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Lessons Learned in Software Testing: A Context-Driven Approach

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Great software testing teams aren't born, they're made - through a lot of hard work and persuasive communication. Along the way, there is an abundance of traps that one can fall into, which can derail the best-laid plans and put your projects behind schedule.

Cem Kaner, James Bach, and Bret Pettichord know this all too well. Between them, they have over fifty years of testing experience, and know what it takes for successful testing. In this groundbreaking new book, they have compiled 293 pieces of experience-tested advice for you to put to work in your testing projects. They reveal insights on how to do the job well, how to manage it, and how to steer clear of common misunderstandings in software testing. Each lesson is an assertion related to software testing, followed by an explanation or example that shows you the how, when, and why of the testing lesson.

The ultimate resource for software testers, developers, and managers at every level of expertise, this guidebook also features:

- Useful practices and helpful ways of evaluating situations gleaned from over fifty years of combined testing experience from the world's leading software testing experts

- Lessons for all key topic areas including test design, test automation, test management, testing strategies, and bug reporting

- Advice on how to match the selection of practices to the circumstances of your project

286 pages, Paperback

First published December 15, 2001

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About the author

Cem Kaner

8 books33 followers
Cem Kaner is a Professor of Software Engineering at Florida Institute of Technology, and the Director of Florida Tech's Center for Software Testing Education & Research (CSTER) since 2004. He is perhaps best known outside academia as an advocate of software usability and software testing.

Prior to his professorship, Kaner worked in the software industry beginning in 1983 in Silicon Valley "as a tester, programmer, tech writer, software development manager, product development director, and independent software development consultant." In 1988, he and his co-authors Jack Falk and Hung Quoc Nguyen published what became, at the time, "the best selling book on software testing," Testing Computer Software. He has also worked as a user interface designer.

In 2004 he cofounded the non-profit Association for Software Testing.

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5 stars
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102 (16%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 48 reviews
Profile Image for Raluca.
48 reviews1 follower
October 18, 2019
This book has valuable content for a varied spectrum of topics, from how testers think, their role, advice about career, how to decide what to automate, planning the testing strategy, lessons about managing testing project and testing group. I would recommend it for someone who already has a job in testing software, not someone new in the field.
It is not a book you read in one sit or few. The way in which lessons are formulated make you think on your context or analyze what you could have been done in the past projects. I see it as a learning experience, keeping it on the desk for quite some time, reading some bits, ruminate insights, maybe apply some ideas and then repeat this cycle.

One more thing: this book is published in 2002, but it is not at all deprecated. Only some references to other books are to be ignored (eg: mention of a book from 2000 Testing applications on the web)
6 reviews1 follower
February 10, 2021
I think that this book is very useful for everyone who is working in the Software Testing field, with or without management roles. Besides the practical tips&tricks for every activities, this book gives an ideea of the mission (of great importance in my opinion) of the software tester within a team. The authors gathered 200+ lessons out of their own experience (and we're talking about tens of years) and the way those lessons are shared is very simple, precise and more importantly useful for every tester out there.
Profile Image for Vuk Trifkovic.
513 reviews41 followers
August 15, 2015
Outstanding book about much underrated topic. The format of short snippet "lessons" is great especially as they are grouped into coherent chapters.

The first two chapters are really good and lessons apply for many disciplines in tech companies that are not quite straight up engineering. Product management for example.

All in all, a must read for everyone who has anything to do with testing. That is to say, most of us.
3 reviews1 follower
December 15, 2017
Outstanding book about much underrated topic. The format of short snippet "lessons" is great especially as they are grouped into coherent chapters.

The first two chapters are really good and lessons apply for many disciplines in tech companies that are not quite straight up engineering. Product management for example.

All in all, a must read for everyone who has anything to do with testing. That is to say, most of us...
April 12, 2023
Радий, що вирішив прочитати цю книжку вже після 6 років роботи в якості тестувальника. Самі автори зазначають, що її можна читати в будь-якому порядку, а також можна пропускати деякі розділи, залежно від етапу в кар'єрі (наприклад, автоматизацію чи менеджмент).

Розділи поділені на короткі уроки, деякі з них концептуальні або навіть філософські, а інші мають покрокову конкретику (але деякі були дещо нудні для читання).

Автори давали багато рекомендацій по літературі, яка стосується психології, критичного мислення та розв'язання логічних задач. Також було багато посилань на спільноти та інструменти, хоча деякі з них вже не активні.

Для себе я вирішив, що це був корисний матеріал, і планую перечитати його знову. Деякі уроки мене засмутили, а інші надихнули. Було цікаво послухати від досвідчених фахівців, які працюють у цій галузі стільки років, та ознайомитися з їхніми міркуваннями та підходами.
Profile Image for Leandro Melendez.
Author 3 books5 followers
November 17, 2018
Excelente lectura que diria es casi obligatoria para cualquier tester. Muy bien hecho por @DrCemKaner , @jamesmarcusbach y @bpettichord
Me parecio en lo personal que el detalle de escribirlo en cortas y puntuales lecciones lo hizo facil y entretenido de leer. En especial para lecturas de baño donde se lee una leccion en cada visita y listo.
Las lecciones son claras, se denota que vienen de la experiencia y frusatracion que causan situaciones comunes en el testing.

Muy bueno!
Profile Image for Christoph Kappel.
308 reviews4 followers
May 3, 2022
Although I am not from the originally intended audience, I still think the book was pretty worthwhile to read. Especially since I never tried to see it from the testers point of view in that depth.

The relationship between tester and developer is really volatile and everything that helps to make it better is mostly welcome. I like the different views presented in the book, the general advise how to move your own career forward and also the management hints.
5 reviews
April 7, 2019
I read this book in perpuity. Partially because I am a software tester, and partially because as I advance my skills different parts of the book resonate in new ways. I learn something new with every reading. This book stands the test of time and is a must have for any one aspiring to be a good tester.
Profile Image for Menchie Wu.
32 reviews
May 4, 2021
I was luck to have found the book, being new to QA, this book gives a really thorough view of what is expected in testing. The advices are very practical as well.
I especially enjoy the last two chapters: “career jn software testing” and “planning the testing strategy”.
Kudos to the authors knowledge and the valuable lessons they shared.
4 reviews
November 10, 2022
One of the best books read so far about Software Testing. It has great content and I have learned a lot new things. As this book is helpful I recently found one more course online. May you find it helpful Software Testing Course in Pune
Author 1 book1 follower
August 21, 2018
I would consider this to be the quintessential book for those really interested in great software testing. Written in easy to digest, short lessons, this book should be required reading for anyone who has to deal with software testing on any level.
33 reviews1 follower
October 13, 2021
If you work in software testing, this book is a must-read. While a few references may seem a little dated, the vast majority of the content is evergreen.
Profile Image for John Paxton.
44 reviews13 followers
March 19, 2016
Anyone, at any stage of their QA career, indeed anyone that works with testers, should find something usable within this book.

While the book advocates for the context-driven software testing school it's not dogmatic E.G.,The whole point of context is there are no universal best practices no edicts on correct tool choice, languages or SLDC to follow which , unlike most decade old books on IT practices appears to have aged well.

Sadly that's not the world the C-level people usually are exposed to at trade shows, sales presentations or ads on their way through Forbes that suggest that testing looks like _____ . E.G., we read a book about how Google does it ergo that's what a start-up should do. E.G., Cargo Cult Testing of which this book is a great step towards combating, or at least having you realize you don't want to fight the company and go test for others.

The book is easily digestible, chapters with lessons learned on a topic. I.E., Working with developers, creating successful tests, how much testing is enough, etc. While you won't learn testing from this book , ok you could if you read all the supporting referenced books, your current practice should improve as a result of it.

52 reviews
September 23, 2017
Do you ever read a book that written by a wise and very experienced software testers? More than that this book is full of wisdom and advice for those who in the middle of a testing career. For me, this is that book. I very thankful that my company provides book subscription in Safari book so that I can read this book there. I don't need to wait until Amazon people send me a book from the USA to Indonesia. One of the most important wisdom from this is that the authors believe that there is no such thing called 'best practice', there is only a 'good practice' in context. The pearls of wisdom and advises in the book should be compared to our context and situation, this book guides us how to think and how to solve problems.

However, this book is not intended to be a replacement for a texting textbook. This book contains heuristics, not a set of rule or template.
37 reviews2 followers
June 1, 2016
More than half of the book is focused on testing as a profession, which isn't valuable to me, but may be to others. Some of the lessons were insightful, but most were either obvious truisms or inactionable. Overall, the signal-to-noise ratio just wasn't quite high enough.

The main value I did find was in affirming something I had hypothesized - that testing has its foundation in science, and that a good understanding of epistemology and experimental design can hugely strengthen the effectiveness of your testing. From the writing in several parts, this seemed to be the real hard-learned lesson of the author, and I noticed the vast majority of external references and recommendations dealt with this subject.
Profile Image for Piotr Lewkowicz.
4 reviews2 followers
February 2, 2023
I believe that there are only a small number of books about software engineering that everyone should read, and this book is one of them. After many years in the field, I can confidently say that I will always be able to refer back to this book. It is not only easy to read but also offers valuable insights that can be applied to your work at any time. I highly recommend this book to anyone in the software engineering field.
Author 8 books1 follower
July 26, 2010
I won this book as a door prize at RubyConf one year. It's OK, not great. As the title suggests, it's more of a collection of short essays and tips on the discipline of software testing, but doesn't focus so much on a particular methodology or set of tools. It would be a very good choice, I think, if you find yourself in a testing/QA role and need some inspiration.
Profile Image for Željko Filipin.
857 reviews6 followers
January 31, 2022
This is my second read. The first time was a decade ago. I've rated it 4 then, I'm rating it 5 now. A decade ago I didn't have enough experience to understand how important and relevant this book is. It covers everything, from the basics of testing to interacting with other people on the project, from documentation to managing teams, projects and your career.
Profile Image for Ian.
126 reviews
March 11, 2013
another book I recommend to my testing staff. My approach to testing is based on the context driven style of Kaner and James Bach. This is testing approach that is driven by results and not reports.
Profile Image for Elizabeth.
143 reviews3 followers
February 9, 2015
Classic context-driven testing indoctrination. Some interesting things I need to think through some more regarding what to automate vs. what not to automate and how to incorporate a new tester into your team.
70 reviews
December 26, 2015
This book has made a lot of sense with the testing I do for work and given me a lot to think about while testing. I enjoyed the nuggets as humor as well, keeping this from becoming a dry textbook reading experience.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 48 reviews

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