Friday, October 22, 2010

An End, and a new Beginning...

A lot can happen in two months time, nations have fallen, court proceedings have been completed, and sports seasons are nearly done.   When I last posted in August, I wasn’t quite expecting to go all of September without a blog entry.  I knew that based on the schedule for our Cub Scout Pack, Soccer, and Work schedules that October could be a heck of a month, but that was still almost six weeks away. 

I had just completed a research project, and come to the determination that if we wanted test automation that was easier to maintain, and of long lasting value, that we would very likely have to move away from using the older tool that we were using on the project.   Then came the exploration of a slightly newer version of the tool, and yes it provided some new bells and whistles, but when it came down to it, I still felt that given the way our website worked, that tool was not meeting our needs.

It’s a shame that it took me nearly a year to come to that conclusion.  Oh I knew the tests I was capturing, building, and testing were brittle, and sometimes it’s not something that’s easily avoidable given development practices on any given team, but it had become crystal clear to me, that building and maintaining automation did not have to be so hard.   Well, it is shear irony that I came to this conclusion just a couple of weeks before I was told they would not be keeping me on for the next contract year.  I thanked the project manager for allowing me to learn so much from the time I spent with their team, but realized that shifting gears at this point was not a logical possibility.  So I resolved to capture as many tests as I could in the short span of time I had left, and to leave behind documentation of the struggles, and conclusions I had come to so that in the future better solutions could be chosen for their team.  I am hopeful that work was not done in vain.

It was an interesting project, and I am thankful for every moment, every topic that came up in the pursuit of becoming better at testing, and specifically test automation as I worked to test for that project.  I really enjoyed working with the great group of people that comprised that team, and I hope I may one day be able to work with some of them again, but it was good to move on.   

When I took the step of faith to step out of my cushy box as a software developer, to walk on the other side of the cube so to speak, it was a bit of a risk.  I had done some testing off and on before, it seemed to always be something I would be called on to perform now and then, but without any formal training, or much relevant experience to fall back upon, I did not know if I was equal to that task.  However, I was eager to learn new things about software development, and was determined to become as solid as possible as a tester on this project.  In hindsight, I believe I achieved that goal, and as a result opened a vault of untapped knowledge relating not just to software development, but testing as well. 

The experience truly has transformed my thinking, although I now feel somewhat like a software development mutt, caring both about increasing my skills as a developer and tester.  The new project I am on promises to permit me to grow, and apply some of the techniques and skills I learned about testing, even some that were not applicable to the kinds of testing I was required to do before.  Plus, as a bonus I may get to learn more about a new technical area of which I have always had a small interest in, but little time to really dig into it until now.  

So the old project is done, a new one is on my plate, and I couldn’t be happier for the change, change truly is good, and I thank God for the opportunity to continue to build knowledge related to testing, even as I find myself straddling a fine line between being a pure developer, and a pure tester.   There will be more posts coming about lessons I’ve already learned and applied on this new project, but for now I am happy to be where I am professionally right now, and I can’t wait to see what’s around the next corner.  So while I’ve come to an end, I’ve discovered that it’s really just a new beginning.