When I talk to people about my job at Automattic, most of them can’t really comprehend how it can possibly work since it’s so different to what they see as a ‘normal job’.
If you saw my talk at GTAC last year, ‘your tests aren’t flaky‘, then you’re probably aware of my view on flaky tests actually being indicative of broader application/systems problems that we should address over making our tests less flaky.
But what if you’re in a situation where you work with a system where you can’t feasibly improve the reliability? Say you’ve got a domains page that should show you a list of available domains but since it’s using an external third-party service it sometimes just shows nothing?
I recently saw this quote in an article by Nikita Hasis on Medium.
“If Your Test Leaders Aren’t Telling You To Write Code, They Are Lying!
Even if it’s by omission.
There’s this argument, almost daily, about whether software testers should learn programming. I’ll jump right in. It is unimaginable that someone would tell you NOT to learn something. That’s the first, and probably shittiest lie that inexperienced testers get fed. It’s further unimaginable, and downright irresponsible to tell people not to learn something that is very clearly where a large, well-paying, and above all interesting part of the industry is heading. Wanna work on innovative, data-driven projects with smart and driven people? You probably need to pull up terminal and at least get your toes wet, y’all.
The worst part of the lie is that it imposes that coding is a difficult grind and will only cause more problems than it solves. I even saw Alister Scott’s blog post referenced as an argument against coding, ironic as it is.”
~ Nikita Hasis (Medium)
Since Medium is a walled garden that doesn’t allow you to leave a comment without creating an account I’ll leave my response here instead (where anyone is free to comment however they like).
You’ve most probably seen the sometimes-useful-but-often-annoying browser alerts when navigating away from a page:
How do we deal with these using WebDriver?
Fortunately since then the WebDriver project now supports checking for these errors without making any changes to your app, so if this has been stopping you doing this you can now do it quite easily.
“Ultimately, this article is mostly FUD, propaganda, and obfuscation. The parts that are not actually wrong or misleading are naive and trivial. Put it like this: if I were considering hiring someone for a testing position, and they submitted this exercise as part of their application, I would not hire them, even for a junior position. I would feel sorry for them.”
Chris returns from a hiatus of blogging with a great review of a paper from some of our so called software testing community ‘leaders’.
I’m glad he shared this for a few different reasons.
Firstly, when someone shared that paper with me I found it so cringeworthy that I couldn’t even continue reading it past the second page. So I’m glad Chris was stronger than me to be able to completely read it and share his thoughts
Secondly I’ve chosen to distance myself completely from that ‘community’ so providing any critique would be going against my decision.
Finally, I agree with every word Chris has written and I thank him for taking the time to speak up against it, because if other software professionals consider this wholly representative of the testing community then we’re in big trouble.
At Automattic we’re always dogfooding; we’re always testing as we develop and therefore we’re always finding bugs.
When I come across one of these bugs I try to capture as much as I can about what I was doing at the time when it happened, and also capture some evidence (a screenshot, visual recording, error messages, browser console) of it happening. But even then on occasion I can’t work out how to reproduce a bug.
This doesn’t mean the bug isn’t reproducible; it’s just that because there’s so many factors in the highly-distributed, multi-level systems that we develop and test, this means I don’t know how to reproduce these exact circumstances, therefore I don’t know how to reproduce this bug.
The exact set of circumstances that may cause a bug are never entirely reproducible; just like you can never live the exact same moment of your life ever again.
So, when this bug occurred, perhaps the server was under a particular level of load at that exact moment in time. Or one of the load-balancers was restarting, or maybe even my home broadband speed was affected by my children streaming The Octonauts in the next room.
So it can seem almost like a miracle when you do know how to reproduce a bug.
But what do you do with all of those bugs that you haven’t been able to reproduce?