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1844Re: {Possible Spam?} [agile-usability] bug or missing feature?, was: just one bug's enough to make a program useless

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  • Brian Marick
    Jan 3, 2006
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      On Jan 3, 2006, at 2:18 PM, Jeff Patton wrote:
      > I have observed a pattern where testers become acutely aware of
      > inefficiencies in the workflow for the test cases they execute often
      > without regard for how realistically the test case reflects an actual
      > users' goals or usage.
      > For example I used to do a lot of work in a brick and mortar retail
      > environment. Testers often asked for features to create items to
      > sell with less mandatory attributes, or navigate directly from item
      > creation to transaction entry, or to easily remove items. While all
      > these seemed logical, in large retail organizations those creating
      > items weren't the ones entering transactions. And removing items
      > with any transactional history had larger legal implications. The
      > feature suggestions would have indeed improved workflow for the
      > tester executing test cases, but not necessarily the user doing work.
      > Now I know enlightened testers such as Brian and others wouldn't fall
      > into this trap. But to help the less enlightened I've always found
      > it important to have a strong understanding of the applications users
      > and their workflow. A good user model and task model serve that
      > purpose. Some concisely written user scenarios help with that also.
      > It's hard to remember sometimes that we're not the user and the
      > models help remind us.

      Agreed. Going beyond what you say: a tester without understanding of
      the domain will not only make bad usability suggestions, she will
      also report too many bugs that don't matter to real users and too few
      bugs that do.

      As Michael Bolton and a host of others would instantly remind me, the
      good tester is also operating under the assumption that the good user
      model and good task model are wrong in some important ways, and that
      part of her job is probably to find out how. (Similarly, her own
      understanding is doubtless wrong, too. It's the Turtles of
      Uncertainty all the way down.)

      P.S. Making changes to improve the usability for testers does have
      business value, unless their time costs nothing. I have some faith,
      but no evidence, that it would also improve the code, much like
      catering to JUnit or Fit does.

      Brian Marick, independent consultant
      Mostly on agile methods with a testing slant
      www.exampler.com, www.testing.com/cgi-bin/blog
      Book in progress: www.exampler.com/book
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