Testers Who Are Passionate About Testing Are Passionate About Test Data by Gregg Bolinger on Jul 12, 2013

Testers Who Are Passionate About Testing Are Passionate About Test Data

I remember sitting in a team meeting many years ago and the Senior Architect asked the team about testing.  Actually, she asked about the lack of tests.  One of the more green engineers responded,  and he said what we all were thinking at the time but weren’t about to say. “We don’t have time to write tests” I cringe now just typing it.  I worked for a digital marketing firm where projects were often completed by all night coding binges at the last possible minute.  Costs were high, timelines were short, deadlines always loomed, and testing was always an afterthought.  The Architect responded with a simple sentence that has followed me to this day. “You don’t have time not to write tests.” As a young software engineer it is hard to quantify in your mind the importance of that statement.  Especially when the culture of your team isn’t passionate about testing.  When testing is an afterthought, software fails.  In fact, all software fails.  The only way to limit how often and how quickly those failures are resolved is to test. “You don’t have time not to write tests.”

You can’t have high test coverage without high quality test data

Throughout my career I’ve been on teams where passion about testing was on both spectrums.  From afterthought all the way to teams delaying launch because there wasn’t enough test coverage.  As a group, I think we’ve all moved in a positive direction when it comes to understanding how important testing our software is.  I think we’re all becoming a lot more passionate about it.  And those who are the most passionate about testing their software are just as passionate about test data. Test data as an afterthought is just as dangerous as testing as an afterthought.  If I could borrow a phrase and modify it just a bit I’d say, “You don’t have time not to have test data.” Teams scrambling to get the most test coverage are ultimately scrambling to get test data. Excel files, XML files, CSV files, scrubbed production databases, slow test data management systems, hand coded data generation.  These are some of the most popular ways teams are generating and managing test data.  Yes, in the year 2013, teams are using excel spreadsheets for test data.  And quite frankly, I’m ok with that because those teams are passionate enough about testing their software, they’re willing to deal with painful measures to make their software better. Passion about software testing and passion about test data are two very important driving forces behind GenRocket. GenRocket was forged out of the fires of Excel spreadsheets, XML files, and hand coded data generation. You don’t have time not to write tests. You don’t have time not to have test data.