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Quality, per J.M. Juran, is fitness for use. The presence of attributes and features that  will satisfy customers, users, and other stakeholders, as well as the absence of attributes (e.g., bugs) that will dissatisfy them.

Resources for “Quality”


Testing is an excellent means to build confidence in the quality of software before it’s deployed in a data center or released to customers. It’s good to have confidence before you turn an application loose on the users, but why wait until the end of the project? The most efficient form of quality assurance is building software the right way, right from the start. What can software testing, software quality, and software engineering professionals do, starting with the first day of the project, to deliver quality applications?

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Quality Software

By Rex Black

I suspect that, in the near future, many types of software will become commoditized, just as many types of computer hardware have. The open-source phenomenon is leading the way, with Linux and Apache ascendant on the Internet. Regardless of the motives of the partisans of open-source software, the motives of the important business users of these open-source applications are clear: They want cheap software with the same quality levels as the commercial alternatives. 

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Testing can be considered an investment. A software organization—whether an in-house IT shop, market-driven shrink-wrap software vendor, or Internet ASP— chooses to forego spending money on new projects or additional features to fund the test team. What’s the return on that investment (ROI)? Cost of quality analysis provides one way to quantify ROI.

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Information appliances, which provide simplified, easy access to specific information such as e-mail and Web sites, promise to bring the benefits of computing to a wide customer base, including some computer-averse people who have hitherto avoided buying a computer. Internet appliances are evolving from personal computers, game stations, digital mobile phones, and server technologies. While this allows us to apply well-known quality assurance techniques, including testing techniques, the software quality professional must remember that the risks to product quality are different; the quality bar is higher, especially in terms of usability, robustness, and harmonizing the appliance with the dynamic Internet. Customers will assess the quality of information appliances by the degree to which the appliance reliably, quickly, transparently, and intuitively provides them with access to the desired information, and we expect them to be much less understanding of glitches than the current PC user. Information appliances are gaining wide acceptance—millions will hit the market in the next few years—so many of us who practice software quality professions will spend time working on projects to develop them. Indeed, we expect that information appliances will present tremendous opportunities to those who seek to bring quality to software in the new millennium. This paper presents the test team’s findings on one such project.

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"Back in 2010, at the launch of Core Magazine,, I wrote a series of columns to welcome people to the magazine. As a sort of Throw-Back-December, here they are, as they appeared in the original magazine issues. I hope you enjoy them."
-Rex Black
Greetings, and welcome to my quarterly column on software testing best practices.  When I was asked to write this column, I had to choose the approach, the theme.  The writers' aphorism says, "Write what you know." So, what do I know?
Well, if you know me and my consulting company, RBCS, you know that we spend time with clients around the world, in every possible industry, helping people improve their testing with training or consulting services, or doing testing for them with our outsourcing services.  Our work gives me insights into what goes on, the actual day-to-day practice of software testing.

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Engineering Quality for Bananas

By Rex Black, Daniel Derr, Michael Tyszkiewicz

[How can dumb monkeys built from free tools help you? Give this article a read to see a case study.  Originally published in Software Testing Professional magazine in 2008, these ideas and techniques are still relevant to SDETs, Technical Test Engineers, and Technical Test Analysts looking to build their own automation solutions using open-source components.]

Arrowhead Electronic Healthcare has been creating eDiarys on handheld devices since 1999. Arrowhead helps pharmaceutical research and marketing organizations document important information about how their products are being used in patients’ homes.

ePRO-LOG is Arrowhead’s third generation eDiary product. The primary design goal of ePRO-LOG is to be able to rapidly deploy diaries used for data collection in clinical trails and disease management programs.

A typical diary may include 100 forms translated in 15 or more languages, and used in several locales. This results in a large number of software builds and configurations.  As a result, we needed an automated test tool to address potential risks and to automate common tasks.

The most important quality risks we wanted to address were:

  • Reliability
  • Translation completeness
  • Functionality of UI
  • Input error checking
  • Verification of requirements

We needed an automated test tool with the following capabilities and features:

  • Address defined risks
  • Produce accurate form-flow diagrams
  • Reduce tedium and opportunity for error in manual testing
  • Save effort associated with manual testing for these risks
  • Improve time-to-market by reducing test cycle duration through 24x7 testing
  • Provide auditable documentation
  • Handle any screen flow or translation without custom test scripts (i.e., be trial-independent)
  • Be easy to implement and cost effective

This is a case study in how we reduced our risks and achieved our test automation objectives in just a few months on a total tools outlay of $0.

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Skynet Has Arrived

Recorded February 25, 2015

Towards a True Engineering Profession

Recorded February 18, 2014

Ten Bugs that Shook the World

Recorded January 2, 2014

Is Testing a Waste of Time and Money

Recorded October 23, 2013

Podcast Episodes

As we all know, quality does not happen by accident. And it certainly doesn’t happen by trying to test out bugs at the end of the lifecycle. So, how can we manage quality from start to finish? If we start with a focus on good requirements on the first day of the project, how will that affect the system testing at the end of the project? In this talk, Rex Black will talk about lessons he’s learned in over 25 years of software engineering, across the entire software lifecycle.

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In a perfect world, we would have boundless time and resources to deliver systems with plentiful features, each feature having perfect quality. In the real world, we must balance schedule, budget, features, and quality. When schedule, budget, and features get all of the attention, we have a quality quandary. In this webinar, Rex will discuss ways that test professionals can help their project teams resolve that quandary. First, it’s important to recognize the trade-offs being made, and then test professionals can promote the five elements of making successful trade-offs: shared vision; disciplined management; quality in, and bugs out, throughout; focused testing; and, sending the right message. Rex will illustrate these five elements with a variety of case studies and examples.

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Are test management and quality management the same? Are they different? How are they related? Many people are confused about these questions, and that confusion results in many problems for test teams around the world. Rex Black has seen that confusion first-hand, and has helped clients resolve the problems that confusion can cause. In this talk, Rex will provide five key lessons in how to recognize the confusion and resolve problems, illustrated with case studies throughout. You will leave this session ready to provide clear leadership in test management and quality management, and to help your organization achieve successful testing and quality.

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Webinar: Ten Bugs that Shook the World: 1/2/13

Length: 1h 3m 5s

Software quality in general is pretty bad. If you’re a professional tester, that statement is no surprise. What does surprise people, even testers, is how much damage a single bug can do. In this free webinar, Rex will examine case studies of ten bugs that caused at least $1,000,000 in damage, the death of at least one person, or both. Beyond just recounting the bug and its damage, we’ll look at how—or even whether—better software testing could have detected the bug before it did its dirty work.

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Webinar: Towards a True Engineering Profession: 2/18/14

Length: 1h 14m 28s

The software profession is evolving rapidly, and software testing is also evolving. Some people talk about software and software testing as a “craft,” but are we doomed to remain in such a primitive state, like medieval swordsmith’s guilds? Or, as the phrases “software engineering” and “test engineer” have long implied, can we advance to a true engineering profession. What is the history? What can other engineering professions teach us? What do other engineering professions have, and how can we go about creating analogous resources for software engineering? What will a true software engineering profession mean for testing? Join Rex for this imaginative trip into one possible future, based on science and engineering facts.

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What would John Connor, son of Sarah Connor, hero of the resistance in the “Terminator” movie series, say about the Internet of things, the ubiquity of mobile devices, the fact that we almost ran out of IP addresses, software that updates itself, and other signs of the coming computer apocalypse? He’d probably tell us to pull the plug, quickly! Beyond the nightmare scenario of the “Terminator” films, what are the implications of quality, and lack of quality, for the now-real situation that everything is connected to everything else? Will it be Neuromancer, “Terminator,” androids dreaming of electric sheep, or something more benign? Join us for some fun and interesting speculation and prediction on the future of limitless connectivity.

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Why Does Software Quality (Still) Suck

Length: 4h 20m 0s

Software quality, for the most part, sucks. It still sucks, seventy-five years since the advent of the programmable computer. Software bugs are a constant fact of life, thanks to the ubiquity of software and the ubiquity of software bugs. Sometimes the bugs costs millions of dollars or kill people. Why is the reaction so muted? Rather than just accept software bugs as unavoidable, let’s ask the obvious question: Given that manufacturing is able to achieve six sigma levels of quality—i.e., only three defective items per million manufactured—why does software quality still suck? In this webinar, Rex will address some of the real barriers to achieving six sigma quality in software, while at the same time holding software engineering as a profession accountable for not doing nearly as much as we can.

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Let’s suppose you bought a car. Six days later, someone from the dealership let himself into your garage, removed the tires on the car, installed some “updated” tires that actually had holes in them, and then left. In the morning, your car was there in the garage, all sad and undriveable on its flat, flabby tires. That’s clearly unacceptable, in fact even criminal, but we allow the same thing to happen all the time with software. Why? In this webinar, Rex will catalog infamous automated software updates, released without sufficient testing to wreak havoc, or at least inconvenience. He’ll then give a detailed roadmap for reducing your chances of being part of the problem.

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Some people use the terms “verification” and “validation” interchangeably, but there are significant differences between them. Some people disparage verification, or deny that it’s even involved in testing. However, you can’t adequately build confidence and reduce risk in the software you test without using the proper mix of both. In this webinar, Rex will clarify the meaning of these two terms, give examples, and explain why both are essential to proper software testing.

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Webinar: Two Bug Metrics, Millions in Process Improvement

Length: 1h 20m 50s

When we do assessments, we always try to look at process metrics. In most cases, we can find millions of dollars in process improvement opportunities. In this webinar, Rex will show you how two very simple bug metrics, calculated using only two simple facts for each bug report using simple, free spreadsheets you can get from our website, can reveal millions and millions of dollars in potential process improvements. All the more reason to track those bugs! To paraphrase Timothy Leary: Tune in, download, and drop software co

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ISTQB Virtual Advanced Security Tester Boot Camp

The Advanced Security Tester Boot Camp course, created by Rex Black, past President of the International Software Testing Qualifications Board (ISTQB), past President of the American Software Testing Qualifications Board (ASTQB) and co-author of a number of International Software Testing Qualifications Board syllabi, is ideal for testers and test teams preparing for certification in a short timeframe with time and money constraints.

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ISTQB Virtual Advanced Test Automation Engineer Boot Camp

The Advanced Test Automation Engineer Boot Camp, created by Rex Black, past President of the International Software Testing Qualifications Board (ISTQB), past President of the American Software Testing Qualifications Board (ASTQB) and co-author of a number of International Software Testing Qualifications Board syllabi, is ideal for testers and test teams preparing for certification in a short timeframe with time and money constraints.

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Black-box Bug-a-thon

If you are looking to spend one day learning powerful test techniques in a hands-on way using real apps, and having fun while doing so in a friendly yet competitive setting, this black-box bug-a-thon is for you.

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