I was once talking with a friend about automation and when it should be done. I commented with him about the excellent “When Should a Test Be Automated?” paper by Brian Marick, and told him that “this is one of the three texts that changed my testing life“. I was surprised at the fact these three texts were already categorized as such in my head, and at the promptness I could think of them, at the spot.

So I want to share with you these articles, with a bit of background on them, and hyperlinks wherever I can find them. They are presented in the (chronologic) order they came to my attention.

The first of these articles is “Testing Job Interviews” by Jonathan Bach.
You may know his brother James Bach, who writes at http://www.satisfice.com/blog, but my contact with Jonathan came even before I was a tester.
As soon as I was told about the Testing Engineer position at Intel, I started reading about it in the web, just to make sure I know what I am entering into. After stumbling then upon some of the works by Jonathan, I sent him a mail thanking him for the great articles. Not only did he respond, but he wished me luck and sent me another article by him, about interviewing for a tester position. We exchanged a few emails more and that was all.
But this gave me a huge motivation for trying the testers’ position! The article summarized a bit of what a tester should think when facing a product, and gave me an insight on what a tester does and behaves. Jon’s reaction summarized how a great tester shares and communicates.
In summary, the “Testing Job Interviews” article is what started me into testing, and sure had the most impact. Unfortunately, I cannot find a link now :(, and I don’t have it within reach in order to attach it – will have to dig in the old Hard-Disks…

You can find writings by Jonathan on his old blog at Quardev or the new one here.

The second is When Should a Test Be Automated?” by Brian Marick.
If I had to analyze and review it thoroughly, it would take a series of post just for this matter. This is truly an article that grows with the reader. I read it at first when I was just starting testing software; I read it later when I was a bit more experienced. Every time I read it I learned something different, and I highly recommend this text.
One of the things it taught me was that time wasted doing other things (programming an automation, investigating a bug…) costs in bugs you did not find during this time. If for nothing else, read this paper for this.

Brian’s blog is at this link.

The third text is Software Aspects of Strategic Defense Systems” by Dr David Lorge Parnas.
I commented about it on a previous post about hard-to-test software.
This paper taught me about the difficulties of software testing and the responsibilities it comprises. It is written in a very organized and cleat way, you can read it in one sitting (I did it at the barber-shop 🙂 ).

Just let me add another point:
4) Although not a specific text, the articles and writings by Michael Bolton are very good, and he is today my preferred author. Find him at http://www.developsense.com/.

Enjoy these, then!
And if you have your own must-read articles, send me your suggestions! 🙂