Rookie Blog Post Mistake

I’ve made a rookie blog post mistake early in the new year:

Why am I posting a 2017 blog post when it’s already 2019? :O

That is, I forgot to remove a scheduled blog post I’ve made in the past and it got published recently. Some of you might have gotten the post through email and wondered why I’m talking about 2017 and maps. It’s a little embarrassing; that post should have been in the trash a long time ago but for some odd reason I didn’t delete it until now.

Maybe I thought there was an idea worth saving in there which I forgot to review. Or perhaps I just got lazy.

I’ll just think of this as a reminder that mistakes are always bound to happen. And what’s important is how we behave and what we do when they happen.

The post is gone now. And I am sorry about the weird blog post. I’ll make adjustments on my end so that it won’t happen again.

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Flutter Dev Intern: One Month In

A month ago, I got accepted into a no-pay internship program volunteering as a Flutter programmer. It’s an interesting learning opportunity; I’m working with four other programmers from around the globe who personally don’t know each other, building native mobile apps on our free time. The program runs for six months, so I suppose I’ll be writing code with these guys until around April next year.

Team chat over at Discord 🙂

Even though there’s no pay and I spend time to help the team finish given app challenges, what I get in return is an insider experience working with a remote team as a programmer myself, instead of being a tester. That means I need to pitch in on the actual application code, and pitch in with a respectable level of quality. Although I already work with programmers on my day job, the communication dynamics is a bit different from what I encounter on a daily basis. It’s a good change of pace, and I’m somehow broadening my horizons a little.

Most of this past month’s challenge erred on the side of communication: talking to each other over at Discord, familiarizing ourselves with other people’s style of writing code, and gauging our roles within the team. It’s been fun so far. 🙂

A 7-Year Run

It’s been seven years since I got employed at the private company I currently work for. I didn’t set out to be employed for them this long but the pay was okay and there was a lot of freedom in the testing work so I stuck around. That freedom allowed for opportunities to learn and improve on the testing (and software development) craft consistently, even though there really wasn’t any in-house training available, as long as I managed myself well year in and year out. At that time, I thought that all I needed was time to train myself and so that’s what I did. I managed my tasks well, I asked people and the world wide web questions and tried their suggestions one at a time, and that pattern continues to this day.

Don’t know where to start testing? Look at what’s available, see which ones could be interesting, and then just dive right in to those. Too many things to test? Find which features are most important and start with those, not worrying too much about testing everything. Found something odd? Ask the customer whether it’s something worth exploring. Think a particular task isn’t worth doing over and over again? Automate it, if there’s really some value in automating it. Not technically savvy? There’s tons of materials out there you could study a little at a time. Something troubling the team? Ask and listen to what they have in mind. Is a certain process annoying? Find out why that is and think whether there’s something you can do about it. Bored? Do something else. Tired? Take a break. Want to get better at a particular skill? Read books and blog posts, watch webinars or take courses, and build projects with what you’ve learned. Day in and day out, the fun is in hunting for intriguing problems to solve and testing one possible solution after another. And the trick in having the most fun is in finding out what problems are worth solving for, both for your customer and for yourself.

Yes, it’s been an extraordinary seven years. I got the growth spurt that I wanted while performing valuable work on time. Now thinking about it, I’m actually not sure if there will be many years more to add to that record, but all is well because it’s been a great run.

One Month with Flutter: Some Notes

Wait, what, it’s already been a month? 😮

It apparently took me an exciting month to build a moderately intricate multi-page mobile app, powered by Flutter, with custom calendar and credit card views. The designs for the pages already existed, which was good because I did not want to worry about designing an app for my first try with Google’s SDK and the Dart language. I only wanted to test-drive writing the code for the user interface and find out what tools and structure I could use for managing state and data, given a relatively short span of time. A month isn’t enough to understand everything about the framework but I did learn a lot from the experience. A realization: I can totally write mobile apps now if I want to.

Some notes I’d like to remember from the exercise:

It’s Alright to Make Mistakes

Looking at the screenshot above, it’s ironic that there’s a mismatch between the commit message and the actual pipeline result from the tests after pushing the said commit. 😛 What happened was that after making the unit tests pass on my local machine, I fetched the latest changes from the remote repository, made a commit of my changes, and then pushed the commit. Standard procedure, right? After receiving the failure email I realized that I forgot to re-run the tests locally to double-check, which I should have done since there were changes from remote. Those pulled changes broke some of the tests. Honest mistake, lesson learned.

I frequently make errors like this on all sorts of things, not just code, and I welcome them. They bewilder me in a good way, and remind me of how fallible I can be. They show me that it’s alright to make mistakes, and tell me that it’s all part of the journey to becoming better.

And yes, testers can also test on the unit level! 🙂

 

Guard Up

Knowing how to automate things and building scheduled tests to monitor known application behavior does not guarantee bug free apps.

They do help boost confidence in what we’ve built, and that makes us more comfortable releasing changes into the wild, because it means we’ve explored a fair amount of feature breadth. It’s not the only strategy I’m sure to use given some software to test, but it’s something I’ll practice every after thoughtful exploration.

But, even with that tool to augment my testing, I have to keep my guard up. Every time, I should keep asking myself about the more valuable matter of the unknowns. What sort of things have I not considered yet? What scenarios might I still be missing? Have I really tested enough or am I merely being overconfident, just because I can automate?

Choosing Variables

We consider a lot of things when we build and test software.

Who are our customers? On which browsers or platforms do we target to deploy our application? Does our software load fast enough for a considerable number of users? Are we vulnerable for SQL injection and cross-site scripts? What happens when two or more people use a specific feature at the same time? Is our API stable and structured well enough for its purpose? How easy is it to set up our apps from scratch? Do we handle rollbacks? What metrics should we monitor on production? Do we feel happy about our happy paths and other not-so-happy paths? What actual problem is our app trying to solve?

There’s a fair amount of room for making mistakes. Bugs can creep in where there are gaps. Some errors are likely to occur while we are building and testing stuff because there’s just so many variables involved.

That’s how things are. There’s not one but several moving parts. It’s up to us to decide whether to be overwhelmed at the complexity or decide to get better at finding out which things to look out for and learn those.

The same is true in building and testing the life we choose to live.