- Show your work early and often.
- Improve after receiving feedback.
- Repeat from step 1.
Sorry for not writing yesterday. My schedule did not allow it. I refrained from posting anything since it wouldn’t have been of sufficient quality for you.
On Monday I tried something new. I recorded the content of the newsletter as a video and posted it to YouTube and LinkedIn. While it didn’t exactly blow up, I am happy and excited about these changes. I want to try to stick with this. Today I switched things up. I first recorded the video, of which I’ve embedded a link to below, and then wrote the newsletter.
The subject says it already: Delete all your tests!
You don’t need test management. You develop web applications. Your job is not rocket science. It’s demanding, and you are doing a fantastic part shipping features and making customers happy. Who needs test management to do that, right?
Let’s try three different points of view on this:
The software developer’s Pov
You code and you write tests, even perhaps before writing application code? Different project managers come to you with their projects and ask you to be part of the team. You have a reputation with them that you are able to ship. You have your hands in several projects and can choose which ones you would like to work on. Your manager sets up an appointment for the yearly review. You want to ask for a raise. On what ground should you get your raise? Because other employees value you and your work? Because of your reputation?
On Friday I gave you a very quick intro on how you could increase your test coverage and confidence for an application that has no tests. You can consider this the quick and dirty approach that works, when you have little time and just want to start somewhere.
Perhaps you should start at an earlier point. A proper way to start the journey to testing software is the state the question
Why do we test software?
In an earlier email I asked you on your opinions as to what you would like to read more about. A bit like a “chose-your-own-adventure” style newsletter. BTW: Did you see that show on Netflix, where you can decide how the story unfolds? This was excellent. Although the nerd in me sees many ways how it was confusing for the user and how it could have been even better. But for a TV show? Wow, I am excited that dared to do that!
Anyway, the majority of the answers indicated that you would like to read something about testing strategies.
If you want to measure the complexity of your software, there is a lot of software, tools and software-as-a-service offerings available. These options can seem daunting and have a lot of onboarding time (the time it takes you to understand how to use them and get meaningful results).
If none of these things work for you, don’t despair. There is a simple way to get a high-level view on the complexity of your software. And it’s language-agnostic. It doesn’t care whether you write CSS, Ruby, Java or something else.
I wanted to add something to the topic from two days ago: Quality in the eyes of your users.
There is a thing I did not mention. A practice that could help you and your team achieve a higher quality of your products:
In computing, an interface is a shared boundary across which two or more separate components of a computer system exchange information. (Source: Wikipedia.org)
You develop a web application that has a frontend for the users and a backend for the business logic and the data persistence. (This is a simplification, bear with me for a second.) Your frontend accesses the data from the backend through an API that the backend provides. This is the first interface. It’s right there in its name Application Programming Interface. But let’s ignore that one for another second. How does your frontend consume the API? Did you wrap the calls to the API in its own class in the frontend?
I bet that most people reading this won’t have UAT or QA. So what could you do to still achieve quality in the eyes of your users?
Yours users will spend more time with your software, like it and recommend it more, when they are happy using it. If we’re honest it might even be enough to make them not dislike the software. There is so much crap software out there, that people use to get their job done, that the bar is pretty low.
During the last months I wrote a lot about quality and how to develop high-quality software. These letters dealt with topics like linting your code, testing and documenting it. I also wrote about the different perspectives and motives that might exist in your team.
But there is one view that I omitted more or less: The external view of your customers. They expect to receive and use your software. They expect it to be without bugs and to fulfill the role they “hired it for”.
I am an expert in writing and working with Ruby and Ruby on Rails. But today I was in a fortunate position to realise something: By now, I am language-agnostic. With one of my current clients, I am working with Node.js and Angular. There’s even some PHP in there. My client knew that I haven’t worked with any of these technologies before. Yet they wanted to have me anyway. Even for a price that was above their initial budget.
Today I want to share a small little idea with you. An idea that can have grave consequences if misregarded:
When you schedule a meeting with your team, also share with the team who is responsible for taking minutes/notes. One person has to be responsible for that.
Since I strongly believe that you can only achieve high-quality work if you trust your teammates, I am trying something today. I trust you.
I will show you a skeleton in my closet.
Over the weekend I had (kind of) a conversation with a good friend. The topic revolved around doing the work on software projects, and how that is sometimes harder to do in a right way. Because of external factors, or because of company policy. In essence, this creates frustration. Probably nothing new there for you.
If you want to run a marathon, you have to train for it. Very few people can do that without deliberate training. You have to run for many kilometers consistently and do speed and interval training in between. If you let your training slip, it means your performance on race day will be worse.
I believe in improving the quality of your software projects. If you want to improve something, you have to measure it first. That idea was introduced by Peter Drucker, the famous management book author.
Now if I ask you, what metrics you could measure about your code quality, would you have an answer?
I spent the day at a new client’s office. They hired my to do a complete code quality and security audit for their website and shop system. They are rebuilding and relaunching it. The app is built using Ruby on Rails.
From the feedback I got for my questions and letters regarding the quality of software projects, I can tell you one metric software developers look for.
Commenting code and documenting it has been a topic in these letters already. I linked to resources on how to write docs etc. For the future, this might not be necessary anymore. Because you can have a machine write the comments for you. There is a research project done by Chinese researchers Xing Hu, Ge Li, Xin Xia, David Lo and Zhi Jin named “Deep Code Comment Generation”.