I read a ton of books, and I’ve found that reading books about testing is my favorite way to learn new technical skills and testing strategies. James Clear, an author and expert on creating good habits, says: “Reading is like a software update for your brain. Whenever you learn a new concept or idea, the ‘software’ improves. You download new features and fix old bugs.” As a software tester, I love this sentiment!
I thought it would be fun this year to review one testing-related book a month in my blog, and what better book to start with than Agile Testing Condensed by Janet Gregory and Lisa Crispin? They literally “wrote the book” on agile testing a decade ago, then followed it up with a sequel called More Agile Testing in 2014. Now they have a condensed version of their ideas, and it’s a great read!
This book should be required reading for anyone involved in creating or testing software. It would be especially helpful for those in management, who might not have much time to read but want to understand the key components of creating and releasing software with high quality. The book took only a couple of hours for me to read, and I learned a lot of new concepts in the process.
One of my favorite things about the electronic version of the book is that it comes with a ton of hyperlinks. So if the authors mention a concept that you aren’t familiar with, such as example mapping, it comes with a link that you can click to go to the original source of the concept and read the description. But if you are familiar with the concept, you can just skip the link and read on. What a great way to keep the text short and make reading more interactive!
The book is divided into four sections:
Foundations: This is where the term “Agile Testing” is defined, and where the authors explain how a whole software team can get involved in testing.
Testing Approaches: In this section, the authors show how important it is to come up with examples when designing software, and how a tester’s role can be that of a question asker, bringing up use cases that no one else may have thought of. They also define exploratory testing and offer up some great exploratory testing ideas, and they explain the difference between Continuous Delivery and Continuous Deployment.
Helpful Models: This section discusses two models that can be used to help teams design a good testing strategy: the Agile Testing Quadrants and the Test Automation Pyramid. There’s also a great section on defining “Done”; “Done” can mean different things in different contexts.
Agile Testing Today: This was my favorite part of the book! The authors asked several testing thought leaders what they saw as the future of the software tester’s role. I loved the ideas that were put forth in the responses. Some of the roles we can play as agile testers (suggested by Aldo Rall) are:
- Test engineering specialist
- Agile scholar
- Change agent
- Business domain scholar
I found myself nodding along with each of these descriptions, thinking “Yes, I do that, and so do all the great testers I know.”
I recommend that you purchase this book, read it, put its ideas to use on your team, and then share those ideas with everyone in your company, especially those managers who wonder why we still need software testers! In just 101 pages, Agile Testing Condensed shows us how exciting it is to use testing skills to help create great software.