Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Next Software Frontier: Software Testing

I blogged about what are the three big things to me that are the next Software Frontier. They are Usability, Software Testing, and Virtualization. I touched Usability, let's move on to Software Testing:

The higher bar on usability and quality is one part of QA challenge. The other part is testing productivity, which is falling far behind the development productivity. Over a decade, development tools improved significantly, allowing programmers to crank out massive software. The complexity grows exponentially, and so does the demand for testing. But the testing productivity today only grows linearly by throw more bodies, or brains, if you’re lucky to find them. Demand is high, but supply of skilled and motivated testers are short.

The industry is still looking for answers. Time is one: wait till generation of monkey testers will pass away and a new generation of trained passionate and well-paid test engineers will come to replace them. Those who don’t have patience are looking at improving the quality in the Dev part of the house. Speaking strongly: if developers make more crap then the testers can handle, why don’t they just stop shitting and clean up? Do some [unit]testing? Go for code coverage? Take up test automation? Yeah, more quality in, more quality out. But here we often face resistance. Some old programmers habits have to die may be only with their owners.

The last one, Virtualization, is not that obvious. Stay tuned, I will come to it in the next post.

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Monday, January 28, 2008

Next Software Frontier: Usability, Software Testing, and Virtualization

What is the next big thing? The New Year is a good time to re-ask this question. In my mind, the Software Frontier 2008 is crossing the points of Usability, Software Testing, and Virtualization.

Why so? Today I cover Usability.
The driving factor #1: computers are fully adopted by the late majority of general public. Your mom and grand mom have computers now. Unlike the early kids, they don’t play Lego games with hardware, OS and software. They expect it to just work. How naïve! Designers haven’t yet figured doors, water faucets and light switches [1]. Now we are trying to build frustration-free software. Here comes a driving factor #2: against the odds, some companies have figured how to do it. They’ve built the software that “just works”. They made it emotionally appealing. Your mom and grand mom love it. The critical mass of good software raises the bar of expected quality and usability [2].

If your software is not there yet, you better catch up. Say you are Micro$oft, and your Vista release didn’t hit the mark: dude this year it will cost you substantial business. You are enterprise application with Motif-like interface from 80s, and customers had been still buying for the business value. Not for long!

So, focus on usability, adapt the techniques and learn to build software that “just works”, and sexy to fall in love with it.

I will follow up with Software Testing and Virtualization with the next posts.

1)Donald’s Norman “Design of Everyday Things”, a deep and fascinating reading on the design for usability, entertains a reader with hilarious examples of poor design of doors, water fascets, light switches and more.

2) The bar on visual design and usability rased even in the enterprise market, which used to be less sensitive to it. Well, users are all the same people who carry their opinions from home to work and back.

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Saturday, January 05, 2008

Santa brought me a pleasant surprise. I got a book in my mail, witch I neither bought nor ordered. It was "Software Teamwork" by Jim Brosseau. I had a privilege to review "Software Teamwork" as a member of Addison-Wesley reviewer's panel. I am greatly enjoying the final version.

The book gives a pool of experience from a software development manager veteran. Jim steps out of the modern agile hype publications by talking about cross-cutting concerns of software development. It is practical, it is real, at times arguable, and always well structured. On my book shelf I place it next to “Dynamics of Software Development” by Jim McCarthy, “Peopleware” by DeMarco and Lister, Scott Berkun’s “The Art Of Project Management”, and books of Steve McConnell's.

Reviewing a book turned out a great experience, too. It is much more work when I expected, but the joy of looking ahead of the public at exploring the newest ideas pays off for the effort. Hopefully my tiny contribution was helpful.

My warmest congratulations to Jim with the release of his book.

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