Written by Richard Lowe

One ofrepparttar hardest tasks for any IT department is that of testing. This is, in my experience,repparttar 107889 area where we haverepparttar 107890 greatest failures (next to estimatingrepparttar 107891 cost and length of a project) and where we have incredibly room for improvement.

I have been inrepparttar 107892 business for a long, long time, andrepparttar 107893 lack of testing never fails to amaze me. There have been times when I've received "finished" programs from developers which didn't even run! Obviouslyrepparttar 107894 code had never been tested, at least not in any meaningful way.

Before any testing can begin (and obviously this should also be done before coding starts) you must have a thorough analysis and design. You see, a program or system must be tested againstrepparttar 107895 specification and a set of standards. It cannot be done arbitrarily or randomly.

Your specification explains what your systems are trying to accomplish. The specification might say something like "a standard URL will be accepted inrepparttar 107896 address field". Your standards would state that all buffers must be checked for overrun conditions, URLs in a valid format, and so on. The standards apply to ALL testing, whilerepparttar 107897 specifications apply torepparttar 107898 specific program or system.

A very critical fact (which seems to be completely unknown to Microsoft) isrepparttar 107899 marketing department is not in charge of testing. To be done correctly, testing actually requires top-notch people who have been specially trained and who are highly motivated to do their jobs well.

You also cannot make a hundred thousand copies of a product and send it out to tens of thousands of beta testers without a clear set of goals, expert supervision and constant management and expect to get anything meaningful back. Beta testing is vital to a project, but it does not and cannot replace professional testing staff. Another fact which seems to be invisible to Microsoft isrepparttar 107900 purpose of beta testing is to test, not to market a product. Marketing is an essential part of a product plan, but it has absolutely no place inrepparttar 107901 testing plan.

What are some ofrepparttar 107902 common testing mistakes?

Testing to prove a program or system works - I know you want your programs to work, butrepparttar 107903 purpose of testing is simply to test, not to prove you arerepparttar 107904 best programmer onrepparttar 107905 planet. Testing needs to hit a program hard, right betweenrepparttar 107906 eyes. Your job as a tester is to ensure thatrepparttar 107907 program meetsrepparttar 107908 specifications, and that any deficiencies are found and properly recorded.

Trying to prove a program does not work - Again,repparttar 107909 purpose of testing is to test, not to prove anything. You should always have a well defined testing plan and follow that plan.

Using testing to prototype a product - Prototyping is an extremely useful part ofrepparttar 107910 analysis and design phases of a project. The purpose is to give your users and customers a way to see what something will look and feel like before implementing a project. Once design is done prototypes should be thrown away and not used again.

Using testing to design performance - Performance goals must be understood before a project leavesrepparttar 107911 design phase. Byrepparttar 107912 time a project is implemented (much less tested) you should completely know how it will perform (minusrepparttar 107913 possibility of bad programming, which is a different problem which testing is designed to uncover). Testing will, however, validate thatrepparttar 107914 product does perform as indicated inrepparttar 107915 specifications.

Testing without a test plan - I don't know how many programmers I've seen that just wade right in and start testing. Come on people, how can you test something if you don't have a plan? What are you trying to prove?

Testing without a specification - Remember,repparttar 107916 purpose of testing is to prove that a system or program meetsrepparttar 107917 specifications. That's all. It's very difficult to do that without a specification right in front of you. Of course, this assumes that you have a specification to begin with ...

Askingrepparttar 107918 developers to test their own programs - This is one ofrepparttar 107919 biggest mistakes (next to writing any code without a very good specification) that you can make. How can a programmer test his or her own code? First of all, programmers make lousy testers - testing is a field all to itself and programmers are almost never trained well in this area. Second,repparttar 107920 developers of a system have a conflict of interest - they want their software to work. Testers need to approach with a more open mind.

Testing without a goal - If you don't have a goal in mind for your testing, you don't know when you are done. What are you trying to accomplish? Absolutely no bugs of any kind (not very practicable)? The best goal is 100% compliance withrepparttar 107921 specifications. This does pitrepparttar 107922 burden onrepparttar 107923 analysis and design team - but that is exactly whererepparttar 107924 responsibility lies.

I - I - iMac! Hype Meets Analysts

Written by Mike Valentine

What new product gets more press attention than a new Porsche? What can generate more buzz than bear at a beehive? It's a bird, it's a plane . . . it's super fruit! Apple Computer can and does get that kind of attention, and it does so regularly. Hyperbole begins well in advance of each semiannual MacWorld, and begins withrepparttar Mac publications and rumor sites. Every Mac devotee imagines a revolutionary new product which answers their every fantasy, whether it be super fast or super cool.

This one turned out to be super cool, and at 800 MHz, it is fast, but not super fast. Some had predicted a new processor that brokerepparttar 107888 1 GHz barrier. Apple CEO Steve Jobs unvieled repparttar 107889 latest iteration ofrepparttar 107890 iMac to wild cheers from a packed house at MacWorld Expo in San Francisco Monday, then passed out several thousand copies of Time Magazine with an iMac bearing Jobs' smiling face acrossrepparttar 107891 new flat-screen monitor onrepparttar 107892 cover. The headline reads, "Flat-Out Cool!"

In a story from Pia Sarkar ofrepparttar 107893 San Francisco Chronicle, Joseph Beaulieu, an analyst for Morningstar Inc., said, "It looks kind of like a big desk lamp."

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/ archive/2002/01/08/BU119229.DTL&type=tech

"You look atrepparttar 107894 rest ofrepparttar 107895 PC industry, andrepparttar 107896 last time I checked, they were still shipping big beige boxes with wires hanging out ofrepparttar 107897 back." He is a big fan ofrepparttar 107898 design, but because design is such a significant aspect ofrepparttar 107899 new iMac, it "runsrepparttar 107900 risk of people thinking it's hideous."

Mac user sites inevitably churn out stories about great new gadgets and goodies in advance of these bi-annual shows, this timerepparttar 107901 rumor-mill was fed by a site called SpyMac.com, which presented video it claimed was of new PDA called "iWalk." Another Mac user site speculated that Apple might venture back intorepparttar 107902 digital camera arena. Rounding out their "Digital Hub" withrepparttar 107903 computer asrepparttar 107904 hub of a "digital lifestyle," either enhancing or translating multiple devices' digital inputs.

The new iMac 'barely' metrepparttar 107905 hype, said analyst Rob Enderle, but was a surprisingly fresh and catchy design. Enderle is an analyst forrepparttar 107906 Giga technology research group. Stony-faced scrutinizers can't even avoid a grin when face-to-face with an iMac. ;-) But Gartner analyst Charles Smulders suggests Apple shy away from excess. "They'd be wise to be pragmatic," he says. "Frankly, I think Apple has gotten behind a little bit and it needs to update its products, but it wouldn't be wise to go to far in this economic environment." Clearly, he hadn't seenrepparttar 107907 new iMac when he uttered that profundity.

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