Chapter 5. How to Do a Great Job Testing

IF YOUR SOFTWARE DOESN’T work, you won’t sell it. Worse, you’ll be embarrassed by it. This is why I apply the High School Embarrassment Test (HSET™) to any product I want to ship. The HSET works because high school did deep psychological damage to most of us and left behind hormone-based scars that industries like Hollywood have mined to great effect. You can leverage these scars as well. All you need to do is ask yourself: am I sure I won’t be embarrassed when an old high school friend sees my product? That’s all there is to the HSET.

The HSET helps ensure that your team is happy. Tom DeMarco and Timothy Lister point out in their book Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams (Dorset House) that one of the best ways to destroy your team is to ask them to ship something they aren’t proud of. Remember, your engineering team members have old high school buddies too. You need to ensure that your team isn’t embarrassed.

So, how do you ensure that the software you ship does not embarrass you? There are eight major steps you can take that will have a substantial impact on the quality of your shipping product:

  1. Insist on test-driven development.

  2. Build a testing team around a great test lead.

  3. Review your test plan and test cases personally.

  4. Automate testing.

  5. Dogfood religiously.

  6. Have a big bug bash.

  7. Triage your bugs diligently.

  8. Establish trusted testers as a last line of defense.

If you do these eight things, you’ll be well on your way to shipping a great product. ...

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