The Treasure Hunt for a Programmable, Testable Spec

A spec that can’t be tested is a starting pistol in a treasure hunt. The treasure is information, but not any old bit of information – you, as a tester, must get the same information that was given to the programmers.

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Recommended Reading: How to Think About Writing

Oliver Burkeman reviews the basics of thinking about writing.

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New to QA? Don’t Be a Lone Tester

From time to time I teach people some QA basics. I do this at start-up companies, since most established companies have someone in-house to train QA. A couple of times I trained experienced testers who only had to transition to a new technology, but usually I train newbies who were hired to be a lone tester. And one thing I’ve learned from doing this is that it’s a really bad first move for these testers.

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I Wonder That You Will Still Be Writing; Nobody Reads You

Agile got (at least) one thing right: stop writing documents no one’s ever going to read. If you want to honestly assess what will or won’t be read – and therefore what should or shouldn’t be written – you should answer some basic questions.

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Recommended Reading: Tools of the Trade

Tools of the trade, 2014. Everything from bug tracking to HR.

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Don’t Let HR Block Your Next Technical Writer

First let me clarify – I’ve nothing against HR and their involvement in the hiring process. What I object to very specifically are two habits: letting HR choose who gets interviewed, and letting HR do the first interview and veto some of the candidates before they ever meet the technical writing team leader.

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Testing Information Architectures

Usability testing for your information architecture – before you code.

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Do not Hire This Person: Technical Writers Edition

Three things some technical writers say that should serve as a warning sign that you may not want to hire them:

“I only need to understand it at the UI level”.

If you don’t understand how and why things happen, you’re no better than the user. Anyone can read a field label to understand what goes there.

“I don’t proofread.”

Some writers treat proofreading the way some programmers treat testing – as something lesser people should do. It’s the sign of a delusional ego or an unhelpful team member (or both). Note that this is not the same as saying “I’m really bad at proofreading myself”, which is only a problem for writers working on their own.

“I don’t accept client feedback”.

Another ego problem. Obviously some clients are to be ignored – we’ve all met some who gave utterly useless feedback just because they felt it was their duty to say something. But rejecting all client feedback off-hand is another way of saying “I refuse to learn from my mistakes”.

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Do not Hire This Person: QA Edition

Written in collaboration with Efrat Wurzel

Three things some testers say that should serve as a warning sign that you may not want to hire them:

“I can’t understand a feature or start thinking about its tests until I use it”.

Obviously there are some things that will click better when working with the feature. But anyone who says they can’t do anything with a feature until they start working with it – not even with a good design and spec – doesn’t have the imagination and analysing skills for this job.

“I’m not an organised person, I don’t put effort into keeping my tests in order”.

Good luck figuring out what you did and didn’t test, three weeks into a four-week test “sprint”.

“I rely only on developers to understand a feature I’m testing”.

Developers can tell you what the feature does, not what it was intended to do. Testers who don’t understand the gap between these two ideas – and how many different elements go into creating this gap – don’t get how software is developed.

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Recommended Reading: Code Injections Where you Least Expect Them

If you’re testing HTML5 mobile apps, you might want to read about code injections through the bar-code scanner, videos, Bluetooth and more.

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