e-testing Blog

Book Review – Software Testing in the real world

Software Testing in the Real World by Ed Kit Published by Addison-Wesley. Reviewed by Peter Morgan

Date Sept 1995 ISBN 0-201-87756-2.
Hardback; pp 252.

Amazon.co.uk Link

What gives a book durability? Whatever the qualities, this volume from Ed Kit has them. It was published nearly 8 years ago, and in spite of the passage of time, the passion of the author comes through very clearly. What is more, it is still selling reasonably well (it appears on several well respected testers recommended reading lists).

I have to hold my hands up, and admit that I love the book, but hate the title. It was one of the first testing books that I read, and as I re-read it (in 2003, I may add!), it still left me reeling. Some of the current themes in testing are evident (there is never enough time for testing, testing is a risk-based activity, go for small gains), and this volume gives a very good overview. The stated aim is to bring about improvements in the testing process. Now there is a need that is still very current!

Here is a man who is committed to the discipline of testing. There is plenty of good solid common sense, that kind to make you sit up and take notice. Let me give you two quotations to whet your appetite; both of these concern the use of test automation tools. “Tools don’t remove the need to think”, followed by “A fool with a tool is still a fool”. All of which is very good stuff.

The sections of both tools and reviews are both full of good points, although there is some blurring of the lines between reviews and inspections. In the light of this kind of criticism, it should be remembered that this is a generalist book, suitable for someone coming into software testing anew, as well as seasoned practitioners. We can probably forgive such small matters.

At the beginning is an enlightening view of what testing is all about, with the advice to cultivate the “you are here to break it” mentality in the testing team(s). Ed also introduces the idea of reading the book with a list of improvements that you could make; a blank list that you fill in as you go through. Several chapters end with additions to the list. There are good appendices, with both documents to review, and sample answers, distilled from the individual answers of experienced testers.

Much of the content is practical, common sense and eminently useable. I like the quotation from an ancient Chinese proverb: “Never try to leap a chasm in two bounds”. The whole aim is that large improvements in the whole testing process will only come about as smaller improvements take place (some of which seem to be so small as to make no difference). That is what happens in the real world of testing. I suppose that must be the justification for the title. My recommendation is to forget the title and buy the book.

Published on-line on Unicom’s Testing Bulletin, Edition 8

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