Saturday, April 21, 2012

The book that test built …

At the beginning of the year, ElisabethHendrickson put together a Leanpub book which was a collection of her notes and essays from over 15 years of writing about testing.

The Leanpub method is a fascinating way to “build an electronic book” from blogs. The idea of building such a book truly appealed and thus the journey on what was to be called “The Software Minefield” began.

As you can tell that was January, and I'm talking here in April – The Software Minefield was not just a dump of every article I'd written on and off this blog.

I've been writing this blog, many times as a reaction to the many challenges of my job – sometimes there are themes over several posts, but mainly I write whatever I feel inspired to by my work. And this is fine for a blog.

But with a book, more than being just a series of articles, it's a journey. And so I collected much of my writing into “chaptered themes”. Some were explored in detail, some were missing areas I'd like to see explored more, so I started to write new articles to “fill in the gaps”. Going further than just this, where many articles for this blog were used as a starting point, every one was visited and revisited – some were rewritten so much only the original title remained.

In all with writing, rewrites, proof-reads, and putting everything together in Leanpub, I probably read each article about 12-15 times. To be honest in March I was getting sick of reading my own writing!

As any good tester will tell you, no matter how much you rewrite and revisit what you've written, there are still defects in there. I've recently had my Father (who is a technical author in his field of metallurgy) proof-read it, and so this weekend I've finally perfected my final draft.

It's been an emotional journey – but it's felt wonderful to achieve the destination. I've been inspired by people like my Grandfather who worked as a mining engineer – he would be able to tell me stories and fables about his mining career, sometimes sad, sometimes funny, sometimes the frustration still in his voice with plain stupidity he'd faced decades ago.

In talking with other testers, it become clear to me that through growing up in a family of engineers like my Father and Grandfather that I picked up a culture around engineering which I always perhaps took for granted. I've been really pleased how other testers have responded to some of my articles, and the aim of the book to help testers think for ways to develop and build relationships in what they do. 

But also important to me is how non-testers like my Mother and my Son have picked up the book, and learned a little about what I do and went “well that made sense to me”.

It's all about storytelling …

[PS – Buy my book!]  


  1. Footnote ... a tester let loose on an computer program which creates an electronic book ... what did you think happened?

    Yes, I did find a few bugs on the way, and developed a good relationship with the Leanpub people - who I'd often email saying "oops - what did I do now".

    I'd often get a response saying "no-one's ever done this before". Natural Born Tester!

    Seriously the Leanpub folks are very passionate about what they do, and about raising the bar in what they deliver, it's been a pleasure to learn what I have from them.

  2. Congratulations Mike on publishing your book! I am very happy for you! A lot of testers will be able to learn from your years of experience that you are sharing in your book. Best wishes!

  3. I further propose the Blue Force software guidance system around the self- healing minefield grid be called PRS.
    STC Technologies