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Visual Basic For Testers

Joel seems to recommend this.  Has anyone bought it?

I'm a VC++ programmer with a VB background.  Would it be possible to use the framework set out in the book, extend it, and write a freeware-ish test automation tool that actually had value?

Then, when the issue of qualifications comes up, and I don't know WinRunner or LoadRunner or Mercury or whatever, I could reply "No, but I WROTE MY OWN QA auotmation tool, you can download it at blah-blah-blah, so I don't think picking up Rational Visual Test would be that hard ..." :-)

For those who have read the book, is this a possibility?


Matt H.
Thursday, November 7, 2002

For the kind of time investment you're talking about, wouldn't it be worth heading to the nearest Buns & Noble to spend half an hour browsing through the pages?

Thursday, November 7, 2002

Matt -

I think I'm missing some context in your comments, as you seem to refer back to something.

However, you hit upon a real problem for us in the QA/QC field. Nobody's going to spend the thousands it costs to buy a copy of the leading automated testing tools to have at home so they can use them and gain experience. So, unless your company owns them and you get to use them regularly at work, you're pretty much screwed. If you don't have experience with them, then it often becomes a hiring  issue with companies already owning the tools.

So, I've come to the conclusion that unless you just happen to stumble into a company that happens to use one of these tools, or unless your company decides to buy them, send you to training, and then actually commits do doing what it takes to enable useful automated testing so you can get some real time working with them, you're not going to break into getting experience with them. At least, it's going to be very, very difficult for you. Even if you pay a few thousand out of your own pocket to goto a class on the tools, you won't learn what you need, and you won't have the package when you get back home, so you're still screwed.

I've told several of these vendors, not the least of which was Mercury Interactive, that they should adopt the MSDN model. Each year, I do pay, out of my own pocket, for the universal license and have the resulting wealth of resources available to me at home. Considering the relatively narrower scope of an automated testing suite to the scope of all offerred through MSDN, if they charged a few hundred dollars a year for an MSDN-type license, I'd go for it so I could have WinRunner (or Silk, or <fill in the tool you want>) at home and gain experience with it on my own projects. It's still not the same as being able to say you were paid to use it, but you're better off than if you never lay your hands on WinRunner at all.

However, I have yet to see any of the vendors take that approach, and you're not going to be able to accomplish shit on your own during a 30-day eval license (well, you'll certainly learn something, but you'd lose it again after the 30 days were up and you weren't able to keep up your practice).

So, in my case, I have built an automated testing tool, with much the same philosophy you mention in mind -- the ability to say "well, no, but I built one myself."  Haven't had to find out yet how well that would fly in an interview (fortunately :), but that's my theory also. I built mine in perl, and I'm doing some really pretty cool stuff I won't talk about <g> with VB preliminary to the testing tool.

Of course, the exercise of building a testing tool itself has been immensely educational, and even if it ends up not having any direct benefit in an interview, I'm smarter for the experience, which makes it well worth it to me anyway.

If you hit upon any new perspectives on this problem for QA/QC people, hell, let me know! I've wrestled with this problem for some years now, both for my own interests as well as for my staff's (I'm a mgr) professional development concerns. I've lost people before because the company would not get or use one of the "desireable" automated testing tools.

Thursday, November 7, 2002

Uh, duh - example of cranial-rectal fusion here. Sorry, the "visual basic for testers" WAS the book you referred back to -- geeze, what an idiot I was!

Actually, I did just see this on the shelf the other day at Borders. Flipped through it briefly. Wasn't what I was shopping for at the time, but it's worth what the other poster suggested - going and looking.

I doubt it'll have much in it that hits any new ground specific to VB itself, but presumably will give ideas for the mechanics of setting up automated tests, and undoubtedly something about the sorts of items to focus on for testing.

Well, obviously I need to go get more coffee and see if I can't flush the rest of these cobwebs from my head. Sorry about spacing that out earlier.

Thursday, November 7, 2002

A couplea things:

1) Joel offered to give this book away as a freebe if you buy FogBugZ.  That's what got me started ...

2) I went to Barnes & Nobles and they don't carry it.  We have schulers also, but I doubt they'd have it either.  Has anyone actually read this?

thanks again,

Matt H.
Thursday, November 7, 2002

[ot sidebar]

Interesting point you make there Matt H. about the whole qualifications nonsense.

Int: "Your resume says something about Word Perfect skills. But we are looking for Word skills. How many years of experience do you have typing in Word?"

Cand: "Actually my resume shows that I was the chief architect on the Word Perfect 6 project. I've never used Word myself."

Int: "I'm sorry but the job description is quite specific in that we need someone with *Word* skills. I'm not sure exactly why you even replied to the ad actually but thanks for stopping by and Joe will see you out."

Sarain H.
Thursday, November 7, 2002

Sarain -

So you were at that interview also? I didn't see you there, but you quoted the interviewer exactly. <grin>

Seriously - you're exactly right. That's just how it goes.

The automated testing tool thing is quite an issue in the QA/QC job market. And it's gotta be with the 'right' tool, of course. Right or wrong, for good or ill, WinRunner is always among the most 'right' of the 'right' tools. Very marketable.

And the HR screeners, the poor souls, are just biologically-based pattern matchers.

Thursday, November 7, 2002

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