Skip to main content

Tester-driven development? What is the proper utilization of QA?

I was reading about more software development anti-patterns because on Tuesday I'll have to conduct a code review for a particular client. I managed to somehow stumble on to Tester-Driven Development. I honestly thought it was a typo and assumed they meant Test-Driven Development. I started laughing at the fact that there are projects that allow QA to drive the requirements of the application--but hey? Sometimes projects are so terribly managed that it happens!

If you ever find yourself on a project where production-level people (Developers, QA, Designers) are creating the requirements instead of the primary stakeholders, you better take a step back and think about how bad that could turn out. Oh wait, I forgot you could be telepathic and just automagically know what the client wants.

Here's my two cents.

When a web project starts, the respective discipline leads (developer, QA, design, project management, stakeholders) need to figure out what their strategic goals are whether they are long-term or short-term. The reason why we have QA in at the start is to ensure that a lot of the functionality being built is not going to be a bug. Two really good examples I can think of off the top of my head would be scrollbars and IE6 graceful degradation. When running through a website that has a lot of transparencies, rounded corners, and drop shadows in Internet Explorer 6, you're bound to run into a "wat teh fuk" moment.

The best thing to do is to ensure that everyone (even the client) is aware that IE6 is an archaic web browser and doesn't support certain functionality without spending an extensive amount of effort hacking it into the application. This is why we employ graceful degradation on the agreement that there will be some 'weird' things happening for any IE6 users. The application will continue to function normally but there will be quirky things in the view, such as, fonts won't look anti-aliased or drop shadows won't be fully supported or transparencies won't be fully supported. Even Facebook, the biggest social network with over 300+ million members has decided to drop support for IE6. You can use this argument when you're explaining to the client. If they are hard set on supporting IE6, then it will impact both QA and Development time. Ultimately, depending on how complex the application you're trying to build, it could even double your hours just having IE6 being fully supported. Adding to this, you should definitely look into the web traffic metrics to see which browsers their customers are using. If IE6 is a minority, use this to your advantage in your argument towards partially supporting IE6.

Once the client understands that their customers using IE6 are a minority or it just isn't worth it, we can filter that down to the rest of the team. I truly believe that QA is underestimated in all agency work that I've dealt with. Most people above production-level work (project managers and up) just think QA click the application and try to break it. That's probably only 5% of the work they can actually do. Since we're bringing in QA at the start of the project, it allows them to write clear and concise acceptance tests for the requirements, as well as, prepare their automation tools for upcoming features.

Sadly, from what I've seen, they aren't utilized for those roles. They are simply clickers and subject to late hours because defects need to be regressed. If it was up to me, I'd have the whole team test the application--you'd be surprised to know how many project managers don't even know how to use the product they're building.


Popular posts from this blog

TextMate Tutorial: How to add a Strikethrough keybind to your Markdown bundle

Markdown is awesome for quickly generating Readme's on Github. After looking at other projects using the strike tag, I've decided to create a custom keybind for it in my TextMate Markdown bundle. Here's how:

1) Click the + sign on the bottom left and click New Command.
2) Paste this into the editbox and make sure you name your command "Strikethrough".

For the input field, select WORD in the drop down.
For the output field, select "insert as snippet".
As for the keybind, you can totally map it to whatever you're comfortable with but I chose Command-D as it is the same thing in Microsoft Word.


Plenty of Fish - Lessons Learned Meetup

Today, I had the fantastic opportunity of going to a retrospective by Plenty of Fish. As you may know, Plenty of Fish is the largest online dating site and it was all started by a local BCIT graduate named Markus Frind.

Below are notes that were taken on my iPhone. I do apologize as I am continually editing this blogpost.

What is Plenty of Fish? An online dating site.
Why enter the dating market? Back in 2003, it was the only thing that was interesting to build. Markus already knew ASP but wanted to learn more about building web applications with ASP.NET and improve his skills on his resume. 
How do you deal with the network effects problem? In the early days, Plenty of Fish gained traction through Vancouver and Toronto.  There wasn't any silver bullet or magic around it -- Plenty of Fish heavily relied on organic user growth and SEO. The focus was to retain users more than go out and acquire new ones.
What are some early challenges you faced? Markus actually ended up doing every…

World of Warcraft Ninjalist addon: version 0.1 coming along quite nicely

After toying around with more GUI related issues in World of Warcraft's API, I've decided to take a totally different direction. Originally when I architected this addon, I knew in my mind it would be a super simple Console application that a user could easily paste in a name and add it to the database; however, why stop there?

After discovering AceGUI, I can easily start developing UI components in no time! As of right now, I've got it saving data in between game sessions--the interesting part will come when I'll have to develop the web service that will parse the SavedVariable.lua, eliminate duplicate entries, as well as, do a huge merge between their copy and whats on the server's (per realm basis of course).

Here's a screen shot of the responses when adding new Ninjas to your list:
When a user clicks add after entering a name in the textbox, it'll go ahead and add that person to the ninjalist tagging the user's realm and current date/time. Someday, I…