Thursday, October 12, 2006

IQAA: Quality enrichment conference

I've posted about the IQAA before, and I regret that I haven't been able to make it to their talks regularly. There is a bit of a disconnect between the organizers and the members, I think, because the organizers are creating a fair amount of high-quality content, and I'm not sure that the Indy software testing scene really is vibrant enough to appreciate it. Today I'm attending a free seminar given by Dr. Magdy Hanna of the IIST on Software Testing Discipline and Software Testing Management, and it's very good.

The intent was for Dr. Hanna to give two seminars, one in the morning more or less aimed at testers, and one in the afternoon aimed at test managers, but in practice they all sort of collapsed together. The majority of attendees were there for both sessions; which was good, because they ran together pretty much. Dr. Hanna is a good, knowledgable, and confident speaker, and when you have one of those you're guaranteed to run over. We got to hear a little more than half of the practices before lunch, and a couple more afterwards, so what was billed as the "afternoon session" started around 2:00. But it covered basically the remaining practices anyway, and around 3:15 he looked up, said, "How much time do we have left?" and burned through the rest of his slides as if they were a kaleidoscope :) I'll put together a few posts over the next few days on my impressions of the conference and speakers. I'm not going to summarize all of the practices he named; just some of things that made me think. For example,

Practice 1: Requirements are crucial, with the couple of subheaders: You can't test what you don't know, and Users will always change their minds, and this was the point when he went all Steve Yegge on us, and explained how he was opposed to the agile movement. Of course, as is usual in such cases, we find out that he's not actually opposed to the practices of agile, or at least many of them, but only to calling it agile, or something. (I've never been quite clear on what exactly the opposition is to).

I mention this in passing because it seemed to me that those two headers absolutely contradict each other. How do you know what to test, when the users are calling the developers daily with new requirements? But his overall point, I concluded, was that (a) requirements documents should be kept accurate and up-to-date, and (b) they should be your main avenue of communication between developers and testers. I had assumed, when he said he didn't approve of agility, that he wanted nice static requirements docs before testing ever started. This, of course, never happens in the real world. More later.