Becoming a testing craftsman

test craftsmanship

I recently came back from teaching a day-long workshop at the Eurostar Conference in Gothenburg. My wonderful co-host Jim Holmes and I wanted to talk about becoming a testing craftsman.

Jim was inspired by the software craftsmanship movement to create this workshop. I think the concept from this community that has resonated most with both of us is the focus on continuous learning and improvement. So while we introduced many tools in this workshop, we wanted the main focus to be on the joy of learning and discovery. Now that we have these tools, how does that change our test approach? What other skills could we learn that could change our test approach further?

Because there’s being able to use tools and then there’s craftsmanship. Craftsmanship is about using your tools and experience to create something with integrity. In testing, we’re often not the creators on a project but rather the catalysts. So the thing that we’re creating is an approach. Part of this approach can include the creation of tools, whether it’s a robust test automation framework or a use-once script. But the important part of the approach we create is the combined skill and experience that we bring to apply to the problem at hand. As we increase our diversity of skills and deepen our experience in each one, we are able to refine our craft to create a high quality approach for different testing problems.

It’s about improving yourself as a craftsman, in order to improve the quality of the software you’re crafting. And believe me, even if you’re not the one typing in the code that tells the software how to run, you’re still crafting software as a tester. You still have influence over the shape and form of the end result. That’s why we do this. For the joy of discovery and the joy of creation. That’s how we craft.

The presentation slides.
The Ruby script worksheet.
Mind maps created by Graham Freeburn.
Slide graphics created with Canva, which is my new favourite toy.