Friday, February 15, 2008

Testing is hard work!

I recently found myself in the beta test group for Tunnels of Doom Reboot. My initial thought was that this would be easy. After all, I do write code for a living. I regularly test my code as well as my colleagues' code. I've spent countless hours of my life playing the original; I know it inside and out. How hard could this be?

Enter a world of fantasy where your instincts and imagination determine your chances of survival. Your journey is about to begin—Prepare yourself.
–Tunnels of Doom Manual

When the beta became available to the testers, I downloaded it, fired it up, and quite frankly had a ball. That day I submitted my first 'bug report' which consisted of a 'bug' that I could not reproduce as well as a handful of usability suggestions. Shortly after that the first status report came out, with a number of reported bugs list, most of which I had seen, but not thought to mention.

My big problem was that I was approaching it like a gamer and not like a tester. While I did not have access to the design spec to confirm behavior against like I normally do, several of the bugs that I failed to report, were pretty obvious. For my part, once I realized my mistake, I fired the application back up and have since delivered the type of bug reports that I want to see when folks are testing my code.

The thing is as web developers we are all very aware of the limitations of web-based applications, and it is easy for us to ignore things that are not easy to fix. We cannot, however, let ourselves become complacent. With the help of newer technologies such as Flex, we are in a position to overcome many of the historical limitations of web-based applications. The challenge is weilding these new technologies appropriately, and freeing ourselves from the limitations and thinking of the past.

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