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The ACCU passes on review copies of computer books to its members for them to review. The result is a large, high quality collection of book reviews by programmers, for programmers. Currently there are 1918 reviews in the database and more every month.
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Title:
Lessons Learned in Software Testing
Author:
Cem Kaner
ISBN:
0 471 08112 4
Publisher:
Wiley
Pages:
286pp
Price:
£29-95
Reviewer:
Chris Hills
Subject:
testing
Appeared in:
15-6
This is a somewhat unusual book. It is made up of 293 'lessons learned' in eleven chapters. Each lesson is self-contained. The chapters range from 'The role of the tester' via 'Bug Advocacy' and various types of testing to 'managing a testing group' to an interesting section on 'Your Career in Software Testing'. Yes, strange as it may seem to programmers, some people do have a career in testing software (and I don't mean they are end users).

The lessons range from three lines to a page and a half. Though, as with source code, their worth cannot be measured by line count. Lessons vary from specific points to interesting techniques to philosophical approaches, quite a mixed bag. It is clear that the three authors have 'been there', in fact there is a lesson on what to do when a testing professional meets a manager with a deadline who wants to skip things. The format of the book means that it is pure information with very little waffle. There is not the usual narrative between points, though each of the 11 chapters does have a brief introduction.

The "software testing" is general software testing and documentation. It does not cover embedded software or related hardware testing techniques, which are a whole different ball game.

My only problem with the book is its usefulness or how to use it. I have similar books on Chinese and oriental wisdom, they too are fascinating and contain much wisdom. The problem is remembering the right proverb at the crucial moment. This book, that has many very useful lessons, will make fascinating reading but will you remember the right lessons when you need them?

I think that you need to go through the book as you start a project and plan the testing. Noting down in your notebook the number if not the text of those lessons you want to use and at which points in your project. I would also advocate keeping this book to hand during the project to read in those quiet moments for inspiration and confirmation that you are not the only one who had that last problem. Highly recommended.