Saturday, January 14, 2006

Revenge of the Nerds?

It looks like it at Mini's place as the employees, anonymous though they maybe, are coming out in force to "rag on the rich." It almost seems like an uprising or the prelude to a coup.

Damn partners

It gets really heated as the eternal "Dev vs. Test" argument came back from the dead. It was exacerbated this time by the authors question to MSers ( of which he was once ) about the initiative to change over from STEs to SDETs. Sevral current SDETs chimed in with remarks such as;

As an SDET at Microsoft my job seemed to be driving over a bridge that is being built from both ends and in the middle across a pool of quicksand during a hurricane.

Telling people they're building in quicksand will get you blacklisted or looked at like you're crazy. Everyone complains about the rain, but nobody talks about how the wind keeps blowing everything over. What they want from you is trendlines on graphs showing that the concrete and the cabling is secure and a lot of entered bugs about how the tensile strengths of the cabling, places where the paint is mismatched, or the concrete is chipped. You alternate between snickering and sobbing when the middle of the bridge sinks another foot. Every once in a while you watch them lower both ends of the bridge to match the middle, and you yell uselessly that you think the ends are pointing in different directions.


This is another sad story. Some moron from high-up, decided to get rid of all the STEs in the hopes of replacing their manual work with test automation. Predictably this initiative has failed. Big Time!

Now we have a test team WITHOUT any testers. Yeah! Don't blink your eyes. You read it right. In the absence of STEs/Testers, we (the SDETs) find ourselves devoting more and more time to Non-Automation related work - manual testing, bug verification, bug closing, lab installations yada yada.

To answer your question - my responsibilities are not clearly sketched. Am I a dev who writes test automation code? Am I a manual tester? I do not know. Go ask my manager.

Scathing indictments indeed as yet another initiative is shot down from the inside. How can people be passionate if they are being abused? WHat amazing event could have occurred to force mgmt to screw everybody? Interesting questions, but no answer is likely as the billions of dollars generated have created billions of obstacles for the countless future employees who may have different social\cultural viewpoints as the current mgmt. Even reasonable arguments presented by those who disagreed with my viewpoint bolstered the opinion that SDETs are not STEs are not SDEs;

That's a bit much- you have nothing to perform QA on without code being written.

That being said...people are nuts if they think writing automation code equates to being a good tester.

Looking at this link shows the type of problem that plagues MS right now;

My first real software job was at Microsoft; a company that is not exactly famous for its high quality code, but which does nonetheless hire a large number of software testers. So I had sort of assumed that every software operation had testers.

Many do. But a surprising number do not have testers. In fact, a lot of software teams don't even believe in testing.

You would think that after all the Quality mania of the 80s, with all kinds of meaningless international "quality" certifications like ISO-9000 and buzzwords like "six-sigma", managers today would understand that having high quality products makes good business sense. In fact, they do. Most have managed to get this through their heads. But they still come up with lots of reasons not to have software testers, all of which are wrong.

I hope I can explain to you why these ideas are wrong. If you're in a hurry, skip the rest of this article, and go out and hire one full-time tester for every two full-time programmers on your team.

Here are the most common boo-hoo excuses I've heard for not hiring testers:

Wow, no wonder the initiative isn't working. Many devs and other feel that test is just an annoyance and that testers don't need to have certificatons that production people have;

Amazing. I thought that kind of hubris was limited to devs.

Test (or QC, rather) does not determine the original quality of the design or code nor does it fix defects found. Test also does not make the final go/no-go decision (or should not, unless we want responsibility for any quality issues that we had no part in causing in the first place!).

All we really can do is evaluate the product, report quality issues and suffer quietly in endless test pass cycles at hands of the failures of the PM and dev teams. (At least, until we can transform test from QC to QA+QC and shoulder part of the responsibility for the creation of the product ourselves.)

Of course, this didn't go on for long before mighty "Who daPunk" himself chimed in and requested that the "Test vs. Dev" argument shouldn't be awakened. I for one have done both and know whereof I speak. I even tried to do both at the same time but found that it IS NOT POSSIBLE;

The comments are sort of getting into a back-and-forth unproductive state. Just when I was thinking about a new post of dev vs. pm vs. test.

TheKhalif: now that you have your own blog back and running, I recommend you follow-up there regarding your thoughts and continue the conversation in your comment stream. Feel free to post the URL here should you decide to do so.

Or if you link directly to this particular post, it should automagically show up at the bottom.

Et voila. I wondr if he'll let my next post go through. Probably not, but one individual seems to place some importance on my comments at mini's;

Making devs do MCSE exams is about the dumbest thing I've heard. All it would achieve is in slipping ship dates. It's like making a Boeing wheel engineer pass a 747 flight exam. The pilot doesn't know (or need to know) the inner workings of the wheel, nor does the engineer need to know how to fly the plane.

My increasing feeling is that TheKhalif is to Mini what Christopher Coulter is to Scoble.
It's all about the signal to noise ratio... Some day we'll get an RSS feed enabling you to blank out the usual suspect comments. But right now, I'd give my lunch for a feed on blogger to blank out comments I've read before. Deja vu is a very common experience here...

God, I love this job. And to think I almost missed all of this by going into Mechanical Engineering. In 5 years I have gone from a guy who kept getting Runtime Error -5 to being able to create script languages and actually determining when a State pattern shoud be used vs. a Strategy, vs a Builder.

Anyway, I don't really expect a lot of movement on this blog, it is just turning out to be at least a little fun. A couple of posts ago I even got my first troll. He proceeded to tell me how much my content sucked and the like, but at least he couldn't say I didn't know what I was talking about.

As one of favorite lines goes, It's Good to be the King!

I don't expect the Test vs dev thread to go away for awhile and it will be interesting to see if anyone picks up on how big a problem such a state really is. I mean as I said before, "In the end, everyone's on the same team."


Anonymous said...

Before I interviewed with Microsoft, I thought that everyone there must be a complete moron because only idiots would produce software as buggy as Windows 95.

I was surprised to find that many of the individuals were quite bright, but management decisions sacrificed quality for fast release schedules.

Microsoft is at a major turning point. It is becoming a mature company and there is going to be significant pain for the rank and file for several years while it figures out what type of company it wants to be and how to be that.

In the meantime, dev vs. test vs. pm vs. leads/managers/review scores/etc. conflicts that used to feed the competitive juices now feed growing levels of dysfunction.

I will be staying away from that asylum for a while.

TheKhalif said...

That was definitely one of the reasons that I left. I got tired of tryign to figure out what other than hard work would get me ahead.
I was a major cog in the delivery of most of the Windows XP components and got nothng for it except excuses.

Matt Farham said...

so if you were a major cog in most XP components, you must have been in a pretty senior/wide-ranging architectural role given the level required to be in a position to have visibility of these components, let alone be a cog in their development. not your typical SDE blackbox role which you seem to allude to. do you have delusions of your own grandeur, or did you have such a wide-ranging position as I surmise is required?

just wondering, in order to help me put your posts in a proper context

TheKhalif said...

so if you were a major cog in most XP components, you must have been in a pretty senior/wide-ranging architectural role given the level required to be in a position to have visibility of these components, let alone be a cog in their development.

No I was a lab rat nobody who just basically directed traffic on NTSELF while working in HW and Management.