With a total of 4 tracks at SwanseaCon, it was hard to choose which talk to go. However, I could not pass up a chance to see Dorothy Graham talk about her own experiences in software development.

I really enjoy learning about the history of computers. Just 3 weeks ago, I took a trip to Bletchley Park the home of the first programmable computers. This was where crytoanalysts managed to develop machines that could help solve the Enigma and Lorenz codes. I strongly recommend visiting.

Dorothy Graham’s career doesn’t go as far back as world war 2, but she has had an impressive career regardless. In her talk, Dorothy Graham looks at the past, present and future of software testing. This includes looking back at her own career in software development, the introduction of DevOps and Agile and the changing attitudes in software testing.

Introducing Software Testing

We started by taking a brief look at Dorothy Grahams career, including some of the computers she worked on (one included punch cards).

In the day before the internet, research and learning was a challenge. If you needed to read a journal, you had to either go to the library or apply to have one sent to you. There were very few books about software testing.

Testing was often thought of as a necessary evil (if thought of at all) which was not helped by the lack of training or qualifications in the field. Recognizing its importance, Dorothy developed some courses in software testing (something that she requested).

Why ISTQB helped

Early attitudes towards software testing were not positive. This soon changed with the introduction of the ISTQB certifications. This qualification resulted in a higher respect for software testing that began to be recognized as a good career choice.

Many people have spoken out against ISTQB, but its contribution to software testing should still be known. It helped take away a lot of ignorance at a time when testing was not highly regarded.

Agile to DevOps

Agile and DevOps were developed because of an issue with earlier processes. Agile was a reaction to process heavy culture, while DevOps was a reaction to silos, bottle necks and poor communication. Together, they are responsive to customer needs and come with better tool support and communication.

Both Agile and DevOps have their critics, but it should be noted that solutions often create new problems.

Some final points

Dorothy ended the talk with a few final points of software testing. Here are a few that she mentioned:

  • The essence of testing is asking what could go wrong? Have you thought of this? Is this right?
  • Testing will always be around as it adds independence and the ability to detect defects early. Testers should collaborate with the developers, not confront them when there are issues.
  • Automation is essential, but not sufficient. Tests aren’t intelligent. Like all tools, they can’t do the work for you. They can only support.

My talk was after Dorothy’s talk, so I had to leave early to get my laptop ready. I was disappointed at missing out on the Q and A, but I still had a chance to speak to her later on. She was very supportive during my own talk, especially when I encountered some technical issues at the start. I am very grateful for her help.