Better Software Magazine Archive:

Sep/Oct 2002


Surviving the Witch Hunt
By Tony Akins

A witch hunt is the search for whoever let those darned bugs out into the field. How do you stop a witch hunt? The best way is to refocus attention from "someone to blame" to "something to fix." If you focus on what in the process is causing the defects and discuss how to minimize or even eliminate the causes, you have a real chance to turn things around.

Salary Survey 2002: Are You Weathering the Storm?
By Anne Meilof

The results of the third annual STQE magazine/ salary survey give the temperature of the testing industry. Thanks to our readers' continued participation, we now have three years' worth of data and the ability to start looking for trends.

A Look at TeamTrack by TeamShare
By David S. Lee

David Lee's company needed a system to track customer support and development issues—one that had the right combination of tools and the scalability they needed to effectively address their customer needs, as well as their own internal requirements. Here is a discussion of why they chose Team Track, and an evaluation of the tool.

How to Avoid Adaptive Testing Syndrome
By Paul Sixt

Adaptive Testing Syndrome happens when, for various reasons, test team members become blind to the idiosyncrasies of the software and even accept them as a normal part of the design. However, when a different tester, or maybe just a different set of tests, comes in contact with the software, the bugs become painfully obvious. Here's how to diagnose and avoid ATS.

Karl Wiegers on Software Inspections and Peer Reviews
By Karl E. Wiegers

Peer reviews and inspections are among the highest-leverage software quality practices available. Here are some useful sources of guidance on how to perform software inspections and peer reviews, as well as some tools and online resources that can help you jump-start your fledgling review program.

If at First, and Last, You Don't Succeed ...
By Esther Derby

Sometimes, no matter how talented you are and how hard you work, you will not be able to succeed, at least within the constraints you are handed. If your boss says you have to achieve project goals with the resources you have, what can you do? Esther Derby suggests: 1) Start by assuming that a reasonable approach will get reasonable results; 2) If your boss isn't willing or able to hear what you have to say, decide what you are willing to do; and 3) Consider what you might do differently next time.

Project Archaeology
By Andy Schneider

This article aims to show you the rich variety of information that can be used to help you build a good model of the system you are involved with. Some of the areas covered are: the business context; the language; the organizational structure; the culture; and cross-departmental relationships.

Bypassing the GUI
By Brian Marick

Graphical User Interfaces make test automation hard. The problems are well known. You need specialized tools to drive the GUI. Those tools can be confused by the common programming practice of inventing custom user interface controls. When they are used in the simplest way, the tools lead to fragile tests that tend to break en masse when the GUI changes. Making the test resistant to change requires elaborate and sometimes awkward testing frameworks. Learn how to use a scripting interface to get around the GUI problem.

Delivering Unwelcome News to Developers
By Karen N. Johnson

How well you present a defect to a developer can impact when a defect is resolved–or whether it is resolved at all. Deliver the information abruptly or inappropriately, and you run the risk of alienating a person or creating project hot spots that aren't needed. Deliver news too passively, and your report may be discarded. Karen Johnson describes some ways to soften the blow so that your defects are not only acknowledged, but fixed.

A Picture's Worth a Thousand Words
By Elisabeth Hendrickson

Maps are a universal way of describing an area. You use them to plan your route and find your destination. Just as it's a good idea to have a map when traveling, it's a good idea to have a picture of the software you're testing. Elisabeth Hendrickson describes UML, parts maps, flow charts, state diagrams, and more.

A Measured Response
By Mike Cohn

An infinite number of metrics can be applied to various aspects of software development. In fifteen years of managing software development, Mike Cohn has found a handful of metrics that really help him do his job--and keep him cool and confident when the heat is on. Here, he describes product stabilization metrics, programmer quality metrics, customer satisfaction metrics, and complexity metrics.

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