If it isn’t tested then it doesn’t work.

Bill, the testing juggernaut

Especially with something as complicated as software, if it isn’t tested then I promise it will fail in some horrible way. We have learned from experience to take testing seriously.

10% of our entire organization is devoted to testing! His name is Bill and he loves lists and carefully checking them off. For this position you need to hunt for that rare individual who enjoys being organized, thorough, and never gets bored.

Our programmers are grateful that Bill finds their bugs before the customers do. At some companies the programmers hate the testers. That is insane. It’s like hating your doctor. Your drinking gave you cirrhosis of the liver. Your doctor is just giving you the diagnosis and explaining how to fix it.

Bug tracking software is crucial for testing to be efficient and effective. Otherwise the team will waste a lot of time. We used Bugzilla but now we use Fogbugz. Either is infinitely better than e-mail and scribbled post-it notes.

Internal tools such as the customer database should be tested as rigorously as commercial software. It’s easy to slack off on your internal tools because there are just a few users and they aren’t paying for it. If you do then the whole business starts to slow down as you lose track of customers, can’t trust the sales reports, etc.

Test your infrastructure, such as servers. A written plan is not the same as walking over to a server and unplugging it from the network. We learned that recently when a server melted down and we ran around with our pants on fire for a week.

You know who to blame if an organization is slack about testing. Yes, the boss! She or he has to allocate people, money for tools, and time for it to happen. Testing can’t be squeezed into people’s spare time.

About the Author:

Jeff Butterworth is the founder of Alien Skin Software. He used to create the products, but now he does marketing and gets coffee for the programmers.


  1. Eddie August 26, 2011 at 10:07 am

    I am sure Bill is an excellent tester. But Jeff, if you make it and sell it, you better use it yourself. Then you will know exactly what works, what does not. Then you can order corrective action. Too many things are made and sold by people who never use that product. Many food producers do not eat what they sell and people are poisoned. Too many furnitures and cooking utensils are made and sold by people who never use them and they ended up with neither form nor function. Too many houses and condos are built by foreign developers who have never even seen the building. The guy who runs the post office does not even subscribe to any magazines and he does not know how long it takes for his Playboy to arrive by mail and whether the cross word puzzle in its was already done by the postman. Give Bill a hug. Please start posting photos painted by yourself.

    • Jeff August 26, 2011 at 11:01 am

      Look around the blog and web site a little. I do use and test our software. Bill is probably the only person who runs our products more than I do. Here you can watch me create a picture for one of our Snap Art ads. I also made this pencil sketch for another ad. You can see tutorials from me on using Eye Candy’s Chrome effect and the new scaling mode. I’m here every day testing our products and using them to make our marketing and educational materials.

    • Bill August 26, 2011 at 2:31 pm

      You make a very good point about developing a product and actually using it. I too have seen examples of products that looked good on paper but were poorly implemented and tested. Ever since I joined Alien Skin I find myself working more and more with image files at home. Whether I am tweaking wedding pictures for our niece or rescueing old photos and cleaning them up, our products make it easy for me to get the results I am looking for.

  2. Ignacio Galdames August 26, 2011 at 10:17 am

    nice work on alien skin. indeed testing softwares, websites and new shoes it actually very important.

    maybe a comment from bill, some funny story?

    • bill August 26, 2011 at 3:18 pm

      Being a product and/or software tester requires a particular mindset. Throughout my career working in software development I have found that good developers don’t always make good testers and vice versa. In my opinion I believe a good tester should be well organized, have a good eye for detail, be willing to learn and lastly be objective about the product they are testing. Treat the product like you bought it, not built it.

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