Exploration Through Example

Example-driven development, Agile testing, context-driven testing, Agile programming, Ruby, and other things of interest to Brian Marick
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Tue, 31 Jan 2006

PNSQC Call for Papers

The Pacific Northwest Software Quality Conference is one of my favorite conferences. I think it usually runs about 200 people, so it's small enough to meet people. As a regional conference always in the same place (Portland, OR, USA), there's a continuity of attendees that allows some papers to be less introductory than in other conferences.

They tell me:

This year's theme is: "Quality - A Competitive Advantage". If you know of someone doing work worthy of sharing with other interested listeners, please share this with them. PNSQC has been an ardent supporter of both new and experienced speakers and would like to continue to do so.

All that is needed to submit to the conference is a short abstract that gives us enough information to be able to determine the fit of the paper to our conference. Not much work is required. You can submit the abstract at http://pnsqc-m.org/?q=node/174.

Deadline is March 31.

## Posted at 21:21 in category /conferences [permalink] [top]

OOPSLA Essays 2006

Last year, I was track chair for the OOPSLA essays track. This year, thankfully, it's Richard P. Gabriel, who will be more successful than I was. I'm on the committee. A quote from the track page:

An essay is a rigorously peer-reviewed reflection on technology, its relation to human endeavors, or its philosophical, sociological, psychological, historical, or anthropological underpinnings. An essay can be an exploration of technology, its impacts, or the circumstances of its creation; it can present a personal view of what is, explore a terrain, or lead the reader in an act of discovery; it can be a philosophical digression or a deep analysis.

What makes for a successful essay? At its best, an essay is a clear and compelling piece of writing that enacts or reveals the process of understanding or exploring a topic important to the OOPSLA community. It may or may not have a conclusion, but it must provide some insight or argument. A successful essay shows a keen mind coming to grips with a tough or intriguing problem; as Virginia Woolf wrote, "it explains much and tells much." [from the preface of "Memoirs of a Working Woman's Guild"].

The idea of essays is one of those oddities that have made OOPSLA so interesting and productive over the years. You should submit. By March 18.

## Posted at 06:01 in category /oopsla [permalink] [top]


I'm tired of having to write "Customers (product owners, business experts, etc.)" when talking about the particular project role XP calls "customer" (or "Customer," in a largely fruitless effort to short-circuit the association with someone buying something in a store).

We don't have this problem with "programmer" or "tester", so what's up with that other role? Maybe it's that its name is not based on a verb. It's kind of clear what the central activity of a programmer or tester is—to program or to test—but what is it that a Customer does? Customate? A product owner presumably owns, but "to own" is a pretty passive concept.

Maybe things would be clearer if (a) the noun we used for the Customer role was linked to a verb, and (b) that verb had something to do with the central activity of a Customer (product owner, etc.).

And what is that central activity? I think it's to determine the value of a particular proposed change. The verb that comes to my mind is "appraise." So the role would be named Appraiser. Here's a definition:

1: one who estimates officially the worth or value or quality of things
2: one who determines authenticity (as of works of art) or who guarantees validity

I like the word "officially," which hints at the making of a final judgment. I also like "authenticity" and "validity." They have connotations of determining whether something is real or not. In software, the Appraiser determines whether something that could become real should become real.

The only active-verb-based alternative in semi-common use is Goal Donor. I think it's inferior to Appraiser because it's about what that role does from the perspective of a programmer. From the perspective of the business, the judging of value is more important than the giving of goals.

Therefore, unless I get a better suggestion by February 15, 2006, on that date all references to "Customer" in XP books or "Product Owner" in Scrum books will retroactively change to "Appraiser," in exactly the same way that "test-driven" became "example-driven" in late 2003.

## Posted at 06:01 in category /agile [permalink] [top]

About Brian Marick
I consult mainly on Agile software development, with a special focus on how testing fits in.

Contact me here: marick@exampler.com.




Agile Testing Directions
Tests and examples
Technology-facing programmer support
Business-facing team support
Business-facing product critiques
Technology-facing product critiques
Testers on agile projects

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Working your way out of the automated GUI testing tarpit
  1. Three ways of writing the same test
  2. A test should deduce its setup path
  3. Convert the suite one failure at a time
  4. You should be able to get to any page in one step
  5. Extract fast tests about single pages
  6. Link checking without clicking on links
  7. Workflow tests remain GUI tests
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Design-Driven Test-Driven Design
Creating a test
Making it (barely) run
Views and presenters appear
Hooking up the real GUI


Popular Articles
A roadmap for testing on an agile project: When consulting on testing in Agile projects, I like to call this plan "what I'm biased toward."

Tacit knowledge: Experts often have no theory of their work. They simply perform skillfully.

Process and personality: Every article on methodology implicitly begins "Let's talk about me."


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