Test Like a Cat (Not a Dog) – Lanette Creamer
Since the days before history was recorded, dogs have been man’s best friend. Sharing our company along with our leftover scraps from the campfire, they are our companions. The loyalty, happy nature, cooperation and unconditional love a dog can provide has inspired us to keep them near for protection and enjoyment. Dogs obey the pack rules based on an established hierarchy, providing stability for the greater good. With their positivity and teamwork ability, dogs demonstrate traits that are admirable in a friend, colleague or employee. While dogs are also awesome, I believe as an industry, testers have dog traits well ingrained in our culture. It is time to move beyond, and while keeping the good traits we can learn from dogs, incorporate more tricks from cats.
Cats have a different history, being revered as Gods in ancient Egypt. They have yet to forget it. Cats will be fine with or without our approval or intervention, giving them a distinct survival advantage. Cats are charming with an alluring purr that contributes to healing as well as soothing the stress of their human companions. They not only will gladly eat what is provided to them, but recent research (2015, Dr. Gary Weitzman, Author of How to Speak Cat) has shown they meow while their humans are around in order to meet their goals. Regardless of the situation they find themselves in, a cat is actively seeking any advantage, or they are conserving their energy and awaiting more favorable conditions. Cats are observant and see well in situations where others may be at a loss, using a different method than dogs. Testers have learned to sniff out problem areas and search for nests of bugs. We hunt down bugs with determination. However, traits like patience and seeing in the dark, like a cat, when information is lacking are a huge advantage to add. Cats come equipped with whiskers (an excellent adaptable tool of self-awareness) that help them determine in advance what routes are possible, and which to rule out. Like cats, modern testers may share separate territory, be a part of a larger testing group, or be a lone feral tester in the wilds of an Agile project. Testers may have abundant requirements and ability to question developers, or they may have absolutely nothing, but you can be assured, if they test like a cat they will survive either way.
Saying software testing is dead is dead. The dog days of testing are over. Don’t work like a dog. Test like a cat!