97 Things Every Programmer Should Know

(Chris Devlin) #1

(^120) 97 Things Every Programmer Should Know

News of the

Weird: Testers Are

Your Friends

Burk Hufnagel

WHETHER THEY CALL THEMSELVES Quality Assurance or Quality Con-
trol, many programmers call them Trouble. In my experience, programmers
often have an adversarial relationship with the people who test their software.
“They’re too picky” and “They want everything perfect” are common com-
plaints. Sound familiar?

I’m not sure why, but I’ve always had a different view of testers. Maybe it’s
because the “tester” at my first job was the company secretary. Margaret was
a very nice lady who kept the office running, and tried to teach a couple of
young programmers how to behave professionally in front of customers. She
also had a gift for finding any bug, no matter how obscure, in mere moments.

Back then, I was working on a program written by an accountant who thought
he was a programmer. Needless to say, it had some serious problems. When I
thought I had a piece straightened out, Margaret would try to use it, and, more
often than not, it would fail in some new way after just a few keystrokes. It
was at times frustrating and embarrassing, but she was such a pleasant person
that I never thought to blame her for making me look bad. Eventually, the day
came when Margaret was able to cleanly start the program, enter an invoice,
print it, and shut it down. I was thrilled. Even better, when we installed it on
our customer’s machine, it all worked. They never saw any problems because
Margaret had helped me find and fix them first.

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