26 November 2010

Software testing

I have to admit it, I suck at software testing. I do believe in my naive notion of test-driven design, i.e. write the tests first and the program later. My problem is that I just don't have the skills of programming test cases.
Example: I wrote about the "walking skeleton" design principle some days ago.One could write a suitable set of test cases to ensure that the skeleton, with it's various units, always walks. The tests should automatically run before you check in more elaborate units, with more features in them. If the unit doesn't pass you know that you will have integration problems.

There are a lot of resources on testing out there, for example I got an introduction on creating JUnit test cases for Java programs from a colleague. Since I'm trying to learn Erlang I should probably look into EUNIT.
You should also read the blog thoughts from the test eye.

I started working with system integration testing at Volvo Cars many years ago. I learned the basics of test planning, writing test cases and report test results then. Probably very outdated since both it was ten years ago and since the automotive industry has never been on the cutting edge of software development practices. We still have a notion that a specification should be written so that it can easily be tested:
"This easily results in requirements being quantified and often in a contractual style, instead of describing the real needs and desires."
There are many other ways of Synthesizing Test Ideas!

So if experts on testing are open to the notion of having specifications focusing on understanding and real needs, why are we still clinging to contractual requirements ? Is it because of so much of the coding is outsourced in the autotmotive industry?

If one aspires to be a software architect I think working with verification & validation (testing) is a good starting point. You learn a lot about good, and bad, design when you are exposed to the errors and unintended behaviour in a system and the effects they have.

1 comment:

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