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How *NOT* to win the hearts of developers, part 2

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How *NOT* to win the hearts of developers, part 2

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So, this next one, for me, points out something that I felt was a difficulty in being a tester with development experience.  See part one here.

I don't believe I handled it the best way, but hope that I can use it as an example and teach, perhaps, better ways to deal with developers.

Not long after I started, we were developing a way to download data from our website to a file. The requirements said that the file name had to be alphanumeric, with spaces allowed. This seems easy enough to test, right? So, in the file name field, I held down my shift key and I went all over the keyboard:


As I expected, I broke the site. Broke it in a bad way, like big exception on the screen. Wowee ... I filed a bug. It got worked on, and I repeated my steps in the file name field.


AHA! The SAME THING HAPPENED! Incredulous, I walked over to the developer's desk, sat down, and talked about the issue with him. He pulled up the source code. I couldn't believe what I saw. It looked something like this (pseudo-code):

for (each char in filename field) {
if (char == !) {
pop message up to the user about invalid chars;
if (char == @) {
pop message up to the user about invalid chars;
if (char == #) {
pop message up to the user about invalid chars;
if (char == $) {
pop message up to the user about invalid chars;
if (char == %) {
pop message up to the user about invalid chars;
if (char == ^) {
pop message up to the user about invalid chars;
if (char == &) {
pop message up to the user about invalid chars;
and so on .....

*GASP* I absolutely could not believe what I saw. CS 102 taught me better than that. So I said to him "Why are you doing it that way? Can't you use something like a regular expression?" He said something like "Oh, well, Java doesn't have regular expressions." Me: "Um, yes it does. I have used them. In Java." Him: "Well, I don't know how to use them, so this will work for now."

Huh? Angry that he had tried to pull a fast one on me, absolutely shocked that it was being done how it was being done, I left the conversation. I ended up talking to a few other people, informally, about my concern, but nothing happened immediately. Of course, he found out I had complained about him (I don't suppose I expressed it in the nicest way), and once again, I had created a dev vs. QA situation.

Eventually, I worked out the relationship with said developer, and made it a friendly one again. That code was never released.

As I thought about it later ... I realized that I *did* know how to do what needed to be done, but I let his strictly "tester" view of me prevent me from trying to teach him how to be a better developer. In hindsight, when the conversation hit the "Well, I don't know how to do it" point, I should have been able to say, "Okay, let's work through this together and let me show you. Let's find the regex class ..." etc. I have found since then that our developers are generally pretty open to sitting down together with me and letting me show them a way to do something that I have used before.

Laughing at myself yet again ... in a more true to agile way, the team works much better when testers and developers can just sit together for a while, and non-confrontationally (I don't think that's a word, but it's a quality I strive for) discuss the pros and cons of using certain strategies for solving problems. I have seen many problems solved really early when I pair program/test with a developer as they code, when I can ask the questions and point out the things that I know will come up in my testing. It just makes sense.

Source: http://www.passionatetester.com/2008/05/how-not-to-win-hearts-of-developers_30.html

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