidently speak your mind
  • Being able to look at the bigger picture
  • Being able to break stuff

What do you think would be a good background for a career in testing?

  • ANY
  • Creativity – the arts
  • People skill based
  • Diplomacy – politics?
  • Technical
  • Games
  • Stats
  • Diversity is key!

And what motivates you, as a tester?

  • Continuous improvement (both self and the workplace/product)
  • Always learning
  • Variety
  • Teaching/coaching
  • Making a difference
  • Money

What do we think is our purpose in our workplace?

  • Quality advocates
  • To raise awareness and improve the testing skills of our colleagues
  • To be inter-departmental conduits
  • To make the user’s experience better
  • To inform
  • To help others see the whole/bigger picture.

I think it’s fair to say that there is a decent spread of answers there, we are a relatively small team of testers, but we have a strong voice. While we are all testers, we have different skills, backgrounds, characteristics, motivations and perceived places in our workplace, but we are united.

The goal that we have when we recruit new testers is not to recruit a perfect candidate, someone that can tick all the boxes and the last thing we want is someone who is identical to us. The beauty of testing is in its rich variety and diversity.


For me personally, I find standing out, seeking niche or untapped areas, so very appealing. It is for that reason that I have sometimes struggled in group settings where I have perceived that another in the group has the same mindset or mannerisms to myself.

I love meeting new testers, we bring so many different ideas to the table, if you are even only slightly intrigued by the prospect of testing, I would heartily encourage you to visit any resources from Ministry of Testing or the Test Huddle, better yet – get in touch with any testers you know, talk to them about their experiences. If you don’t know any, I know that Simon is always keen to #makeatester and you can get touch with me too.

Blog post title lyrics from: Greatest love of all – by Whitney Houston.

Find all the songs from my blog posts at this Spotify playlist.

Are you ready, are you with me?

Team, team, team, team, team, yeah

I finally managed to get a High School Musical song into a title lyric.

So how are your team meetings? I felt that our test team meetings had gone a little stale, that they’d fallen into a little bit of going-through-the-motions and often involved me in front of a whiteboard, brainstorming.

As with any meeting that falls into that sort of pattern, there’s a legitimate reason to question their purpose and whether or not you should attend at all.

But, I cannot emphasise how valuable relationships are across the testers embedded in different teams.


So, how did I tackle it? And how did I keep it tester themed?

I went back to my youth leader roots went from there.

We each had a pen and paper, we would write tester nightmare stories and then tester dream scenarios.

We would structure them in five sections:

  • Intro – set the scene
  • Event 1
  • Event 2
  • Event 3
  • Conclusion

Below are the transcripts, they get better with time as I believe everyone started to loosed up a little.

Nightmare scenarios.

It was the time we all dread, the blood chilling words had been uttered “the Linux port is ready for testing!”

One day, a new feature was requested and started without any plan or discussion.

Then, we realised that all of the requirements are wrong.

Then, I had five minutes to prepare a presentation for the senior management team to justify retaining testing in R&D.

In conclusion, the town of Scunthorpe was forced to rename.


At a company responsible for a drinks website.

There was a terrible crash when the tester caffeine levels dropped.

Then, they decided to support macOS….and Linux, Android, iOS and all at the same time.

All of the bugs were ignored and everything had gone wrong….PANIC!

At the end of the day, job swapping was worse than wife swap – and I blocked the corporate access to AWS.


I once worked for an incredibly large/popular electronic food company.

Build server breaks.

Then, a voice over the tannoy started screaming – “where have all the testers gone? No one is going home until this release is tested.”

Then, the devs went home without pushing the fix, leaving the testers without work in the morning.

And, as a result the tester was asked to leave and never return.


I tested a really rubbish game, based on Greek mythology.

A developer disabled the login screen and released to production.

Then, a power surge combined with a flood caused electric water to get everywhere! There were also sharks in the water, this made testing difficult.

Then, the testers were asked to automate all the things, with no more manual testing.

It does NOT work on your machine BRUV!


End of sprint, stress levels are real. 4PM on Friday.

We discovered that they coded in Brainfuck.

Then, ignored all the failing automated tests when merging onto the main branch.

And then a priest performed an exorcism to try and get all the bugs out of the system. But, was unsuccessful as his powers were useless against an OSX build.

And so it was finally concluded that testers were redundant and should all be fired, which unfortunately resulted in the nuclear bombs being released globally and causing the end of the world. Fortunately for the testers, they saw this coming as no one would listen and they had left to their special moon base with a lifetime supply of hummus and carrot sticks.

Dream scenarios.

When they said “we need to make sure these biscuits are delicious enough!” – I knew I was the man for the job!

The coffee machine was my favourite blend, I’d had a good night’s sleep and I walked into work to find a new build sitting ready for testing, with no unit test failures.

Then, it came to me – I could delegate JIRA admin to Steve.

And then, all of the automated tests were maintained, running and passing. It was a beautiful Tuesday morning.

And, so it was concluded that the testers should all be rewarded with their own holiday moon bases with lifetime supplies of hummus and carrot sticks.


Working at the Haribo centre for new jellies, I was testing a new cherry press.

My thoughts were like gold dust (not the WWE wresler), and the intuitive testbot I had implanted in my brain did lots of testing. Not all the testing, because you can NEVER do all the testing, but I was satisfied enough to treat myself to a trip to Costa for a legendary gingerbread latte.

Then, we decided that things can be changed without any major risks. Everyone agreed on the same solution!

Then, the testers were actually acknowledged and appreciated for their work and these amazing revelations.

And so, the testers walked into the sunset

*fade to black*



I was the greatest and most respected tester in the world!

When I submitted the entry, the build was uploaded at the first attempt.

*Fireworks go off!*

Then, there was a realisation that quality was actually important and time should be given to test and fix issues found.

Then, a solution for writing bug free code was found.

In conclusion, the product was successful and they became millionaires, Rodney.



I once worked at a very popular electronic food factory that allowed staff to eat as much electronic food as they liked.

And so, all the Ninja Turtles chipping in with testing the weapons.


Then, the developer talked me through all the changes and highlighted risk areas.

Then, the memes were flying left, right and centre as management went full UX, we celebrated with karaoke and Fanta.

Sometimes there’s just no need to worry, in the end everyone is happy. Testing is exciting!


My team was great, sprints completed, merge also, there were snacks on the desk. Life was calm.

One day, I was put into a test team with the most awesome people.


Then, the Death Star was ready for testing! “Have we considered the exhaust port?” said the tester.

Then, “I’ll fix that bug for you now, and here, have some pittas and hummus” the developer said.

The head trauma left us all conveniently fluent in all 22 supported languages, this meant we tested and raised bugs. Then, had a JIRA themed party, with a mariachi band.


Blog post title lyrics from: Get’cha head in the game – by Troy (Zac Efron) – High School Musical Cast.

Find all the songs from my blog posts at this Spotify playlist.

You’ve got a friend in me….

…..You got troubles, I’ve got ’em too

Sorry might be the hardest word, but sharing, proper accountable sharing, is one of the hardest things.

I have a confession to make.


I have done things (or not done things) in my life, that wouldn’t have been that way if I’d been held to account on.

Whether that’s sitting play on Football Manager Mobile while I’m supposed to be loading the dishwasher, or when I helped myself to a free Magnum or two when, as a sixteen year old, I was stuck on an ice cream stall on a rainy day.

There is something innate in our behaviour, when others are keeping tabs on us. (Here’s a good test to see if my wife is reading this, today).

I am now in my mid-thirties and my legs are no longer hollow, my dad-bod will confess to that. So, I recently joined some colleagues and family in using My Fitness Pal to enter food and drink intake, and to monitor nutrition and activity.

Now, I like computer games, so a points based system is something that will motivate me.

But, I also know that computer games have cheat codes and ways around things.


What keeps me accountable is not only that I will input my food and drink into a diary – it is that the diary is visible to my wife and colleagues. My wife knows what I eat at home and my colleagues know what I eat at the office.

So, unless I want to snack in the airing cupboard (hello, six-year-old me), I know that I can rely on someone keeping an eye on my intake, which in turn should benefit me in losing some lbs.


Accountability only works if there is true sharing, give and take; in classic DVCS form, these things only work if we pull and push.

At university, I attended the Christian Union, within that group we were encouraged to find ourselves peers with whom we could humbly, openly and without prejudice, share our weaknesses, listen and hold each other to account.

Without translating any faith system into any way of working, the model can be invaluable in workplace environments.

  • do you ever consistently avoid certain tasks?
  • do you have a vice, a website, an app that distracts you from being productive at work?
  • is there a person you avoid, damaging your ability to do your job effectively?

Those are just a few things that, while I might instinctively dislike the probing. I would welcome from a trusted confidant, to help me be a better version of me at work.

So how can this be done? Are there rules?

I think the most important thing here is relationship, whoever you are accountable with, needs to be someone you trust, otherwise you won’t share with them. They also need to be on board with the concept and be willing to challenge you.

Regular catch-ups, be that phone calls, coffee/tea breaks, a time available to share – just make sure you’re in an environment where you’re comfortable to share, consider who else is around.

Agree what it is that you want to achieve, what you are talking about, you could even create a charter.

I don’t think it needs to be a colleague, or someone in situ with you. But, someone from the same domain would likely be advantageous.

Importantly, you need to know that you can say when things go beyond outside those boundaries, without judgement. The last thing you want is to start making your accountability buddy uncomfortable.

I definitely think that I could do with more accountability in my work life. I don’t mean someone watching my every move, but to have a confidant keeping me accountable would be welcome in my life and I think it would make me a better tester.

Blog post title lyrics from: You’ve got a friend in me – by Randy Newman.

Find all the songs from my blog posts at this Spotify playlist.

What’s love got to do, got to do with it…..

…..What’s love but a second hand emotion.

Happy Valentine’s day to you!

As I watched an episode of 12 Monkeys last night, I was struck by a piece of advice thrown into scene setting part of the episode, received by one of the main protagonists, by their father.

“It’s the heart, not the mind that sustains us.” – Mr. Werner

12 Monkeys S. 1 Ep. 12 ‘Paradox’

The heart and love, in this context are inextricably linked, but while romantic love takes the headlines today, it is passion and a love for what we do and with whom we share that love that sustains us.

I  recently, along with a collection of my colleagues, had the experience of fronting a recruitment video for my employers.

One of the big themes of the video is what it is like to work in this environment, with these people. There wasn’t a script and there is genuine enthusiasm on display for the workplace.

Speaking to some of my friends, it saddens me to hear that so many aren’t enjoying their jobs. In fact, many dread Mondays…I think it’s even the theme of a well known recruitment agency.


I’m not entirely convinced that the former Mr J-Lo is the true source of this quote, but he has a nice smile, so we’ll go with it.

“When something you love becomes work, it fundamentally—and unavoidably—changes the way in which you interact with it.”

Chrissy Scivicque conjectures that this belief is a fallacy in her piece in Forbes, but surely there has to be some sort of happy medium?

As I write this today, I am a software tester, I started testing software in 2004 and it is still what I do and it is a part of my identity. The origins of my testing career has often been described a ‘falling into’ testing, but I think that discredits the craft, in agreement with Katrina Clokie‘s tweet.

The longer I have been a tester, the greater the enthusiasm I have for it. This is true because testing is so diverse and I always have the opportunity to learn more.

I’ve attended job fairs and acted as a STEM ambassador in the Engineering Education Scheme (EES), always advocating the craft of testing as a career path to pursue.


I was a host at the EuroSTAR Community Huddle, a role I will reprise at UKSTAR this coming March. The Huddle is a space for a confluence of testers, games, conversations, inspiration and support. It highlights how great the community of testers is, where we can celebrate testing in all shapes and sizes, it is a people profession and the people are awesome.


Blog post title lyrics from: What’s love got do with it – by Tina Turner.

Find all the songs from my blog posts at this Spotify playlist.

The inability to produce a thought…..

…..Ideas get stale, brain cells rot.

I’m normally a man of many words.

Throughout my life, I’ve had an ability to brain dump with relative ease, even if the end result needs a little tweaking. Anyone who has read my blog posts may be able to attest to that.

I haven’t written a blog post in a while though, even though I’ve started maybe three and have them in my drafts, lost and awaiting inspiration.

With this post, I’m hoping to break that block….we’ll see how that goes.


I have found while writing test plans, or test cases, procedures or documentation; a break can refresh, change perspective, distract and inspire.

Simple things like taking a walk, making a cup of tea, or quickly browsing for the latest cat memes. Amazing what you can think of while doing something else.

I attended EuroSTAR in Gothenburg, in November 2013 and aside from finding the amusingly named chocolate brand Plopp, the highlight for me was the talk by Zeger van Hese (@testsidestory) on the subject ‘Testing in the age of distraction’. The YouTube video of this talk can be found here.

This is a great talk and I encourage you to take the time to listen to it all.

I will be spending next week at EuroSTAR in Copenhagen, as part of the Community Huddle team.

I am excited to meet a huge variety of testers from all over the world, engaging with and inspiring each other.

Conferences have a canny knack for reinvigorating and inspiring, I will meet this week with great expectations and anticipation.

If, you’ll be at the conference, please come and say hi, get engaged, plugged in and get the most out of your conference experience.

Blog post title lyrics from: Writer’s block – by Fatlip.

Find all the songs from my blog posts at this Spotify playlist.

Under pressure that brings a building down…..

…..Splits a family in two.

What springs to mind when you hear the term gatekeeper?

The role of a tester can often become synonymous with that of a gatekeeper?

Is that symptomatic of buck-passing?

Whose responsibility is the quality of your product?

Who cares?


My first role as a tester was officially a Quality Assurance Technician, in a waterfall environment, sat in a different building to the development team. Direct communication via anything other than the bug tracker was forbidden and progress was slow. The bug feedback loop was slow, by the time they had filtered back to the dev team, they had moved on from that feature.

Whose responsibility was the quality of the code?

What was their definition of done?

Did I know? Heck no!


As time passed, I gained a greater level of understanding, the process was convoluted and very political.


Without visibility or an understanding of the process, it was very easy for a tester to become very demotivated.

If my inferred identity as a tester was to raise bugs, to be as nitpicky as is humanly possible, to assure quality, then what was my purpose if I entered bugs, then received either no feedback or had my bug closed as ‘won’t fix‘?

It is very easy to feel, as a tester, in that scenario, that you are the last bastion of quality, he (or she) who is there to maintain the quality of the software that is being released.

In that scenario, how would you approach your role as gatekeeper? Would you ever be satisfied? I’ve always stood by the fact that no software is bug free. I’ve even seen situations where a developer has handed a new feature to a tester, with the promise of cake if any bugs are found……guess what happened there?

I digress….

In Agile, we have self-organised teams, primarily of testers and developers, who have an agreed (and not static) definition of done. By those agreed criteria, we should have a ‘potentially shippable product’ by the end of each sprint. However, the third amigo, is the Product Owner.

I have often mentioned that the role of a tester is as an advocate for end-users, but within a development role, we can still have a bias, or even be blind to a product that we are so close to.

The product owner is responsible for communicating the vision of the product and product road map to the Scrum team. She is responsible for defining the order of the work items through the product backlog for a release and for deciding when the product has to be shipped. That means the product owner is responsible for defining and managing the releases. The initial release planning is done in the beginning of the project and readjusted at the end of each sprint, based on each sprint’s outcome. Hence the product owner should work with the team to estimate the number of product backlog items and determine the number of sprints needed to complete them for the release. If the date is missed, the opportunity is gone, and launching the product no longer makes sense.

Ref: https://www.scrumalliance.org/community/articles/2015/january/the-10-things-i-know-about-product-owner

Someone has to make the go/no-go call on a release. That role is the Product Owner.

I haven’t always had pride in the released software that I have worked on. But, there has to be a well-rounded call made to release a product. It isn’t something that we always get right, but knowing where the decision needs to be made means that we aren’t stuck in a perpetual loop over unreleased software development.

It can be an impossible task at times, it isn’t possible to please everyone. But, decisiveness informs and enables direction. They may not be popular, but I for one, am glad we have Product Owners.


Blog post title lyrics from: Under pressure – by Queen and David Bowie.

Find all the songs from my blog posts at this Spotify playlist.



I had a picture of you in my mind…..

…..Never knew it could be so wrong.

Part 5 of my series on Michael Bolton‘s (F)EW HICCUPPS mnemonic.

Image. We expect the system to be consistent with an image that the organisation wants to project, with its brand, or with its reputation.

What’s in a brand? What are the common threads that big brands have? How are they important?


I use Microsoft Office 2016 – while it’s not Lotus Suite, it does a job – a feature of which, allows you to choose a background and a theme. If you change the theme in Word, the change will be reflected in Excel, Outlook and friends. This is a subtle way to reinforce a commonality between the various Office tools.

In 2007, Peter, 9, from Cambridge, asked Matt Groening (via CBBC of all places – what a fine reference for you all) why The Simpsons are yellow, to which he answered:

They’re yellow because when it was time to pick the colour for the cartoon I didn’t want the conventional cartoon colours.

An animator came up with the Simpsons’ yellow and as soon as she showed it to me I said: ‘This is the answer!’ because when you’re flicking through channels with your remote control, and a flash of yellow goes by, you’ll know you’re watching The Simpsons. 

Ref: http://news.bbc.co.uk/cbbcnews/hi/newsid_6260000/newsid_6262500/6262584.stm


The example of Microsoft Office shows the desire of Microsoft to tie-in their products into a common image. While Matt Groening’s animator’s rationale, to push for a USP, a way of differentiating their product from the competition is something that can achieve such incredible brand recognition.

Cartoons with yellow characters will lead you to think of The Simpsons. Any software with the same background and theme as Word or PowerPoint, will subliminally lead you to recognise it as a Microsoft Office product.

The power of branding is huge, to the point where board games and apps exist, based solely on brand recognition.


Interfacing with software can sometimes be very intuitive, recognition and comfort are important aspects of this, and as testers we have a responsibility to advocate for that experience.

Your company may have a corporate colour scheme, jingle (hello Intel – get out of my head), typeface or even ethical stance.

An expectation therefore would be that anything contradicting those threads would be jarring and could confuse a customer, or lead them to believe that your company doesn’t understand its own brand.

There’s a lot to be considered when establishing a brand, even more so perhaps with a rebrand – or a limited edition rebrand.

As testers, our eyes and our experience using our products can be invaluable to the success of these things, our voice is needed.

Cue (Queue?) the out of context branding:


Blog post title lyrics from: Picture of you – by Boyzone.

Find all the songs from my blog posts at this Spotify playlist.

Every day create your history…..

…..Every path you take you’re leaving your legacy

Part 4 of my series on Michael Bolton‘s (F)EW HICCUPPS mnemonic.

History. We expect the present version of the system to be consistent with past versions of it.

What is your relationship to change?


Much as my attitude is to the introvert-extrovert spectrum, my feelings about change contrast massively. These attitudes that I hold are not binary, and I believe that I am not unique in this.

But, there is a reason why resting on your laurels is a phrase with negative connotations. In software, this is definitely true, whether we like it or not.

You only need to look at the impact that was made when Microsoft ended support for XP, to see how difficult and irksome it was for businesses and organisations to continue – either by paying for continued support or by migrating older systems to a newer OS, both of which carry a huge cost.

An example can be found at: http://bgr.com/2015/06/24/windows-xp-support-us-navy-millions/

Changes can be both positive and negative, and perceived very differently by the end users. Forum posts are full of suggestions for new features and complaints about changes that have been made, sometimes in direct contradiction of each other.

Public perception of your product can be vital, a big change can be a massive turn off, and competition could be there to capitalise, Apple often being a prime candidate – see http://uk.complex.com/pop-culture/2011/11/tech-companies-dissing-apple-in-commercials/blackberry-flash-commercial

When I started as a games tester in 2004, the title needed to get it right first time.

We live in an age of updates, patches, OTA upgrades and the like. The age of continuous updates was a game changer.


A sudden and big change can be one thing….


….but removing a feature can be worse.

When Chrome 52 came out, the functionality of the backspace key changed and irked a lot of users.

What does that mean for us as testers? How does this change the way that we can advocate for the end user? How are changes communicated? How often are changes delivered?

These will all be things that we need to consider, but there is no blanket answer for these.

As a user I have to accept that change will happen, if I don’t accept updates I will lose functionality or worse still security features (read wannacry).

As a tester, I should have a feel and understanding for my product, when things change are we improving the product for the end user? How often should updates be pushed to production?

The Japanese have a phrase for continuous improvement, kaizen, and that is something that we should bear in mind with our products regardless of domain.


My challenge to you and myself, is to look into how this mindset can be implemented in your own domain.

Blog post title lyrics from: History – Tony Moran’s HIStory Lesson – by Michael Jackson.

Find all the songs from my blog posts at this Spotify playlist.

All the kids in the marketplace say…..

…..Walk like an Egyptian

The software industry is in a continuous state of change, testing is no different.

There are few hard and fast rules and it’s fair to say that one size doesn’t fit all.


That’s not to say that there aren’t themes and trends that are sensible to follow.

Having recently completed a very thorough and engaging Agile refresh training course, I had chance to take stock of our testing strategy versus that which was put forward by the trainer.

Invariably, Mike Cohn‘s test pyramid model appeared at the forefront.


The emphasis of this model is that of automation, heavier at the base of the pyramid with unit testing, then with service (also read API layer or acceptance) tests. Finally, UI testing at the top, requiring fewer tests, as defects should not be so prevalent higher up the pyramid. This comes accompanied with a y axis running upward to represent cost of implementing the tests, both in implementation and in speed of feedback.

These are all very valid points. But, to follow this model and this model alone is dangerous.

Lisa Crispin has a fine overview of Agile testing available on her website http://lisacrispin.com/downloads/AgileTestingOverview.pdf

She mentions the Agile Testing Quadrants and the shared responsibility of the whole development team in Agile.

If you spend a little time Googling around the subject of the testing pyramid model, you can find a common thread of arguments for and against adopting the model.

The truth is that even if your organisation is running Agile, there will likely be many flavours of the methodology in use. The approach to testing is no different.

You have to find your own way, to cover what works best for your team, your skillset and your customers.

There are, of course variants of the testing pyramid model, where it is inverted (ice cream cone), often used as an example of what is wrong with UI heavy and Unit test light development.

However, Noah Sussman made one that makes a little more sense.

I am a staunch believer in the quality and importance of humans as testers and the use of automation to be used to ‘check’ (another well trodden path of friction for many testers). Del Dewar‘s post The Testing-Checking Synergy explains this better than I.


If you’re not testing, you’re not uncovering any information, and in your not uncovering any information, you’re simply confirming nothing more than speculation about what your product may (or may not) do, and there’s an enormous amount of information that you don’t (and may never) know about your product.


The only message, I guess I’m trying to articulate is that there is so much value in testing throughout the SDLC, automation enabling and informing testing, so that a product can be released with a greater sense of confidence in its quality.

Our approaches and practices should evolve through time, we learn from our mistakes and we improve and move with the times. The importance of staying relevant and continuous improvement is what should be our key drivers.

I am eternally grateful to all those who take their time to share their thoughts and practices via social media, blogs, vlogs, podcasts, workshops, webinars and conference talks.

Blog post title lyrics from: Walk like an Egyptian – by The Bangles.

Find all the songs from my blog posts at this Spotify playlist.