Monday, 13 February 2012

The new zombie wave

When I'm off-duty from being The Terminator on the STC and want to switch off then something like Plants v Zombies is good. Just when you think you've finished a level though a message comes up
"A Huge Wave Of Zombies Is Approaching"

I was reminded of this when browsing the discussions on Linked In.
( I should stay away, a recent Tweet called them "Dante's Infernal LinkedIn Testing Group" )
Seems the 'test is dead' meme of last year might be activating a fresh new wave of test zombies.

A question was posed:

Is it possible to fully automate all QA and testing?
I have heard differing opinions on this topic of late. So I'm wondering if there's any general consensus on this - Is it realistically possible to lead a departmental Company wide transition from Manual testing to 100% Automation Testing? And if not, why not?

A little more probing about this revealed this gem:

recently during a discussion with a client of mine (a Test Manager), he stated that the goal within his organisation was to achieve 100% automation across all software projects, and furthermore, that they had already achieved this on some of their web projects by firstly scrapping HP QTP and moving to a mixture of Selenium and Cucumber, and secondly, by employing dedicated Software Developers specifically to maintain and develop the automation frameworks and scripts

and more probing
( a bit like the 5 Why's - or descending further into Dantes Inferno )

The reason this topic came up initially was that the client in question had attended a talk with James Whittaker (Test Director at Google) who asserted that apparently Google have done away with the idea of a Test Analyst or QA Analyst. Instead they have started to use this idea of having Software Engineers in Test, as opposed to dedicated 'Testers' in the traditional sense. Apparently, taking this approach has led to the idea that it is possible to automate 100%

Lanette Creamer (a.k.a. Testy Redhead) seems to have had a similar experience

So we move on from having zombie testers writing manual test cases with managers making sure the count per day is the Industry Best Practice norm to a new wave of testers writing their Selenium scripts making sure they make their count of page objects written per day.
(if you watch the video linked to in Lanette's post the presenter says they have 3000 tests and asks if that is a lot, what sort of numbers do other people have )

Test forums used to populated with requests for test case templates, now it's requests for help because their Selenium test to go to Google and check that searching for "tutorial" is failing at the first step and throwing an exception.

Plus ca change
Plus c'est la meme chose
The more that things change,
The more they stay the same.

Circumstances, Rush

( as I was writing this post I noticed another blog post about unthinking Zombie testers - this one from Brent Jensen. At least the Zombies are being noticed - and I finished my game so the Zombies can be defeated )


testastic said...

Microsoft went through this wave about 10 years ago. It's insidious.

I like the PvZ metaphor. This next wave will still have Test Zombies, but it will have Automation Zombies and Beancounter Zombies.

100% automation on Web UI?!?

Those who think that a good idea, better have a *lot* of money set aside for the maintenance cost later.

Truly frightening.

Matthew said...

Good post, Phil, I have little to add.

One thing that comes to mind: This approach (100% test automation "just like google") is also disingenuous, or, to be charitable, a large misunderstanding.

While it's true that Google does not have manual testers (type onto keyboard) as /employees/ per se, they are a very, very large customer of uTest, for whom they use contracted test services.

So while some teams at google many not have Full-time-employee 'testers', they certainly have testers!

Teams that ignore this reality do so at their own peril.

Phil said...

@Matt - thanks for the comment. Problem is only a few people know the full story and you have all these others only going by the headlines and not thinking

@Brent - thanks, it can be scary finding out what others are doing out there

Simon Morley said...

Systems Thinking hat: There's a good subject for a diagram of effects there...

Initial message (from JW)
1 Taken as gospel
2 Taken out of context
3 Misheard
3.1 Misheard Message taken as gospel
3.2 Taken out of context
3.3 ...
4 Misunderstood
- etc, etc

Wait - I think I've just written the plot line for the Life of Brian.....

Monty Python explains the madness in software testing yet again!

Blessed are the cheesemakers!

David Greenlees said...
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David Greenlees said...

Nice Phil... I want to see them automate this...


Johan Jonasson said...
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Johan Jonasson said...

I find the whole idea of 100% test automation ridiculous (and I too need to stay away from LinkedIn... it's not good for my blood pressure.)

What are the proponents of this idea trying to cover with their tests? What does their model of "everything" (100%) look like that their tests can supposedly be automated to cover?

Too much focus on covering, too little on discovering. That's where I come out.

Nice post though. I enjoyed the analogy. :-)

Calkelpdiver said...

You've already seen my posts/responses on that thread. Yeesch!!!!

It's like the old B-Horror movies, and we can call this one "The Automation Zombies from Space that ate my brain". Or "How I learned to appreciate Plan 9 from Outer Space".