Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Metaautomation and the Death of Test, part 2: the Quality Profession

One of the reason you want to keep testers around is that their motivations are very different than the devs. Devs want to check in working code, to earn their magnetic ball toys and the esteem of their peers. Testers want to write highly actionable automation – the topic of this blog – and measure quality so the team can ship the code, but especially to find good bugs, to earn their wooden puzzle toys and the esteem of their peers.

Here’s my post on the Metaautomation meme for describing how automation can provide the best value for the SDLC (software development lifecycle).

Automation is just part of the quality picture, but an important one. Many years ago, all STE’s at Microsoft were encouraged to become SDETs – i.e. to learn how to automate the product - because Microsoft recognized the importance of having quickly and accurately repeatable regression of product behavior.

Now, if automating the product – make it do stuff repeatedly! – is all there is, then it’s reasonable to suppose that devs can take a little time out of their normal duties to automate the product. But of course, that takes time – sometimes a surprising amount of time – and they have to maintain the automation as well, or just ignore it when it starts failing, which makes it worse than useless.

The idea that all you have to do it simple automation, with no care towards making failures actionable, is myopic IMO (although, attractive perhaps to the business analyst). I address this in more detail here

This post addresses the importance of testing to the SDLC the SDLC

This post is about managing for strong, actionable automation and looking forward to second-order metaautomation

Not all of these techniques are completely new. Some are practiced in corners of Microsoft, and (I’m told) Amazon. The metaautomation meme just makes it easier to describe and communicate how far the team can (and in some cases, should) go to make the quality process more powerful.

Metaautomation is the part of the test profession that is expressed in automation.


Are there other labels that people use to describe what I call first- and second-order metaautomation? Please comment below and I will respond.

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