Exploration Through Example

Example-driven development, Agile testing, context-driven testing, Agile programming, Ruby, and other things of interest to Brian Marick
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Thu, 27 Nov 2003

Coding standards (and a little on metaphors)

Somewhere around 1983, I shot my mouth off one time too many and found myself appointed QA Manager for a startup. I'm sure I would have been ineffectual no matter what - I didn't have the technical credibility nor personal skills for the job.

The moment I realized I was doomed was probably in the middle of a rambunctious company-wide argument about a coding standard. I still have bad dreams about where to put the curly braces in C code.

Bill Caputo has a posting on coding standards. What I'll remember from it is a slogan I just made up:

Coding standards are about the alignment of teams, not the consistency of code.

Where were you when I needed you, Bill?

I also quite like Bill's earlier posting about consistency. My thoughts on consistency and completeness are moving in an odd direction, it seems. For example, I'm fond of Lakoff and Johnson's thesis that reasoning is metaphorical. So I think that our understanding of Understanding is freighted with the metaphor UNDERSTANDING IS SEEING. That changes the way we look for (ahem) understanding.

Some time ago, I started wondering why I have such a visceral sense of whether a system of thought is complete and consistent. Some of them simply seem whole, and that feeling is important to me. Why? Lakoff and Johnson say, "We are physical beings, bounded and set off from the rest of the world by the surface of our skins... Each of us is a container, with a bounding surface and an in-out orientation." (p. 29) Quite a lot of reasoning is based on metaphors of the form X IS A CONTAINER, and it seems like I'm using the CONCEPTUAL SYSTEM IS A CONTAINER metaphor. And I think others are, too.

But why should a conceptual system be a container? Why should it have an inside and an outside? So I'm actively on the lookout for systems that are partial, fuzzy, inconsistent - but nevertheless useful.

## Posted at 12:23 in category /misc [permalink] [top]

Esther Derby on influence

Something from Esther.

I know her premise, but I too often forget it in the heat of the moment. Maybe if I write it 500 times, it will become a habit. I'll start with one time:

"My premise is that influence depends on:

  1. having a relationship

  2. understanding the other persons interests and concerns

  3. being willing to state your concerns in terms that relate to the other persons interests and concerns

  4. looking for a mutually beneficial outcome - influence isn't about getting someone else to act against their own best interest"

## Posted at 10:12 in category /misc [permalink] [top]

James Bach's Blog

James Bach, tester extraordinaire, has a blog now. Two nice heuristics:
  1. "The obvious leads to the oblivious, and that makes me nervious."

  2. "When a specification is silent about a matter that seems important, that's probably a risk area. "

## Posted at 09:42 in category /testing [permalink] [top]

About Brian Marick
I consult mainly on Agile software development, with a special focus on how testing fits in.

Contact me here: marick@exampler.com.




Agile Testing Directions
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Working your way out of the automated GUI testing tarpit
  1. Three ways of writing the same test
  2. A test should deduce its setup path
  3. Convert the suite one failure at a time
  4. You should be able to get to any page in one step
  5. Extract fast tests about single pages
  6. Link checking without clicking on links
  7. Workflow tests remain GUI tests
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Design-Driven Test-Driven Design
Creating a test
Making it (barely) run
Views and presenters appear
Hooking up the real GUI


Popular Articles
A roadmap for testing on an agile project: When consulting on testing in Agile projects, I like to call this plan "what I'm biased toward."

Tacit knowledge: Experts often have no theory of their work. They simply perform skillfully.

Process and personality: Every article on methodology implicitly begins "Let's talk about me."


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