Nelz's Blog

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Links - Quality and QA

Sorry I haven’t posted in a while… The Thanksgiving holidays were pretty busy for me…

Joel’s Talk at Yale: Part 1 of 3:

  • "This seems like a kind of brutal example, but nonetheless, this search for the holy grail of program quality is leading a lot of people to a lot of dead ends. The Windows Vista team at Microsoft is a case in point. Apparently—and this is all based on blog rumors and innuendo—Microsoft has had a long term policy of eliminating all software testers who don’t know how to write code, replacing them with what they call SDETs, Software Development Engineers in Test, programmers who write automated testing scripts. The old testers at Microsoft checked lots of things: they checked if fonts were consistent and legible, they checked that the location of controls on dialog boxes was reasonable and neatly aligned, they checked whether the screen flickered when you did things, they looked at how the UI flowed, they considered how easy the software was to use, how consistent the wording was, they worried about performance, they checked the spelling and grammar of all the error messages, and they spent a lot of time making sure that the user interface was consistent from one part of the product to another, because a consistent user interface is easier to use than an inconsistent one."
  • This bit reminds me that we need to look at some of the non-technical benefits of having non-technical testers. (This is something that I have been challenged with in the past.) Now, I’m not advocating getting rid of automated testing, but there is an undeniable benefit to having actual people actually poke your software.
  • "Currently, in the battle between the geeks and the suits, the suits are winning, because they control the budget…"
  • This quote echo’s something that I’ve seen in my career as of late. Adopting some of Joel’s language: There is a continuum between the suits and the geeks, with the suits wanting to rush stuff out the door and the geeks striving for high-quality code purity. In every business there are judgments and compromises to be made, but it is my job as a geek to make sure my projects land in the middle of the continuum by representing the code purity side. If I did not do my job we would be left with quickly delivering a lot of buggy code. I am the geek Yin to the suits’ Yang.

Is Quality Negotiable?:

  • Mirroring what I said above about the "suit vs. geek, quick vs. quality" continuum, this article helps to point out that contention in many instances.