Archive for April, 2007

… considered harmful

Jeff Overbey has an extensive list of papers about things computer scientists consider harmful. With links, in many cases.

Test idea cheat sheet

Elisabeth Hendrickson has a nice cheat sheet that will help you get ideas for tests.

The tenth time you say it, decide that it’s wrong

That title seems like a good motto in general. Here’s a specific instance.

I was on a short consulting trip recently. We talked about Fit. I said the two things that I’ve said to clients at least ten times:

“I recommend using Fit when the product director wants to read the tests or when the data is naturally tabular. If the product director doesn’t care or if the test is a do-this-do-that-check-this type test, I’d rather you used xUnit.”

“There are no decent HTML editors. The most tolerable I’ve found is OpenOffice, but they’re all a pain when you want to modify tables.”

There’s a contradiction here. If the product director doesn’t care, why would you write a tabular test in HTML? Because using xUnit means you have to keep columns aligned, and that’s a pain. So use HTML and have the browser line up the columns. But I just said that editing HTML is also a pain. And I never gave much thought to which is the greater pain.


Stepping in the same river many times

This is a retitled version of my SPA 2007 talk, “Monasticism for the Married”. It’s an encouragement to think of things as bundles of actions, framed by some alarm about the state of Agile.

Clearly reason was the goal here, and with Mark and Grace calmly looking on, it struck me just how good men are at agreeing exactly what “reason” is, how it should be pursued, and at what cost achieved.

—Thomas H. Cook, The Cloud of Unknowing

I’m intensely aware that at this time tomorrow, you’ll be hearing from Sir Tony Hoare, one of my heroes when I first got into this field. When I noticed him on the programme, I reread his 1980 Turing Award lecture, which contains this famous quote:

I conclude that there are two ways of constructing a software design: One way is to make it so simple that there are obviously no deficiencies and the other way is to make it so complicated that there are no obvious deficiencies.

When I was young I wanted nothing more than to pursue that first way, but looking back I see that I haven’t. In such a case, the only honorable thing to do is to blame someone else:



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