I love reading software tester blogs but sometimes I can't relate. Many of the topics are too academic to have any practical value for my daily testing struggles. Test blogs and forums often discuss test approaches (e.g., manual vs. automated, scripted vs. exploratory). These are interesting topics but many are outside my scope of control. I can influence my managers to some extent, but I also have to operate within the processes and tools they dictate.

I work for a QA group in a large company that is very metric hungry when it comes to testing. Most of my managers love manual detailed test cases, requirements coverage, and other practices that create administrative work for us testers, thereby reducing our available time for actual testing. In practice, I think most of my peers test the way I do, attacking a feature with an exploratory type approach, then updating execution results of a handful of test cases that give a vague and superficial representation of what was tested.

Recently, some of my managers have also decided we should attempt to automate most of our tests, which from their perspective, seems realistic and should free up our time because we can just fire off automated tests instead of wasting time with manual execution. One manager tells of how in the good old days when he was a tester, he would launch his automation suite and take the rest of the day off. This romanticized version of test automation is far from anything I can fathom...and I think he may be exaggerating.

So I'm left in the awkward position of trying to be a valuable tester from my manager's perspective but also from the perspective of the software team I support. My daily struggles are typically not very romantic and my ideas are not groundbreaking. However, I do feel myself improving with each question I answer. And I don't think I'm the only tester to waste energy on questions like these...

  • Did someone log this already?
  • How much more time should I spend investigating this bug?
  • Should I reopen the bug or log a new one?
  • Is it a bug?
  • Should I be embarrassed using a stop watch to performance test the Login screen?
  • Was that test worth automating?
  • Is it ready to test?
  • Should I log it without repro tests?
  • Am I bored?
  • Am I valuable?
  • Did I test this already?
  • Is my goal to find as many bugs as possible?
  • Who do I really serve?
  • Do my bugs suck?
  • Is my job lame?
  • Can I log a bug because I hate the way the UI looks?
  • Am I irritated with my AUT?
  • When is my job done?
  • Did my devs smoke crack while they wrote this?
  • Does anyone really get performance testing?
  • Does my pride hurt when my bugs get rejected?
  • What the hell is this feature supposed to do?
  • Should I be spending time logging bugs on the hourglass pointers that don't trigger?
  • Do I posses any special abilities or am I just an A-hole with the patience to submit another fake order for the 300th time?
Hopefully this blog will find its niche discussing the unromantic software test struggles of the hands-on tester. I'm not a manager. I'm not a consultant. I was never a professional developer. I'm not cool enough to have a beard with braids in it. I haven't written any testing books. And I haven't spoken on testing in front of a large audience. However, I have been practicing the art of testing software for the last seven years and I've experienced many practices that do and do not appear to work. I plan to share those here and I hope you will show me where I am wrong, offer your own solutions, or give me a pat on the back. See you soon.


  1. Alex said...

    I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts -- especially your answers to the specific questions you pose.

  2. Chandrakant said...

    Good Blog, It really speaks what practically a tester goes through. Especially the question that I recently came across. "Should I be embarrassed using a stop watch to performance test the Login screen?" ..... for some this question might not seem to be that worth mentioning. but the one who has come across such question knows what it means....

  3. Eric Jacobson said...

    Thanks chandrakant. I'm glad you can relate. Just out of curiosity, how did you find my blog? Please pass it on to any other testers you think would enjoy it. I'm having a hard time getting this thing off the ground. Thanks, again for the comment!

  4. Chandrakant said...

    Yes Sure!! I am regular reader of blogs on testing, Most of the blogs as you said are more academic, but on day to day basis the one that you can apply practically matters and that what can be immediately applied...
    Great Blog!!
    keep it up!!!

  5. Phil said...

    Have a pat on the back and keep on writing

    ( just noticed your comment about getting your blog off the ground - one way to do it is to have it in your sig and participate in forums and mailing lists - and sorry, I cant remember where I found your blog in the first place ! )

  6. Cliff said...

    I'm a little bit late to this post, but please accept a virtual pat on the back from me. I think I made my way to your blog from the Braidy Tester somehow (although I could be making that up). I'm a consultant (who's hopefully not full of bs :-) ) but I've spent time in your shoes too. I appreciate the perspective. Would love to talk to you more in the future. -cliff

  7. Eric Jacobson said...

    Thanks, Cliff!

    I hope you stay with me to help me see things from another perspective.

  8. Software Testing Fundamentals said...

    I located your blog just a few days ago and I like what you've been writing. I give you my pat on your back.


  9. richa said...

    Nice blog, I am new to testing and this blog is a refreshment to my acdemic learning. I enjoy reading this blog and i also learn.

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