For this weekend's read, I downloaded and
printed the (free!) "A Lucky Shot at
Agile" eBook written by Zeger Van Hese. It is a
best-paper award piece from
last year's EuroSTAR, and recently a webinar too. I had to miss
the webinar due to scheduling conflicts, so having it on book now
is a good opportunity to catch up. I will write a little bit about
the eBook here, but I recommend you still read the full story on this link
(this is a review only, not a summary).
The review conclusion is that I enjoyed the book a lot. Here are
The content is very interesting. The testing project was a
revamped version destined to replace an old big product. Those of
you who already worked in a "completely changed version of an old
big product" know how daunting a task it is: all the difficulties
of "new", but with the same obstacles related to "old" too (and
don't get me started on copy-pastes...). It seems from the
book that they did a great job and customers+management were
The book has a short introduction to Agile, just enough to
understand the story. So if you want to learn about Agile, you have
plenty of resources on the web or the "
References" chapter of the eBook.
You can't really disagree with the content, as it is Zeger's
personal account of the facts and their interpretation.
Well, maybe we can argue a bit on interpretation… And one of the
parts where I dissent is where Zeger considers "
still used" as one of the problems. I don't agree due to
personal preferences for manual (the sapient/
brainual type) tests, but also because the paragraph
expanding this part talks about coverage traceability and not
really about manual tests.
There are some points in the story that sent me on side
- One of them is the depiction of their very organized company,
that had all the process management tools necessary as part of the
ISO13485:2003 certification, but where the requirements
management system was not used by the programming team and the
requirement traceability to the testing management system was
ignored after a glitch. Makes you think about the real value of
certification and their criteria.
- Another was this statement: "
For every agile practice we
had embraced before, there seemed to be another practice that was
carelessly neglected or even abandoned" (the phrase made
me stand up from the chair). Very well said, and I feel it
happens a lot (although it's hard to keep track). I'm
pretty sure I've read a very similar account before, just can't
point it. Why does this happen? Maybe it is because after feeling
the benefits of the new processes people feel like they can drop
the benefits of the other ones (in a risk
homeostasis way)? Maybe it is because there's a limit to
the quantity of processes a people would like to carry with?
It's got great readability and flow, maybe the most important
attribute after content.
I had read Zeger's texts at his blog and knew he writes well, but
writing a short blog post is not the same as writing a 17 page
booklet. Zeger stood up to the challenge very well.
The story telling is compelling and engaging, you follow the
development team (managers, testers and programmers) on
its evolution, doubts and progress. As said earlier, I literally
stood up from my chair and read standing up when reaching the
beginning of chapter 8 (where problems started to
Visuals are nicely done, very good design and pagination that
makes reading easier. The 'tweetable' sections are a creative way
of denoting block quotations :).
There are some bugs in the eBook... Some of them minor (typos,
formatting... which I'll write Zeger directly about), and some
more important ones. I'll expand on these ones:
- The story includes a transition from many prescripted tests to
exploratory based test activities. It would be nice to have more
details on how this was presented, executed and received.
- Another thing I miss is stories on the regression suite. At one
moment Zeger comments that "
the automated regression tests
proved to be invaluable once more", but it's unclear if the
value was due to the sense of coverage, or due to actual bugs
- Perhaps the biggest point missing is a
section about the author. Zeger's name appears in the cover but
there's nothing more about him anywhere... They should've added an
About the author" at the end, even a short one like
this one adapted from his blog's about page:
"Zeger Van Hese lives in Belgium. He started out in IT in
1999 and rolled into software testing in 2000. His passions include
exploratory testing, testing in agile projects and, above all,
continuous learning from different perspectives."
So if you want a simple first person account of Agile transition,
go, read the book!
And then leave your comments and questions here, I'll send the
link to Zeger and am sure he will be reading and answering