How to Avoid Mistakes in Test Automation: An Interview with Dorothy Graham


In this interview, Dorothy Graham, a software test consultant and speaker at STAREAST, covers her upcoming keynote. She goes into detail about the differences between manual and automated testing, as well as explains some of the key blunders testers often run into. 

Josiah Renaudin: Today I'm joined by Dorothy Graham, a software test consultant and speaker at STAREAST. Dorothy, thank you very much for joining us.

Dorothy Graham: Thank you for the interview.

Josiah Renaudin: No problem at all. First, could you just tell us just a bit about your experience in the industry?

Dorothy Graham: Well, how long have you got? I've been in the industry for quite a long time. My first job—I got into testing because my first job, I was put into a test group. This was after I left university with a master's degree in math. I was then put into a test group and my job was to write two testing tools. This was at Bell Labs in the States; I'm originally from Michigan.

In the meantime, I had met my husband, who's British, so we emigrated to the UK and I worked as a developer for seven years on police command and control systems for a company called Ferranti over here. Then I decided to get into training and then went independent and have always specialized in testing, I think because my first job was in testing; when I had a job as a developer and then team leader, testing was important to me, much to the surprise of some of my colleagues at the time.

That's basically how I got into testing and test automation. As an independent, then I worked for the National Computing Center, which was a government body to promote the use of computers way back in the '70s and '80s, and I wrote for some publications to do with testing tools back then. I wrote the first testing tools guides that were published in the UK, and then I found out about one that SQE published and it was very interesting getting together with the author of that one.

Josiah Renaudin: I'm a big Ohio State fan, so I'll overlook the Michigan thing, but I do have a question relating to ... You said that you've done a lot of testing in the UK. Have you noticed a big difference between testing in the UK and testing in the US? Is it a different market or are they very similar?

Dorothy Graham: There are more similarities than differences. I mean, when I first started out, I remember vividly the first testing conference I ever went to, which was before SQE started the STAR Conferences, by the way. It was in 1991 and we had recently formed a group in the UK called the Special Interest Group in Software Testing, where people from the UK got together about four times a year to talk about testing. It was wonderful to find other people who liked testing, at the time; no social media, of course, at this time.

Josiah Renaudin: Yes.

Dorothy Graham: Coming to the conference—which was run by Dave and Bill from SQE, but was promoted by the US Professional Development Institute and then the STAR Conferences started the year after that—it was just a revelation to ... The thing that struck me the most was that, you know, suffering from the same problems that we are; we aren't that different. I expected, I think, things to be a lot more advanced over in the States, but it was very much the same.

Josiah Renaudin: Your upcoming keynote focuses on the blunders often found within test automation. Is it fair to say that this topic was born out of experience? How often have you seen people make very bad moves when it comes to test automation?

User Comments

sharene walker's picture

She gave a really good presentation at STAREAST 2015. Is the presentation posted on STICKYMINDS?

May 7, 2015 - 9:23am
Josiah Renaudin's picture

The presentation will be posted on StickyMinds at a later date! You should have an email detailing how to access it on demand, though, if you signed up for virtual. 

May 8, 2015 - 10:12am

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