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Jamie Thomson

This is the blog of Jamie Thomson, a data mangler in London working for Dunnhumby

Kids don’t mark their own homework

During a discussion at work today in regard to doing some thorough acceptance testing of the system that I currently work on the topic of who should actually do the testing came up. I remarked that I didn’t think that I as the developer should be doing acceptance testing and a colleague, Russ Taylor, agreed with me and then came out with this little pearler:

Kids don’t mark their own homework

Maybe its a common turn of phrase but I had never heard it before and, to me, it sums up very succinctly my feelings on the matter. I tweeted about it and it got a couple of retweets as well as a slightly different perspective from Bruce Durling who said:

I'm of the opinion that testers should be in the dev team & the dev *team* should be responsible for quality


Bruce makes a good point that testers should be considered part of the dev team. I agree wholly with that and don’t think that point of view necessarily conflicts with Russ’s analogy. Yes, developers should absolutely be responsible for testing their own work – I also think that in the murky world of data integration there is often a need for a 3rd party to validate that work.

Improving testing mechanisms for data integration projects is something that is near and dear to my heart so I would welcome any other thoughts around this. Let me know if you have any in the comments!


Published Friday, November 23, 2012 2:38 PM by jamiet

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AK said:


As an Agile developer working at a very Agile shop, I do not think data integration in general is more difficult than other areas of development. As such, we are treating ETL just like all other code: we run all kinds of automated tests and have no testers at all.

I think that SSIS is really difficult to unit test and version control in our Agile environment. So I have removed all SSIS from our solutions. That done, we just use standard programmers' tools for our ETL tasks.

This approach works extremely well for us, allowing to change ETL easily and with confidence, maintaining high quality. A small amount of time spent developing ETL in C# paid off multiple times, allowing for faster/easier automated testing and completely eliminating the need for dedicated testers.

November 23, 2012 5:35 PM

RichB said:

Perhaps not, but they should make an effort to ensure they get good marks!

This usually involves at least reading over it to make sure they answered the actual question in a cogent manner...

November 26, 2012 5:33 AM

DanielP said:

I am just about to present a continuous integration framework for the BI department I work for. I agree with AK in that database development has been falling behind other development areas/practices probably because it has been difficult to understand for DBAs if they were the ones developing or not so many people have worried about it. I believe database development should be treated as any other branch of development (C#, Java, whatsoever) and Microsoft is just making it easier with SSDT and VS for Database testing. For Build management we are currently using Team City but I have used TFS Build server in the past and I see no reason why not do it.

I also agree in that Testers and Developers work together to implement a quality solution to some problem, hence we should work as a team for that main purpose and not separately confronting each other. In the past developers seemed to be so good no one saw the need for testers (LOL) but since software engineering practices are here to improve processes I believe testers are also here to stay and help us all deliver better quality projects.

November 27, 2012 5:20 AM

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