Exploration Through Example

Example-driven development, Agile testing, context-driven testing, Agile programming, Ruby, and other things of interest to Brian Marick
191.8 167.2 186.2 183.6 184.0 183.2 184.6

Thu, 03 Mar 2005

A last call for authors

Because of my writing and consulting load, I'm going to scale back on my editing for Better Software magazine. As soon as possible, I'll be working on one article per issue.

In the past, I've been more or less guided by an editorial calendar, looking for articles on certain topics. In the future, I'll be looking for articles on any relevant topic (but keeping in mind the need to have balance over an entire year). What I'm looking to help produce is a steady stream of the kind of articles I keep telling clients they should read. Those usually fall into two categories:

  1. Gathering Tide articles introduce early mainstream people (Geoffrey Moore's pragmatists) to ideas and techniques that have been proven out by the early adopters (Moore's visionaries). Jeffrey Fredrick's recent article on continuous integration is an example. Continuous integration isn't that big a deal any more: CruiseControl is solid, a lot of people know how to use it, people who don't can go to a book (Mike Clark's Pragmatic Project Automation) to find out, and there are articles (like Fredrick's) that give beginners important tips so that they don't have to learn them painfully themselves. Those are the ingredients that reassure pragmatists that it's time to adopt the new idea. I want articles that tell pragmatists of an idea they haven't heard of yet, and tell them in a persuasive enough way that they give it a try - or at least investigate further.

  2. Try This At Work articles are for people who want specific techniques, explained well, that they can put into practice soon. My own article about using Ruby to test a product with a SOAP interface is an example.

So if you have an idea for an article, contact me. Articles can be of two lengths. Feature articles are 2500-3000 words (which is too short to treat anything but the narrowest topic in depth). Front Line articles are 1200-1500 words. They tell a story of something you did that you learned from. They'll typically start with the story, tell the specific lesson, and maybe generalize out from there.

## Posted at 21:13 in category /misc [permalink] [top]

Ten most influential computer books of the past ten years

I was asked to make a list of the above. My first reaction was "How should I know?" But then I figured I could at least list books that I believe have been influential in my circles. Here they are.

    Design Patterns by Gamma, Helm, Johnson, and Vlissides (1995)
    Although the true publication date puts it too early for this list, I'm going to include it because it marks the beginning of an important trend: that of programmers drawing attention to what they repeatedly do, on a rather small scale. It's the beginning of a shift away from grand theorizing to observation on the ground. It laid the groundwork for...
    Refactoring, by Martin Fowler (1999)
    What an absurd idea: a catalog of how to change code so it does the same thing as it did before. But this book led to refactoring IDEs, which have given programmers enormous power to shape programs like a potter shapes clay. It also made a revolutionary claim: it's good to do things over.
    The Pragmatic Programmer: from Journeyman to Master, by Andy Hunt and Dave Thomas (1999)
    Once, people really did think that programmers needed to know only programming and design languages plus a few big ideas. (Build software like bridges!) Book like those above chipped away at that. This book capped the trend by unequivocally treating programming as a craft. We need no longer long to be engineers.
    Extreme Programming Explained: Embrace Change, by Kent Beck (1st edition 1999)
    This book grew out of the same trend, but strongly emphasized two additional ideas: that programming is a social activity, and that programmers gain freedom by shaping themselves and the code in response to the arbitrary demands of the business. It also spurred the coalescing of a variety of underground methods into a visible alternative to conventional software development.
    Agile Software Development, by Alistair Cockburn (2001)
    The best summing-up of what the Agile methods have in common, concentrating on the social. Many people who haven't read the book have been infected by ideas someone else learned from it.
    Programming Perl, by Larry Wall, Tom Christiansen, Jon Orwant (2000, 3d edition)
    This book's influence is tightly tied up with the influence of Perl itself, which allowed many nonprogrammers (like testers) to automate what they otherwise wouldn't have, blurred the boundaries between systems and quick 'n' dirty scripts, and paved the way for a reconsideration of dynamically typed languages that unashamedly favor programmer power over execution speed.
    Working Effectively With Legacy Code, by Michael Feathers (2004)
    Relentlessly practical, "WELC" is, to my knowledge, the first book to successfully attack the problem of how to shape programs that have already hardened into an ugly and unmaintainable form. Just published, it hasn't had time to be hugely influential, but it will be.
    Lessons Learned in Software Testing, by Cem Kaner, James Bach, and Bret Pettichord(2001)
    This is the testing book for non-testers to read. It treats software testing as it is, not as it should be - and it shows that testing as it is, if treated seriously, can be very good indeed.
    UML Distilled, by Martin Fowler (1st edition 1997)
    A wonderful example of telling less than you know, this book is the one for the person who wants UML as part of her toolkit, but doesn't intend to make a way of life out of it. I've heard that its unexpectedly good sales made thin computer books respectable again, reason enough for inclusion on this list.
    Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs (1996, 2nd edition)
    OK, this is cheating, since only the second edition was published within the last ten years. But it's an enduring description of how simple, powerful ideas build upon themselves - something easy to forget, but the reason computers are both so marvelous and so useful.

(I distrust lists with ten items. I always suspect the author squeezed something out, or strained to come up with a last item, just to hit that magic number. By coincidence, I really listed ten, first try.)

## Posted at 20:07 in category /misc [permalink] [top]

More on Fit style

Jim Shore has some thoughts about my earlier posting on Fit style. I'm intrigued by the idea of using, uh, relational verbs like "is" and "has" to make Fit statements look more like they're for understanding than for testing.

## Posted at 20:03 in category /fit [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
Tests and examples
Technology-facing programmer support
Business-facing team support
Business-facing product critiques
Technology-facing product critiques
Testers on agile projects

Permalink to this list


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
Permalink to this list


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."


Related Weblogs

Wayne Allen
James Bach
Laurent Bossavit
William Caputo
Mike Clark
Rachel Davies
Esther Derby
Michael Feathers
Developer Testing
Chad Fowler
Martin Fowler
Alan Francis
Elisabeth Hendrickson
Grig Gheorghiu
Andy Hunt
Ben Hyde
Ron Jeffries
Jonathan Kohl
Dave Liebreich
Jeff Patton
Bret Pettichord
Hiring Johanna Rothman
Managing Johanna Rothman
Kevin Rutherford
Christian Sepulveda
James Shore
Jeff Sutherland
Pragmatic Dave Thomas
Glenn Vanderburg
Greg Vaughn
Eugene Wallingford
Jim Weirich


Where to Find Me

Software Practice Advancement


All of 2006
All of 2005
All of 2004
All of 2003



Agile Alliance Logo