Saturday, February 23, 2013

Busy Times, Agile Reviewing

Though I promised a review of Hackers and Painters a week ago, it's been busier than I anticipated.

I'll say this much - the last few chapters of Hackers and Painters are very interesting. They'll make you question how much of your systems and applications you develop in low-level, compiled languages and how much more you could be getting done if you used a more powerful language. For aspiring system designers, these chapters are a very worthwhile read.

Interesting side note: I wonder what Agile book reviewing would be like? Perhaps I'll adapt that methodology instead of reviewing all at once, with a retrospective at the end of each book that summarizes the findings.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Updates and Upcoming Reviews

It's been a busy week, but there's still time to read available. I've just finished reading Hackers and Painters by Paul Graham. I'll have a review of that one up by the end of the weekend. Up next, I'm looking at (in no certain order):

  1. Working with Legacy Code, Michael C. Feathers
  2. Refactoring: Improving the Design of Existing Code, Martin Fowler
  3. Beautiful Architecture, Diomidis Spinellis, Georgios Gousios
  4. Introducing Erlang, Simon St. Laurent
Happy reading!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

"Beautiful Testing" by Adam Goucher, Tim Riley; O'Reilly Media;

Disclaimer: I've read portions of the book, not all of it. I'll specify these sections as I review. I'm reviewing the eBook version. (The PDF is great!). I received this book as a gift for participating in an O'Reilly Velocity survey.

To begin with, I found that this book is very friendly to jump into any chapter at any time - there are no ordering dependencies. This is very nice, since at times I'll be more interested in the business aspect and at others I want to do a technical deep dive. The quality of the writing has also been mostly solid so far. The author's passions shine through in most cases, and there has only been one section where it felt like the writing was too dry.

There are three parts to this book: Beautiful Testers, Beautiful Process, and Beautiful Tools. I found this division into tracks to be very effective, and further facilitates jumping in depending on one's mood and needs.

In preparation to review this book, I read the following chapters:
1. Was It Good For You?
3. Building Open Source QA Communities
4. Collaboration is the Cornerstone of Beautiful Performance Testing
14. Test-Driven Development: Driving New Standards of Beauty
15. Beautiful Testing as the Cornerstone of Business Success
17. Beautiful Testing is Efficient Testing

"Was It Good For You?" is an opinionated and energizing introduction to this book. In this chapter, Linda Wilkinson attempts to define what a tester is and what value a tester brings to the table. It felt like a keynote at a major conference, and left me feeling a little inspired after I read through it. Even though there are no ordering dependencies, I highly recommend starting at this chapter. It adds a lot to the book.

"Building Open Source QA Communities" is an interesting tale of what it takes to get volunteers involved and engaged, and what it takes to lose them. It was a memorable read.

"Collaboration is the Cornerstone of Beautiful Performance Testing" is all about working with others. It tells a story about how difficult things can be when miscommunication arises, and how a little effort in collaboration goes a long way towards really understanding the requirements. The back-and-forth dynamics detailed in the chapter make for an entertaining read.

The three chapters in the Beautiful Processes part of the book dove in. Chapter 17 was particularly pleasant to read. It was concise and humorous, and presented a neat mnemonic for determining testing priority (SLIME).

I've not read any part of the Beautiful Tools section of the book, but the chapter on "Testing Network Services in Multimachine Scenarios" looks particularly interesting.

Another note about the book overall: there are many great diagrams throughout, in full color. These make for convenient print-outs that summarize the knowledge in a chapter!

What could be better? I feel like the balance between parts could have been a bit better. I would have appreciated a little more on the side of Beautiful Tools. The landscape of testing tools only continues to grow. In fact, if another edition of this book is ever released, that would be at the top of my wishlist for new content!

Check it out: Beautiful Testing