Showstopper”. This means the show cannot go on. I guess the full metaphor is something like… the star of the show has lost her voice! The show must be stopped until her understudy has been located…or in our case, until the bug is fixed.

I’ve always hated the label “Showstopper”. I tried to convince my previous manager not to use it. I half-seriously argued it was a theater metaphor and theater metaphors don’t get used for other bug priorities. Well, if some insist upon using this theater metaphor, perhaps we should incorporate other theater metaphors into software testing and development.

  • Maybe we should classify our second priority bugs as “Technical Difficulties” (i.e., the light board blew a fuse but the stage crew determines they can use the house lights to keep the performance going…a workaround.)
  • The third priority bugs would be called “Missed Lines” (i.e., an actor forgot a line but the other actors easily improvise and no critical story essentials are missing.)
  • And finally, “Mediocre Set Design” (i.e., the set is barebones and unconvincing but with a little imagination, the audience can still enjoy the story.)
And why stop with just bug priorities...
  • Instead of the User Acceptance Test phase we should call it “Dress Rehearsal”.
  • Opening Night” is the night we deploy a new release to production.
  • When our users open Task Manager to force quit our app, they are “Cutting Out At Intermission”.
  • When the tester gets a perpetual hour-glass, the devs can say the feature got “Stage Fright”.
  • We can make our open bug list public and call it “Breaking the fourth wall”.
  • As CM kicks off the build, we’ll remind them to “Break a Leg”.
  • If our users ask for more features, we’ll bow and consider it a “Standing Ovation”.
  • And our dev who is always throwing in those extra features nobody asked for, they can be the team “Prima Donna” or “Divo”.
  • And finally, if our load testing was done poorly, we may end up with long lines of people waiting to use theater bathrooms. Some of these queues may get quite long. Eventually, people may wait so long they time out….er…"Pee Their Pants”.


  1. crayons don't do broadway said...

    Hmm I haven't really given that term much thought before, but that's an interesting perspective on it.

    I noticed while you're going off on it, I didn't see any alternative suggestions for it.

    Maybe "Critical" might be a better word than "Showstopper"... but in the end it's just semantics so as long as everyone is in agreement as to what it means...

  2. Jim said...

    Instead of giving users release notes, we can give them a program. Instead of training them, we can usher them.

  3. Eric Jacobson said...


    Sure. I'm just having fun.

    I hear metaphors all day long and always get distracted by them. Everybody says "I'll touch base with you", I guess that's a baseball reference. I'll "Circle-Back". "Roadmaps", what's on the "Horizon"? "Scrum". Don't throw me "under the bus", don't "hang me out to dry". I found a "Bug"...sheesh.

  4. Alex said...

    I would totally have changed all the rest of the names if you had pressed me on it!

  5. Eric Jacobson said...

    Awesome! (Alex was my previous manager )

Copyright 2006| Blogger Templates by GeckoandFly modified and converted to Blogger Beta by Blogcrowds.
No part of the content or the blog may be reproduced without prior written permission.