It’s cold, but the beer is perfect. Craftsmanship in Software Testing

Imagine the scene. It’s cold. Very cold. Freezing in fact. It’s dark and I’m in a foreign country. But the weather is perfect. It’s Denmark and I’m in Copenhagen and the weather is just like I expect. It’s perfect for the time and place.


As I wander the streets of Copenhagen, with its glittery lights of Tivoli gardens and the huge signs that adorn many of the buildings and miles of dug-up roads, I feel a sense of trepidation as I keep checking my phones Sat Nav. I’m on my way to meet Rob Lugton; fellow tester, spirited tester, Australian and a man of impeccable taste.


I’m heading for Mikkeller bar on Rob’s recommendation,(, but I’m lost. The snow starts coming down hard and my Sat Nav is going nuts. But Rob finds me wandering the last.



So we enter the bar. It’s minimalist and trendy. Everyone looks so smart; bohemian even. There’s a real sense of design, care and attention. It’s a bar where the owners know your surrounding matter. That’s obvious.


The bar itself is tiny. Me and Rob, the two foreigners, are surveying our surroundings. There’s a board on the wall with 15 squares on it, each one containing the name of the beer and two prices. One for a small. One for a large.


Under the board are 15 generic, but elegant, beer taps. No names. No boards. No signage. Just 15 elegant taps. Most likely relating to each of the 15 beers on the board.


There’s not much information to go on. Our Danish is not good, but we both opt for the same beer.


The barman gives off the appearance of a biker. He’s stocky, small, bearded but friendly. We order the large beer and wait.


The barman suggests it might take some time. We look around…it’s not that busy….he takes payment. We stand for a while longer. He pours one beer. The froth taking up about two thirds of the glass. Maybe that’s why it takes time. It needs time to settle.


We stand and watch. The barman takes another glass and does the same. There’s our two beers. But then the barman takes two more glasses and does the same. He proceeds to pour two more. 6 in total. Wait. No. Two more. 8 in total. I only ordered 2.


He suggests we take a seat. Things are getting interesting.


Me and Rob observe from our lofty perches. The barman lines up all 8 drinks and, after leaving them time to settle, starts to spoon out the froth, leaving just the liquid. He does this for all 8. A process he does not rush. He is focussed. Concentrating. He’s a master craftsman. It takes time. It’s engaging to watch. This is a show.


All 8 done, he then pours 4 in to one glass. Beer number 1 done. The final four. That’s beer number 2. This really is something special. He finishes them off with a quick drop from the beer tab. He smoothes the froth from the top and delivers them to our table.


We are scared to pick them up. This is a work of art. We thank him. We take a sip.




It was the finest beer I have ever tasted. It was incredible. No chemical taste. No unpleasant after taste. No generic fizzy “brewed in X” here. It’s home brewed. It’s created with care. It’s delivered with care. It’s in an environment that cares. It’s a beer the Barman and the Brewer can be proud of. It’s an experience and a great one at that.


This is craftsmanship at its best. Care, attention, passion for the job, delivering value and joy to the customer; all packaged and delivered in an environment that both the customer and deliverer of goods can thrive in and be proud of.


Craftsmanship is making a welcome return (or is it new?) to software development and testing. That was evident at the EuroSTAR 2010 conference <– the reason I’m in Copenhagen.


Weekend testing, weeknight testing, coding Dojos, local user groups, testing communities and many new companies dedicated to bringing the care and craftsmanship back to delivering software are the rays of hope for the future. Things done well. Done the right way. Done with care. Done to delight the customer.


Why can’t all software be created and delivered in this way?  After all, anything less than craftsmanship is..well…is it simply not good enough?


Image from Brostad

A Danish Alliance #testing #softwaretesting #qa #esconfs

Here’s some videos from the Danish Alliance Lightning Talks that took place at EuroSTAR 2010 in Copenhagen.All of the videos can be found on The Software Testing Clubs YouTube channel here :

Shmuel Gershon (the guy who organised it all) has already posted his videos here.


I think I’m missing Andy Glover’s and James Lyndsay’s talk, sorry guys. The rest are below.



Jesper Ottosen – [youtube]

Zeger Van Hese – [youtube]

Shmuel Gershon – [youtube]

Rob Sabourin – [youtube]

Rikard Edgren – [youtube]

Markus Gaertner – [youtube]

Michael Bolton – [youtube]

Joris Meerts – [youtube]

Dot Graham- [youtube]

Bart Knaack – [youtube]








The Testing Planet – Issue 3 is out now

After many many many months of very hard work we’ve finally (a little later than planned) released The 3rd edition of The Testing Planet:


It’s got lots of cool articles, some fun stuff and some insightful ideas about testing. It’s also free to download or you can subscribe to a printed copy for a bargain price. 🙂


As usual, keep you articles coming in for future editions : rob (@) softwaretestingclub (dot) com


Thanks to everyone who helped put the Planet together, we couldn’t have done it without you.

FAILURE IS AN OPTION….. #testing #softwaretesting #qa

You’ve failed. I’ve failed. We’ve all failed. There’s no doubt about it. At some time or another everyone has failed at something. 

It’s what we do in the face of failure that shows who we really are. So don’t fear failure.

What better way to pick yourself up from failure than to read about other peoples failures.

I therefore introduce you to Mr Fails, The latest creation by The Cartoon Tester (Andy Glover) (Twitter address here). Published through The Software Testing Club.


eBook can be downloaded from here :


A Tester’s for life….not just for Christmas – The release #testing #testingclub

It’s here. The long awaited charity eBook written by you.


A few weeks back we asked you to fill in a form with answers to various test related questions. The ebook can be downloaded from here 


We do hope you enjoy it. We will be putting out all responses we received some time over the next few weeks as there were far too many to include in the ebook. A big thank you to all who took part.


If you are able and feel inclined then please do help us to raise our modest target of raising £250 for Oxfam this Christmas time. – After all, that’s what spurned on the creation of this eBook in the first place.


We’ve got a few more special treats coming out over the next few weeks in the lead up to Christmas too, so keep checking the official Testing Club blog : or you can follow us on Twitter @testingclub



Eurostar > Day 2 > The Carrot or the Whip – What Motivates Testers – Tafline Murnane #esconfs by Tafline from

Tafline did a great short introduction about herself and how passionate about testing she is.
Tafline suggested that what interested her were the people who come to work, clock in, go home. Chug through the motions.

If we can hook in some goals for these people as well as the really inspired ones then we can create a team of motivated testers.

Carrots or Whips?

Support them or whip them in to action?
Tafline said she is more motivated when people say she is not allowed to do something.


Tafline did a survey as a lead up to this presentation and related the results back to Maslow's hierarchy of needs to see how we as testers are motivating and motivating.


What motivates people depends on the people and their individual goals. You have to find out what motivates people on an individual levels.

You need to identify their goals and find the ones that match the company goals or business goals. Things that motivate you, might not motivate your team or peers.

Tafline then introduced the Hierarchy of Needs –

Tafline's survey results are:

Over 70% of the respondents reported Self Esteem as a motivator
then 50%+ for Self Actualisation
the others were much lower

Basic Survival

Very few people reported biological needs.
Many suggested competitive salary.
Comfortable Environment
Flexible and Sensible Hours

How to do it ->> Provide the above
How common ->> 39% mentioned biological needs, 15% mentioned money

Safety and Security

Job Security, Stability and Protection
Predictable Behaviour
Safe to make mistakes
Secure Environment

How to do it ->> Protect Your Team
How common ->> 30% – less common

Love and Belonging

Friendship, teamwork
Welcoming atmosphere
Easier to communicate

How to do it ->> Lead by example, Law of reciprocity (ask nicely, approval, team building)

How common ->> 45% more common


Respect and Self Respect

How to do it ->> Enable strengths to be recognised and respected (reward, appreciate, responsibility, take interest)
How common ->> 73%

We've struggled to gain respect as testers. This could be why we are asking for it much more as a key motivator.

Self Actualisation

Desire to become everything a tester is capable of

How to do it ->> Support Testers (Achieve goals, accountability, deadlines, challenging and varied work, Problem Solving, Career Progression, Training, Conferences, Mentoring, Build teams that testers want to be part of
How common ->> 58% Second most popular.


Tafline suggested that the film Office Space should be compulsory learning for all people in IT (she was joking). Couldn't agree more.

She introduced the concept of IDEA Teams


Test Management
Performance Testing

People earn idea points which convert to $$$$$$ if they come up with innovation and ideas etc. It's an interesting concept.

Tafline then introduced the motivator of Career Progression.

1. Where are you now
2. Where do you want to be
3. What do you need to get there?

Rewards for Finding Bugs

Avoid rewarding defect counts.
Better to reward value.

Task Boards

Excellent way of showing the state of the projects.

Not Enough Time

Reported as being a massive demotivator. Not giving people enough time to do the job right is a huge demotivator.

Peer Review

Can work as a motivator or demotivator. Tafline mentioned the Good News, Bad News, Good News Sandwich

Bug Fix Bingo

Didn't realise Tafline worked for the same company who released the legendary Bug Fix Bingo


This was a fantastic talk by Tafline. Really great content, great delivery, passionate topic. The fact that this is evidence based is superb. Great to get some real world insight to our testing community. The survey could do with more responses but Tafline knows this and is opening up the survey for further responses soon : keep an eye on her site.

Couldn't help but include a link to the Dan Pink video that partly re-enforces Tafline's findings. Really enjoyed this session. Next for me -> The Test Lab


Skateboarding Physics Professor..Building Culture of Teaching and Learning #esconfs

EuroSTAR 2010 is all about “Passion”. Passion for testing. Passion for what we do. Passion for learning.

Inspiration, motivation, energising, engaging, uplifting and more more more.

And it inspired me to post a link to this great video about how to build a new culture of teaching and learning. Oh, and by the way, Dr Tae is a Skateboarding Physics Professor. It’s about education and why our schools systems suck. A lot of this (if not all of it) is directly applicable to the testing world….especially the bit about certification 🙂

Here’s the video:


[vimeo 5513063 w=400 h=225]

Dr. Tae — Building A New Culture Of Teaching And Learning from Dr. Tae on Vimeo.

EuroSTAR 2010 > How To Embed A Passion For Quality – Geoff Thompson

Interesting start to the presentation with a flashy video of an Aston Martin Vantage (nice car)…..Geoff is going to buy one when he retires

Now a role play between a Project Manager and the Test Manager about estimation on data migration.
The test manager builds an estimate with the team
TM : 12 weeks, seven staff, project manager chokes
PM : estimate doesn't include planning???? We need full estimates, go away and come back with full estimate
PM : Another 4 weeks from the Test Manager.
TM : We do test cycles…..

you can see where the conversation goes.

During the conversation no one discussed what "finish testing" was or what was meant by "quality"
The Test Manager didn't pro-actively look at how to help devs stop defects, as he has a wealth of experience.

The Test Manager is not just there to be a defect detection tester, they need to be pro-active in preventing bugs in the first place.

Case Study
A test team approached a project by creating a massive list of acceptance criteria the project/software must meet before testing will get engaged. Their passion for quality (and V-Model) blinded them from actually getting involved in the kick off of a project.

They changed this to get involved earlier which made a massive difference. They are now involved at the start where they get to plan their own testing and estimation.

Case Study
Legal and General where Geoff worked as a Test Lead in IT. The team asked for four more weeks to catch all of the defects. Their passion was blinding them to being able to test in shorter cycles. This team never listened to anything, their passion drove them in the wrong direction. They wanted quality but were potentially misguided.

Case Study
Government project where they were changing the internal product. Deadline is tight and 75% of our business will be lost if we don't meet the deadline. The Test Manager knew you needed to look at the software to inspect for confidence.

The team he had wrote tests that checked all of the values in fields. This is unit testing so he moved these testers to the dev department.

Devs didn't like it, so test manager went to CEO and laid it on the line. Dev manager finally bought in….sounds like he/she had no choice…

There's a worrying trend I've been noticing over the last day that there is still a massive assumption/concept of testing being a separate department to dev. Them and Us. Us and Them. Testing isn't a phase, it's just part of the process (I think Elisabeth Hendrickson coined a much catchier version). <– just my thoughts, sounds like there's still "a wall" mindset hanging heavy in the air in the testing community.

Geoff suggests that testers work closely with devs. Help them out. Point out the problems.

EuroSTAR 2010 > Day 2 > Testing & Lean Principles #esconfs


05 – Eurostar > Day 2 > Testing & Lean Principles

After some lengthy introductions, Ingvar Nordström and Beata Karpinska, started talking about the car industry.

Beata briefly introduced the Toyota history.

“lean is a journey” from Mary Poppendieck

Lean is a philosophy, a way of thinking. You can even use Waterfall and apply Lean.

Two cornerstone: Eliminate Waste and Add Value to Your Customer.

Waste is:
waiting, over production, bad quality, Transport, Inventory and many others.

Transportation is unnecessary movement: Lack of communication, Late Handovers, Slow start of execution are elements of waste. Timely information is key to avoiding this late waste in software testing.

Avoid re-working; we need to listen to learn
Set priorities, sit with devs to do exploratory testing, experience based testing are all good ways to avoid waste. I’d suggest starting earlier than that 🙂

Defects are problems between processes <– Not too sure, but interesting thought.

Unfinished preparation, unnecessary features, usability issues, duplication of work are all waste.

Too much documentation is a sign of waste. Only produce what is needed.
Who is the receiver of this documentation.

Brian Marick’s Testing Quadrants is shown and explained.

Conflicts at work, stress, overtime, task switching between projects are all elements of waste.

We need to redefine the process to eliminate waste.

To visualise waste we need to produce a value stream map.

To win the war, choose your battles – Don’t try it all at once. Start small and make it happen.

Ingvar then introduced the principles of Lean via a diagram

Learning is a cornerstone in Lean Thinking. Learn from your mistakes; this needs values and principles in your company to avoid a blame culture.

Move Exploratory Testing to the beginning before we have requirements. This leads to prototypes and better defined requirements. Test conditions can also be defined.

At this point Ingvar is discussing the module test, but he’s losing the audience, people are starting to leave.

Continuous Improvement – important that we do it now. Once a week all team members get together around a white board and focus on what is important.

Act versus React – take care immediately. “Andon” a term used by Toyota when stopping the production line to fix problems.

We all have three jobs:
1. Your ordinary job
2. Teach other
3. Learn from other

Checklist for lean implementation:

  1. Do we add value for our customer
  2. Do we create more output than needed
  3. Are we doing unnecessary tests
  4. Do we act according to principle “right for me”
  5. Do we have uncontrolled waste without eliminating it
  6. Are we aware of improvement  ideas
  7. Continuous improvement, learn from earlier projects
  8. Walk – don’t run
  9. Celebrate success