Testing......where is the excitement?

It's been a while. No excuses I've just struggled to make the time to stop and think. So I find myself with many months worth of thoughts all gathered in chaos in my head. I'll apologise in advance if this post comes out a little chaotic.
This may come across a little like I'm Microsoft bashing but that's not my intention at all. Basically a simple trip down to the Microsoft dev briefing with a few colleagues brought a number of 'things' that have been frustrating me recently into focus. I attended the dev briefing, maybe a little naively, with a positive mind-set and the intention of bringing some learning’s back with me, despite the cynicism of one of my colleagues. The dev briefing was billed as an on stage demonstration of rapid software development and software development practices.

So we all know Microsoft love to demo new tech right? But they went to great lengths to sell the fact that this would be an effective lifecycle on stage, hell they even had an Agile and a Quality guy in the line-up.
To these ends I was to be disappointed - The 'Agile guy' focused much of his time on a demo of the Visual Studio Online built in kanban board and the 'Quality guy' suddenly became the 'Dev ops guy' with much of the focus on dev ops technology for deployment quality.

I'll be brutally honest and say that after the 'Agile guy' had finished, having barely touched on the real value of Agile practises and with no hint of discussing the value/importance of interpreting the ask into stories and acceptance criteria, I found myself taking to twitter with more than a smattering of my own cynicism. We'd done the 'Agile guy' and I had yet to actually pick up what they were intending to build.

I'll spare you the details but the tone of the day didn't get much better from a 'demonstration of effective software development on stage' perspective. That's not to say that the day was boring, far from it. They demonstrated some interesting tech and development concepts but it really did feel like a series of product and technology demo's as opposed to a joined up development cycle.

When they introduced the 'Quality guy' as the 'Dev ops guy' I'll be honest, my mind drifted. Useful stuff but I found myself questioning why they had either chosen to or found difficult, bringing quality and test to the forefront of a demonstration of software development, after all we live in a world of test and behavioural driven development.

1) Was it the fact that the audience were overwhelmingly developers (only three hands including my own went up when they asked how many testers were in present)?

2) Was it because Microsoft were pushing an Agenda around technology and tooling and nothing new and ground breaking had come from Microsoft in the test/quality arena recently?

3) Was it just that quality and testing disciplines don't excite people, let alone a room full of developers?

4) Is the importance of quality practices, test first thinking and discipline in modern development still so widely misunderstood?

This started me thinking about recent examples where I have found myself increasingly frustrated at a lack of willingness from developers (not to tar all developers with the same brush) to embrace quality and testing as additional strings to their development bow. What has seemed, at times, like a complete failing to really challenge themselves to become more rounded developers, writing more cohesive and stable code by merely getting more involved in quality and test thinking.

The combination of moments of frustration culminating in what I perceived (rightly or wrongly) to be the behemoth that is Microsoft 'avoiding' quality and test, makes me wonder whether this frustrating minority, really are a minority. I'm not suggesting test experts no longer have a place, that place has merely shifted towards quality as a whole rather than specifically test. But why, despite all of the evidence telling us how embracing testing practices into software development only proves to enhance the quality of code written, do so many developers still see testing as menial and degrading?

I’d love to say I know the answer. Right now I’m frustrated however I hope to channel that frustration into looking at new ways to engage developers to help them to understand and embrace quality and test rather than looking on it with suspicion.

Little quiz to end the post..... Who can tell me where the below picture is taken?

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Matt Parker

16 years in software development, 12 of those in software testing, 6 years test automation and 4 years in an Agile environment. What have I learnt? There is no right way to test just a right mindset.

In fields of green
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