I’ve been hearing about GR Dev Night (and GR Dev Day) ever since I began searching for a job in West Michigan. My friends from college who now work in the Grand Rapids area all made sure to give me the inside scoop on these fun and educational events.
Because there are only four events per year, it took some waiting before I was able to attend one of the events.
When the time finally came, I was excited to experience the most recent GR Dev Night with a couple of my coworkers to learn more about software testing!
This particular GR Dev Night was co-hosted by the GR Testers Meetup, which, as it turns out, is made up of a bunch of smart and good-humored local testers and developers. Pete Walen, a self-described Software Anthropologist and Software Tester, gave the keynote presentation. He had the crowd laughing endlessly all while teaching us a few things about software testing. Here are the top 5 things I learned that night.
While findings bugs in software is certainly important, it is not the goal of software testing. Rather, the goal is to compare the software to some sort of model and determine what discrepancies, if any, exist. That model might include some performance specifications or it could be a set of user actions or tasks that the software must support. In an ideal world, a software tester would verify that no bugs exist in the code and it completely complies with the specs.
There are ways that code can be structured to be more easily integrated into automated testing. These methods depend greatly upon which programming languages the software is written in, but can save time by considering where the automated testing will hook in right from the initial planning phases. It might be helpful for developers to include a tester in this early planning.
Before attending this GR Dev Night, I would have said our stakeholders included people such as numerous employees at our customer’s company, my project manager, a few other key people here at CQL, and the users of the ecommerce websites that I work on. That’s a decent list, but Pete Walen described who the stakeholders are in a much broader way. He defined them as any person that is affected by the success or failure of a project, any person that is affected by the actions or inactions of a product, and any person that is affected by the effects of a service. If I think about the project I work on in that new light, it opens up a whole new set of stakeholders. Take a minute to think about the project you work on in this way. You might be surprised how diverse and wide reaching your group of stakeholders really is.
A good tester goes about comparing the software to the requirements, and when a discrepancy is found, they are great at detailing it. They investigate the different ways they can generate that result. These details should help provide insight into the problem, so that the developers can resolve the discrepancy. Sometimes software testers can be seen as a developer’s adversary, but integrating them into the development team and having them work closely with the developers can reduce this. In fact, the software tester helps ensure that the code written by the developer is in line with the customer’s desire, so they can make a stellar team.
Okay, this one isn't exclusively about software testing, but it's still important. I laughed a lot and left the event feeling inspired to learn more. That alone made this event worth attending, since it will lead to improvements in the code that I write in the future. On top of that, I met some really neat people and we talked about all sorts of software and tech topics during the after party at Railtown Brewing. It was the perfect social setting to mingle with this group and get to know more about local businesses, user groups, and upcoming conferences in the area.
I think GR Dev Night is a great event for developers. It gets us out of the office and away from the computer. It helps us to continue learning and developing our skillset. The setting is relaxed, so if you’d rather just show up and listen to the talks then leave, that’s totally okay. But, if you’d like to stick around and mingle with other attendees, it’s a fantastic place to network. If you have business cards, bring them. You never know who you might meet or what opportunities you may find. Keep an eye on the GR Dev Night website for details on the next GR Dev Night, which is currently being planned for September.