Apr 29

Tim O'Reilly

Tim O'Reilly

Testers as the new heroes

I wrote the other day that perhaps designers were the new heroes of the computer industry. But then I remembered a conversation that I had recently with Jason Matusow, Microsoft's shared source evangelist. Remarking on new companies like Spikesource and SourceLabs, he said: "It seems to me that the tester rather than the coder is becoming the new hero of the open source community."

I think he's onto something.

Hmm... if both designers and testers are the new heroes, is this further evidence of my oft-argued "open source paradigm shift", where open source is leading to the commodification of many forms of infrastructure software, making testing and integration more important as an industry competency. Meanwhile, the new web applications "up the stack" are driven by a whole new class of "infoware design patterns".

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Comments: 2

  vishi [04.29.05 12:48 PM]

"infoware design patterns"? Maybe a link for that too?

  Will Parker [05.07.05 11:50 AM]

Think tester == editor when judging whether testers should be considered heroes.

Just as it's rare to find a writer whose work cannot be improved by a compentent, conscientious editor, it's rare to find a programmer whose work cannot be improved by a competent, conscientious tester.

Nonetheless, the elegance of the content comes from the native talent of the creator, not the editor. Although programmers and writers may not believe it, testers and editors both know this in their bones.

Unfortunately, the model seems to break down when applied to current software design practices. In most organizations, design responsibilities are spread across the project manager, the programmer(s) and possibly a usability / user experience engineer.

In this case, we could fall back on artisanship for a model (master, journeyman, apprentice), but that too fails to satisfy. This leaves the roles of creator and editor to a single person - the project manager, and that simply won't work in software design.

What alternative models can we use profitably to assign praise or blame in the software design process?

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