Friday, September 20, 2013

Where CDT fails: Rebuttal?

tldr: How do we bootstrap the next generation of testers?

So I decided to attempt to refute JCD's thought's on CDT. I think JCD was trying to say, "How does one learn testing in the CDT community?" But in trying to refute the idea that CDT stuff is easy to find and everywhere "out there," it occurred to me how much does one have to know to progress further? Is part of the journey of CDT the self-discovery of the path? When the student is ready, the master (in the form of classes, blogs, books) is out there for you to find?

Then I wrote a rebuttal anyways:

I consider myself a CDT practitioner but it's been a long and arduous journey to get to where I am (like much of the people I've chatted with).

Can we as a community bootstrap the next generation quicker onto the correct path of sapient testing? I read a blog one time that said, "I can't tell you what to learn next, everyone is different." But that doesn't mean we can't bring a list to the table and say, "Start somewhere here." When you've progressed far enough with that move to something in this more advanced list, etc.

As I've been trying to mentor two newb testers in the last couple of years, I've found it hard to just say, "well read all this stuff," as one of them is not a read-a-book-learner type. I've been struggling with what order they should learn it in. Is there stuff that honestly shouldn't be touched upon until they have some serious experience under their belt? I've come to the conclusion that as expected it depends on the individual and their internal drive. 

Coaching with Bach, Bolton or Charrett (
Pick 1 for a month
  Session Based Test Management (
  Thread Based Test Management (
  x Based Test Management (
  Tours (
Rapid Software Testing (
Rapid Testing Intensive Online (
CAST Videos (
BBST Foundations, Bug Advocacy and Test Design (, or if you just want to self-study  
book: Lessons Learned in Software Testing (
book: How to Break Software (
book: How to Break Web Software (
James Bach's blog (
Michael Bolton's blog (  

What ever a non-beginner / non-advanced student is called:
Weekend Testing: America (
Weekend Testing: Australia / New Zealand (
book: Testing Computer Software (
book: Agile Testing (
book: Exploratory Software Testing (
An insane number of blogs, I can't list them all. However a good place to start is anyone who is published here…(

book: General Systems Thinking (
Anything written by Jerry Weinberg
ISST webinars ( (Don't know where to classify these…as I haven't seen them yet)
book: Tools of Critical Thinking (
Cem Kaner's blog (

This list isn't all inclusive, it's what I found or could remember off the top of my head in 17 minutes.

Now I will admit I've been following CDT off and on as a lurker for the last 5-6 years. Pulling ideas from the community when I feel there is something for me to learn. So it might be a little unfair to say "off the top of my head in 17 minutes.". As really I've been logging a lot of them into my subconscious as they come up.

Last I want to include these pieces: ISTQB and ASQ if you haven't personally looked into them, you need to. You need to understand what they are and how they 'certify' you. You can't diss on someone or something without understanding it. Sometimes you need to know what isn't a good way to do something in order to: recognize the bad stuff and to find a better way to do it.


  1. Isaac, very nice post. Did you seriously log all of those links in 17 minutes?

    This is a great starter list. This is also along the lines of what we are trying to do with WHOSE. I agree that it can be tough in the "it all depends" school of testing to know where to go to get what knowledge at what time in your career. We all seem to be figuring it out for ourselves, on our own.

    As for the certifications bit, I agree. Don't just listen to the cool kids who happen to be denouncing something/someone. Find out for yourself. Think for yourself. I once held a CSTE from QAI, so I feel perfectly comfortable speaking to my dislike for that certification. Based on what I know of the ISTQB from reading their posted paterials, I feel comfortable stating my dislike for that certification as well. I have done nothing to look into the ASQ certs, so I do not speak of them at all.

    1. Well it was more then 15 and less then 20...I just split the difference. :)

    2. I am going to WHOSE (In Isaac's stead) and I think part of the reason for my blog is because I do find it frustrating that the information is scattered to the 4 winds. I guess the fact that CDT doesn't provide many 'mind maps' (a think testers seem to love) of what they think might be useful for different stages of personal development makes CDT seem like a less useful approach.

      Then there are questions that are not completely clear, like is there a way to create a general context->useful practices that can be created? It seems like in my reading of Kaner's tour post, it could be done, but no one is doing it.

      Certs are an interesting thing, as they do tend (from my personal research) to define all the context and then go from there to define how the activity should work, no matter the company, context, etc. That is to say, they say how test should work. I don't know that this is wrong if you can follow Mark Twain's advice, "I've never let my school interfere with my education.", but I do think it is limited.

      Isaac: I know you don't think that is a complete rebuttal, although I do think it is a awesome list, which I do think improves CDT. I just wish there was a central repository for that information.

    3. "In Isaac's stead" is the wrong verbage :P JCD submitted a proposal and was accepted. I'm just covering his workload while he's off hob-nobbing.

    4. Psh, you'll be expecting me to provide you all sorts of useful details when I get back, meaning that I'm just your personal note taker! :P As for work load, you know that isn't never mind that, yes, I'm sorry you will have to do like 3x the work now.

  2. Nice. This is a problem quite a few of us have been struggling with - it is nice to see a fresh angle on it, and some depth of material. Thanks man.

    1. Glad to hear some people out there are in the same boat :)

  3. Even with about 7 to 8 years of testing under my belt, I still see myself as a noob in the realm of SQAE. I didn’t consider the work that I did a career until I encountered innovative minds within the field (*ahem* Isaac and JCD being most, but not all of the inspiration). At first, I was so excited that I soaked up all of the information like a sponge, doing my best to keep up and be informed. Until at one point I felt comfortable in my methods of testing; I let personal life take over for a bit, leaving expansive critical thinking on the back burner. A recent realization is that the analytical mind of a tester is always active; it needs to be challenged, open, and expanded. Get uncomfortable, keep reading, keep learning. Much like our high school teachers and college professors, our work is never done - the things that we can improve upon are vastly immense.

    To touch a bit on what Isaac stated: as a noob, you hand me a book I’ll stare at it blankly and think, “boy, that ‘Metaphysics of Morals’ looks pretty enticing in comparison”. For some reason, you send me a bunch of links on random small snippets of information I’ll be more willing to read and let it soak in. Another thing that helps is inciting random small debates regarding subjects or schools of thought that I am not very informed on – forcing me to think on my feet and willingly acquire the info at a later date for a delayed rebuttal. At this point in my career I think I am more receptive to book referrals, actually getting excited to dig in and form my own opinions.

    Some may think of it as a career, a hobby, or a burden. Learning and getting better at what you do is ALL about internal drive. You can sit there and talk about the various aspects of agile testing till you’re blue in the face, unless they’re willing and receptive - your words will fall on deaf ears. Part of being a kick ass tester means searching and learning various methods to cultivate your own platform on your own time. Taking advantage of the mentors in your area instead of depending on them to drive you.