Friday, December 3, 2010

Where in the world are all the Software Testers?

One of the blogs I read on a regular basis is Alan Page's Tooth of the Weasel Blog.  Recently I have been particularly engaged in thought on the question of forward thinking as it relates to software testing.  There have been discussions on Twitter recently about just these sorts of things, and as Alan wonders on his blog entry Careers In Test:  "What are the new ideas in testing? What is our role in the future of quality software? How do we advance the state of the art in testing?"

These are interesting questions, and initially a lot of this discussion focused on some of the concepts other authors have been writing about for years. The problem seems that in many places testing doesn't has the appearance that it hasn't changed, that it isn't any different than it was twenty years ago.   Now I have only been in the technical field of software professionally for about eight or nine years now, so I do not have much first hand experience to go on about what was the common practices in testing fifteen or twenty years ago.   However, I have been able to get a peak back by reading every morsel I could get my mind's fork into as I gobble up old software test articles, or books written that give some shading and hue to the background of the field I now find myself thoroughly engaged.

Once upon a time, testing was just one sliver of what I did in my role on a software project, but now testing is very much a key and important part of everything I do, for it is by testing that we learn about the projects that we build.  Which brings me back to Alan Page's recent entry.  Where are the forward thinkers? I don't know if I qualify as a forward thinker just yet, but I am certainly more aware and active in my role in testing than I was before.  But Alan raises an interesting question, why don't we see more Forward thinkers.  I personally believe they are out there, but where I could not guess, and there certainly are some forward thinking minds that are now practically famous in the testing community now, too many for me to list them by name.  However, it got me to thinking about why things may have been different twenty years ago and one word came into my head:  the net.  

Twenty years ago even dial up service was hard to find in some areas, and the so-called "Information Super Highway" had not yet materialized as a tangible valuable asset that it now is today.  When I think about testing, and the norms of any work place, I can't help but picture that many are just working in their current area to earn a buck, to put food on the table, to continue to exist with some level of lifestyle familiar unto them. 

I find that many people are developers or testers by day, but by night they put off that cloak and become something else, a husband, a wife, a father, a mother, a friend, a sportsman, a couch potato, a bachelor, whatever.  Many of these people are very bright in technical areas, and people I hold a great deal of respect for.  I imagine there are many Joe or Melissa, average testers out there striving to make their little corner of the software world cleaner, like a broom trying to get the last few kernels out of a corner.  So I found myself this morning commenting on Alan's blog and found inspiration for my first Blog of December.  (Thanks Alan!)  So here is the crust of what my thinking was this morning: my original comment is here.

After writing some more this morning I had more thoughts on this, so I'd like to even take it one step further than that, to issue a challenge to my fellow testers out there, some may have already done this, but earlier in the year I put out a question on twitter for any testing societies within my home state.  As of right now, there are none, none that I can find, so this is something of a troubling thing for me.  One of my hopes, and goals should I continue to do as I have here in West Virginia is to find a way to establish a community of testers either within just my corner of southern West Virginia or perhaps the entire state.  The problem is how to start it.

The first is to reach out to testers that you know.  On my hand, I can think of four people at work who are testers on other projects, and there may be others.  The challenge I think is to find a way to network with those we know, those we may come in contact them, and invite them into this world that is growing online.  My challenge is this, what can you as a Tester do to grow our reach as a community?  I challenge you to invite one person, one possible tester into this world.  Invite them to check out at least one part of our growing community.  Whether it is the articles and blogs on Software Test Pro or show them the site for the Association of Software Testing.  Link them to blogs and sites for other testers like Michael Bolton, Lanette Creamer, James and Jon Bach, Matt Heusser, Alan Page, or maybe some other site or part of our community.  Let's do our part to build the community of testing up, and through that maybe we may find out where in the World are All the Software testers?


(I forgot to link to Alan Page's Blog post, Thanks Michael Bolton for catching me on that, I will try to do better on my citations in the future.)


  1. One of the things I'm most proud of is helping grow The Software Testing Club - if you're not already a member come along and join

  2. Yeah I forgot to mention TSTC, but its one of those sites that I can never remember if I'm a member, or just have a linked sign in for google/facebook or whatever. I'll investigate that, cause I know I visit the site pretty often.

    Strike that, I do have a login over there, and it is also linked to google.