A hacked testing future
What could really kill the soul of Software Testing?
Back in April 2019 I wrote a piece called A dystopian testing future where I wondered through half-realistic and half-dystopian future states that the software testing craft and industry as a whole might reach.
Nowadays I think about that post a lot in retrospect, and on some of the most negative points I’m beginning to think I was actually fairly “positive”… so I want to update a few of my previous ideas.
When imagining all those different points in the other post, I was not considering a “worser-case scenario” where the whole humanity would be hit successively with calamity and suffering. Every single software tester in the world has been on a personal (and professional) way affected by one or more of these:
- the COVID pandemic,
- tragic deaths,
- racism and suffering,
- police violence,
- mass shootings,
- wild fires,
- plane crashes,
- attacks on freedom of speech and thought,
- attacks by demagogues on local and world political affairs,
Most of these invariably spilled over to the software testing world in ways unexpected. They forced a lot of good folks to adapt, but they also “helped” mischievous/bad actors in the community increase their level of trickery. I would like to reflect in this post a bit on the latter, as a follow-up to my previously mentioned post .
“I shall sing you the song of my people”
Here’s some personal freaky observations and some pseudo “big brain” predictions:
Let’s kick off with an example not specific to software testing: tech businesses fail to face reality that the pandemic is still taking lives. These same businesses where a human brain, a computer and a good internet connection are the sole combo needed to produce and deliver value, that rushed to the internet streets to spread pseudo-positivity, “we are doing fine in a remote setting”, “stay healthy!” and “we shall prevail!” messages back in February-to-April 2020. Plenty of them are still entertaining the idea of shoving folks back to the office (and wasting a lot of money renting office space).
Plenty of them are ignoring on a practical basis the mental baggage people are carrying, or not really taking a stand on work-life separation, contributing towards a “work and no life balance” reality for many of our colleagues, many of whom suffer in silence to this day.
A few of these tech businesses all throughout the world even managed to “convince” (or force) a few folks back to the office… only to send them home a few days later since someone ends up getting infected again (duh!). If this specific trend persists, a lot more folks will needlessly get infected.
But wait, there’s more!
Since (almost) everyone in our industry is stuck at home, a big portion of the crowd (from all different schools of testing) that made heavy use of “trainings and/or certifications” or relied on the whole conference circuit to spread their messages and sell their products, had to adapt. Some adapted guided by compassion. Others doubled-down on approaches right of a “101 online marketing dirty tricks” book, investing a lot of effort into their own online-based “sales” channels.
The personal presence restrictions are aiding the extinction of small and local Software Testing communities. The other side of the coin: communities that were previously backed by a strong online presence (or founded on online marketing dirty tricks sales principles) survive and (some) thrive. This would be good, if not for the underlying vampiric relationship between some big communities and private entities or corporate backed testing conference circuits. This relationship will become perverse and indistinguishable through time.
Over-dependency in testing-sweatshops (or their “attractiveness”) will grow to unrecognizable levels. I think this is the case for the following reasons:
- There’s an increasing offer of (newly created) “remote-forever” jobs, desperate to hire craftsman and expert testers / test engineers;
- Good testers will become a rarer commodity: no longer chained by factors that only made sense in the pre-pandemic world, many will leave “flesh-and-blood” workplaces a bit everywhere around the globe, and go to work remotely in fairer places where their skills are in higher-demand and better compensated;
- There will be a growing vacuum of testing talent in companies that were heavily dependent on localized status or localized “benefits”;
- To fill that vacuum - companies will either stop testing, or turn their faith towards bland and soul-less human scripted testing or shallow automation in test, or double down on using testing sweatshops, subliminally adopting mantras of “headcounts over expertise”.
This last point would not just happen solely for Software Testers, but likely for almost all folks involved in building software. And Testing sweatshops built with remote folks will become also more of a thing, as opposed to single-country localized sweatshops in Latin America, South and Eastern Europe and the bigger ones in South Asia.
Testing sweatshops and tools-vendors will be doubling down on financing and hiring/siding with prominent testing “influencers” and individual consultants across all schools of testing. Some of it for the benefit of the overall community… but we can’t discard the possibility that another part would be to strategically make use of prominent figures’ sales channels and audiences, with a purpose not much different from the companies that put some Youtube or Instagram influencers specialized in some craft on their paycheck.
Tools-vendors/Testing consortiums might also double down on gaining territory in Testers minds by means of creating platforms/channels. They will finance and “guide” plenty of initiatives, virtual conferences and communities.Plenty of Testers would be given great opportunities to be alongside current prominent Testing figures and many new faces will be given a platform. A part of this will be done for the benefit of the community, that was in dire need of diversity for a long time. But in some cases there will likely be another agenda for a hidden call to arms, not that different from what companies are already doing when trying to keep small monopolies in the open source software space as well as “lobbying” in non profit consortiums. The more “free-willed” folks they give a platform now, the less compromised they will be for future evil stunts and potential criticism, then benefiting from a large pool of loyal (bought) people.
But wait there’s even more!
It will be increasingly more common to see prominent Software Testing figures going public about a range of topics. For example:
- Where do they stand on issues like pandemic countermeasures, vaccination, class-consciousness, misinformation, …;
- Where they stand in the different political scales of their countries/communities;
- Topics like science and factual truth will be increasingly held with the same face value as lies, memes and fallacies;
We can expect a steady increase in a cacophony of memes, misleading comments, and hateful discussions about world issues, where in the past we saw instead a cacophony (and deafness) between schools of Testing on actual Software Testing problems and topics.
Anything will go, we will likely be surprised/shocked when prominent Testers go public:
- either promoting values and interests like freedom, care, compassion, knowledge and understanding…
- or siding with and promoting demagogues, sharing misleading and/or fake information, and defending racists, xenophobes, professional liars, rapists, pedophiles…
The overall confusion mixed with evil will become a prevalent issue Software Testers will have to thread on, for example, as it is carried over to their day-to-day lives or to the workplace, with different workplaces adopting either more humane or more tyrannical modes of operation.
Is it all bad? Any good predictions?
Until now, I’ve done nothing but play with negative ideas/scenarios. It would be a folly for me to believe I´m the only one thinking about these issues, and not everyone is asleep or ignoring world issues (some of which have existed through centuries) as well as pressing issues in Software Testing. With this in mind, there’s a couple of positive things that I think might happen soon (or are already happening).
The “the latest trend in automation in test frameworks” cycle has been ruling for a bit over a decade. A few people also notice that the advertised next cycle, of using AI and machine-learning is nothing but a cash-grab, similar to what “load testing middle-man companies” already do. People will tolerate this reality up until a point they are absolutely tired of it.
Initially, people will stop contributing to the drunken revelry/insanity of trying to solve the same problem:
how to represent & execute
action->assertioncycles against Web/mobile apps, APIs, …
Some will think:
This should trigger the start of the revolution.
What projects, problems and solutions will brew in that revolution? I’m not sure, but here’s one I think about often, an issue that has been ignored for decades: inclusive interfaces/structures/wrappers for “bigger” automated checks.
These bigger checks will target entire systems, and the projects built to achieve this will aim provide easy ways for non technical folk (and craftsman Testers) to have a greater tool control, enabling esoteric tests that require complex mixtures of:
- infrastructure setup
- custom environment deployments
- instancing large test data sets,
- performing specific data consistency measurements (and assertions) on different exposed APIs,
- triggering typical automated checks (that would cover edge cases or scripted scenarios hard to reproduce without tooling),
- triggering load, performance and stress checks
Up until now, the reality is most folks solve each of these points through combining different tools, but, NEVER take the next step of abstracting all of it in a single inclusive interface. This will hopefully become a thing of the past, “after the revolution”, and in the near future we would see plenty of choices of tooling that solves all of this through single easy to use interfaces. Tooling that is built on solid principles, and that is at the same time inclusive and hackable. Soon, folks won’t worry about the choice of automated in test frameworks to solve small problems, they will be enabled and focused on solving bigger and more meaningful test engineering problems.
Lastly, micro communities will be organically formed with folks that are disillusioned with almost all of the prominent schools/churches of Testing, be it factory, agile, charismatic, self-proclaimed united nations of testers, context-driven, rapid, and many others. I think about the Anonymous movement, from its first “lulz”-based campaigns against scientology, to its transition into coordinated (h)activism against governments and corporations and I wonder: once something similar happens in the Software Testing craft, a lot of promising changes and follow-up revolutions will soon follow.
Anonymous Testers of all ethnic groups, genders, religions, sexuality and disabilities, will likely be the ones keeping the soul of Testing alive. These micro communities will get the closest than anyone has ever been to solving deep testing problems in a selfless, leaderless and self sufficient way, not wanting to be attached to any particular denomination. When identified, many of them will be hated and despised by all current schools of testing, particularly for being anti-monopoly and anti-denominational. They will be a genuine “light” against greed of groups and individuals that profit off of selling (or restricting) any sort of knowledge, standards, rules, certifications, trainings, and even consulting on Software Testing.
Knowledge will run free.
One thing is certain, this particular revolution will not be televised… or on Twitter:
If you read this far, thank you. Those that know me, will see most of this post for what it is: a biased and faulty product of entertaining my thoughts and imagination, and will hopefully not take much of it seriously. On the serious parts, maybe someone can make use of it to start meaningful exchanges of ideas and opinions. Feel free to reach out to me with comments, ideas, grammar errors, and suggestions via any of my social media. Until next time, stay safe, take care!