As a prequel to Agile Testing Days where I will do my presentation, I am trying to interview the other speakers. Today we have Scott W. Ambler, a software engineer, consultant and author, currently Chief Methodologist for IT at IBM Corporation in their IBM Rational division. He is known as author of several books focused on the Unified process, Agile software development, the Unified Modeling Language, and CMM-based development.
Eusebiu Blindu: How would Scott Ambler describe himself in the context of the testing community and as a person?
Scott W. Ambler :I’m clearly a pro-testing person, as many within the agile community are. For many years I have promoted at test early and test often strategy in my writings as well as a test-first one. I’ve embedded testing techniques in the various methodologies that I’ve worked on over the years, in particular I’ve promoted database testing within the Agile Data method (http://www.agiledata.org) and a range of testing strategies in Disciplined Agile Delivery (DAD) (http://www.DisciplinedAgileDelivery.com). Database testing has been a radical concept, particularly in the data community, that even now very little has been written about. In DAD I promote the idea of explicitly including independent testing, when appropriate, in addition to the whole team testing approach which is currently dominant within the agile community. Whole team testing is clearly important, but there are some situations, particularly at scale, where independent testing is required. As a person I’m a father first, a husband second, and an IT professional third.
Eusebiu Blindu: How would you shortly define “Agile Testing”?
Scott W. Ambler:That’s a hard one. How about: Test often, early (if not first), collaboratively, and to the risk. Some more detailed thoughts can be found at http://www.ambysoft.com/essays/agileTesting.html
Eusebiu Blindu: Do you apply “Agile Testing” currently and if so, how exactly?
Scott W. Ambler:As you can see at the article in the previous question, there’s a range of agile testing strategies. I try to be as agile as I can at everything that I do.
Eusebiu Blindu: Can you please tell us more about Disciplined Agile Delivery (DAD) and the related book you co-authored?
Scott W. Ambler: DAD is a hybrid agile process framework adopting proven strategies from Scrum, XP, Agile Modeling, Kanban, Unified Process, and others. Interesting features for agilists are that it describes a full delivery lifecycle, not just construction; it is goal-driven, not prescriptive, providing the flexibility required to meet the unique challenges of your situation; it is enterprise aware, providing advice for how agile teams can fit in effectively into their overall organizational ecosystem; and it provides a solid foundation from which to scale agile approaches.
Eusebiu Blindu: What would be the three most important factors in your opinion when dealing with database testing (http://www.agiledata.org/essays/databaseTesting.html)?
Scott W. Ambler: First is to recognize the need to do so. The majority of organizations don’t seem to understand this, a reflection of the culture within the data management community. Second is to understand that you need to do both black box testing and clear-box testing. The teams that do database testing typically do just black box testing, which is a great start but not sufficient. Third is to understand that test-first approaches to database testing are where you need to get to. I wrote an article for IEEE Software in 2007 entitled Test Driven Development of Relational Databases (http://www.computer.org/portal/web/csdl/doi/10.1109/MS.2007.91) so the idea has been out there for awhile now.
Eusebiu Blindu: Also because I myself started my career as IBM contractor, can you tell us what is the role currently played by the company in the world of testing?
Scott W. Ambler: IBM sells testing tools, we do testing training, consulting and mentoring. We are also providing testing outsourcing services. We do research into testing. IBM has over 400,000 people worldwide, and testing is a key aspect of our overall value proposition.
Eusebiu Blindu: You mention you are a father and a husband before an expert in the field. How important is that for the career balance?
Scott W. Ambler: It’s incredibly difficult to have a good work-life balance. If you don’t put your family first you’re probably going to be out of balance, which then leads to problems in the long run. IT work can demand long hours of you, and you need to know when to say enough is enough.
Eusebiu Blindu: In http://www.ambysoft.com/essays/agileTesting.html it is written, kind of like a motto, “Agile Testing and Quality Strategies: Discipline Over Rhetoric”. What does “Discipline over Rhetoric” mean?
Scott W. Ambler: The challenge that I see with the agile community is that there is a fair bit of rhetoric around testing, a lot of it good but some of it bad. One of the things that I do is run industry surveys to discover what people are actually doing, what is working well, and what might not be working so well. Then I share the results (see http://www.ambysoft.com/surveys/). My testing and quality article describes a collection of strategies, some of them such as TDD and whole team testing which “conform” to the common agile rhetoric. Some strategies including independent testing and formal reviews which don’t conform to the mainstream rhetoric. In DAD we promote the idea that one aspect of being disciplined is to adopt the strategies that are appropriate to your situation and then tailor them accordingly. One of the requisites of that is to know what strategies are available to you the advantages and disadvantages of them.
Eusebiu Blindu: What is the one thing that you can name that keeps the motivation in your work? What makes it still exciting?
Scott W. Ambler: I’m constantly learning. I think that if I wasn’t learning this stuff would become really dull really quickly for me.
Eusebiu Blindu: What do you expect from the Agile Testing Days conference? Do you have in mind any particular talk that you would attend?
Scott W. Ambler: I have decided yet which talks I will attend. It will be driven by my interests at the time which in turn is driven by what I’m doing with customers at that point.
Eusebiu Blindu: How would you test a Rubik’s cube? What related to “Agile” would you apply in doing that?
Scott W. Ambler: I would hand it to my sister Carol and ask for her opinion. She loves puzzles and has mastered several different forms of Rubik’s puzzles. Collaborative testing involving an expert is hard to beat.
Eusebiu Blindu: Thanks for the time spent with this interview. Looking forward to meeting you there!ShareThis