For the record, I’d be the first to admit that we gave testing short shrift a long time ago. I remember at Microsoft is was a standing joke that customers were our testers, it was they found the bugs, and that nobody should ever rely on a Microsoft product with an even version number; 2.0 would have bugs. 2.1 would incorporate customer-reported fixes. I didn’t think it was very funny.

There was also a general disdain for customers, they’re stupid, they don’t know what they want.

Early versions of MS Software. e.g. when Word was a separate product, not part of a suite with Excel, etc., had books in the box. Nobody read them. I did, but then I’m a reader.

But on the Help menu there were two top entries: Mouse Help and Keyboard Help. Later there was just Help, and it was mouse help only; keyboard help was removed and it was only people who noticed the underlined letter and remembered to use the Alt key who kept both hands on the keyboard most of the time.

And “click” became “just click,” the whole thing pissed me off major. I can go hours without touching a mouse in desktop applications, though it’s impractical on web pages. Tab order isn’t precise, when it’s implemented at all.

Anyway I think what we’re seeing now is an overreaction to slipshod testing in the past, and some of the stuff I read from unit test aficionados makes me cringe. Tests as API documentation is a crazy idea. Leaving full test responsibility to developers ignores everything we long-time developers have learned.

I admit to a certain cockiness. I’ve had so many times when I’ve done weeks of work writing small manageable objects and seen everything work perfectly once the last of them is done. This happened to me on a telephony project at Intel in 1995 and the managers were so impressed they relieved me of meetings, which at Intel is like being crowned Pope.

But those were lucky breaks, I resist that cockiness now and test like crazy. I hate releasing something for test and having bugs show up right away, and in basic functionality no less, boy does that sting.

I think we’re pretty much in full agreement here.


American Software Developer living in Vietnam. Classical musician (guitar, woodwinds), weightlifter, multilingual, misanthrope • XY

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