Monday, July 30, 2012

Tester Reading Challenge: Read Markus Gärtner's ATDD by Example in 15 Days or less!

Are you ready for a Tester Reading Challenge? Read Markus Gärtner's ATDD by Example in 15 Days or less!

Okay, one of my favorite testers, Michael Larsen, AST Board Member, This Week In Software Testing   producer,  a Boy Scoutmaster, and Weekend Testing America's driving member is often found saying, hey make a bold prediction, and then try and meet that prediction, you may just surprise yourself.  Well in the aftermath of CAST 2012 (Conference for Association of Software Testing), I noticed that he and a couple of my favorite testers and MiagiDo members went to by Markus Gärtner's ATDD by Example.  My copy arrived just today, and I've been looking forward to reading it during the next couple of weeks.  I was admiring the cover, and the size of the book is not too hefty, and thought hey, it's a shame I couldn't get Markus's picture with it.  Well actually I did thanks to tweetdeck (see here: As tasteful a picture of a book with my notebook computer as it will come. The thought then occurred to me, this book is 200 hundred pages.

I began to wonder, how long would it take me to read through this, at ten pages a day that would be 20 days.  No, that sounds too easy, and with some free time to read padded in my schedule, I decided to challenge myself, and anyone else so motivated to read Markus's book in 15 days or left.  For myself, I've set myself a challenge of August 12th to finish the reading.  (see:

I have no idea whether that's a reasonable challenge for me given my commute times to and from work at just over an hour and a half both ways.  Nor do i know how much free time I'll have in the next few weeks, yet ten pages a day seems a decent morsel to both read and digest and it's high time I tried something bold.  

Not only that, I'm challenging every tester in the community, who has not already done so to purchase this book, and try to beat, match, or meet the goal of reading this 200 page tome in 15 days or less.  If you take the challenge, I'd love to hear from you, and your impressions of the book as I'm fairly certain it's reading may help many testers look at their craft in new ways.

So, will you take the challenge?

Here's a quick link to the book on Amazon, should your local bookstore not carry it ATDD By Example: A Practical Guide to Acceptance Test-Driven Development


  1. I have my copy and only had a quick flick through - so I'm up for the challenge !

  2. Hello Tim,

    I think I do not understand the challenge entirely. Is it the purpose to find out if a (any) book of about 200 pages can be read within a period of 15 days (or less), given that only a specific part of the day is reserved for reading?
    Or is it specifically Markus' book that poses a true challenge because of the extremely difficult subject matter or perhaps a very small font? ;)

    What should be the result of having read Markus' book? Know the contents word for word? Have a general grasp of what he talks about? Find three ideas that you can start using in practice straight away?

    If you want to do a qualitative evaluation of this challenge then maybe an important aspect of this challenge is missing. You could for example list the books that you are not going to read in this 15 day period. Or other activities that you'd skip because you're reading a (any) book.

    Nonetheles, I hope you enjoy reading the book!

    1. Those are interesting questions. I'll be honest that I didn't think quite that deeply about it when I challenged myself here. There is always a trap when you buy a new book. It's easy to start them, it's more difficult, especially with technical tomes to finish them. For me the challenge is to complete the book. Do I have additional goals of what I'd like to get out of it? Yes, I'm hopeful that it will give me a better understanding of ATDD and Acceptance Testing in General. That may seem like a trivial matter to some, but my knowledge of ATDD is limited.

      Now I mentioned my time constraints as a factor in the challenge only to consider the risks about setting the goal and not attaining it. As I am still kind of in limbo between my new testing gig and my old address I've had little time of late to do these things, yet my mind says to itself, ten pages a day ought to be doable, especially if you know you have a little unstructured time coming in your travel schedule.

      As for whether the challenge is specifically Markus's book, it didn't have to be Markus's book, but the challenge to read a book to testers, for me is more about reading something to advance your knowledge of software development, or the craft of testing in general. Asking someone to memorize the book seems a bit foolish, so that's not part of it. Markus's book just happened to be the first 'book' I choose to challenge myself with in the last half of 2012.

      Now, I find these are all interesting questions, because we are always trying to define what does 'done' mean for a particular group of development tasks. For me the end goal is twofold, I'm hoping to finish the book cover to cover. I'm also hoping to find additional benefit that will help me in communicating better with my team. The later is a difficult concept to quantify.

      Yes there is something of an opportunity cost in choosing this book to challenge myself to read. I have another book I'm hoping to also spend some time in and finish. (That book would be Brian Marick's everyday scripting with Ruby, which I had started in June of last year, but got side tracked when I got thrown back onto a C# team. With Ruby a high possibility of need on my current team I want to finish that book too. Yet I didn't challenge myself on it because I know that tome will take time and I want to digest it slowly.

      There is a risk here though. Markus's book has to do with ATDD, a quick flip through looked like some SpecFlow/RSpec type definitions that may require time to walk through exercises. If so, then that will indeed complicate the matter. However, I was feeling bold last night to challenge myself and to offer the challenge to anyone else so inclined to take up the Gauntlet. One thing I must warn myself, is I do tend to read fairly fast. Maybe not as fast as the Bach brothers, but technical tomes I tend to not read as quickly.

      My hope as I continue forward in a new era of learning here is to be able to go back and finish at least one more testing related book which I started, but did not complete because my team context didn't match enough to get good value out of it. (That book would be Lisa Crispin and Janet Gregory's Agile Testing book. My thinking is if I can challenge myself with this smaller tome, that I can then challenge myself to pick that book back up and finish it this time.)

      Thanks for the comments, and I hope everyone who takes the challenge, doesn't just read to skim it from cover to cover, but really gets something they value out of it. I'm hopeful that ATDD by Example, a Practical Guide will be the kind of book I might read more than once because of its detail. Sorry if this was a bit of a long winded answer, but these are deeper questions which required deep thinking to answer.