Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Life's too short to worry about slogans

Posted by Harry Robinson, Software Engineer in Test

Several readers have commented that our current blog slogan, "Life is too short for manual testing," implies that we don't value manual and exploratory testing. In fact, we are big fans of exploratory testing, and we intended the message to be liberating, not insulting.

Manual testing can find bugs quickly and with little overhead in the short run. But it can be expensive and exhausting in a long project. And manual testing is gated by how fast and long humans can work. Running millions of test sequences and combinations by hand would take longer than most people's lifetimes - life is literally too short for manual testing to reach all the bugs worth reaching.

We originally featured the "Life is too short ..." slogan on T-shirts at the Google London Test Automation Conference. One theme of that conference was that it makes sense to get machines to do some of the heavy lifting in software testing, leaving human testers free to do the kinds of testing that people do well.

If you'd like to find out more about computer-assisted testing, check out the LTAC videos as well as Cem Kaner's excellent STAR 2004 presentation on High Volume Test Automation . And if you can wait a bit, I will be doing a talk on "The Bionic Exploratory Tester" at CAST 2007 in Bellevue, Washington, in July.

I asked Jon Bach 's opinion on the slogan, and he suggested that what we are really trying to say is:

Life's too short to only use an approach for testing that relies solely on a human's ability to execute a series of mouse clicks and keystrokes when the processing power that makes computers so useful can be leveraged to execute these tests, freeing testers from especially mundane or repetitive testing so that their brains can be used for higher order tests that computers can't do yet.

I agree, but it would've been a heck of a T-shirt. :-)

Future slogans:

Testing is about being willing to try different approaches and entertain different perspectives, so a single slogan can't do it justice. We are planning to feature different slogans on a regular basis, and already have a few of our favorites lined up. If you've got a slogan to share, we'd love to hear it. Post it in the comments below or email us.


  1. Where can I get the modified t-shirt from... I neeeeeed one.

  2. I would also like that shirt! (Of course, I have so many T's already, I doubt I would buy it - but if there were to be a contest or something...)

  3. "Testing is a human activity. Test execution is for machines."

  4. "QA" is not a verb.

    And yes, I would like a copy of the T-shirt, too.

  5. I want a shirt with Jon's slogan!

    Slogans are models. Even Jon's more detailed slogan is a model. And as a model it is wrong. It is useful, but still wrong. ;-)

    Perhaps "Life is too short for manual testing" is better as a slogan -- and on a t-shirt.

    Let the machines do the grunt work and let the people think up stuff for the machines to do.

  6. Debugging sucks while Testing Rocks!!!!
    While Testing find the bug, debugging finds the cause, hence both are important.
    Expecting more useful content from this blog.

  7. Hi Harry,
    When We enter https://www.google.com/analytics/ it gets re-directed to www.google.com
    Does your team has any idea why this is happening ?? It would have been fine if we expect that user does not enter the url directly but the url is in my browser history and for last few days I could not find the cause and when I tried giving the url as http://www.google.com/analytics/ it worked fine. Is this a bug or any security feature ??

    I am posting it here as this is offical google testing blog and your team may be able to answer the questions. Waiting for your reply.

    Thanks Harry

  8. Harry Robinson - Bumper Stickers for Testers:
    here is also a list with comments:

  9. "Life's too short to spend time trying to emulate a computer."

    Like people have said, smart humans are good at figuring out the tests. We're pretty good at coding them, but in general we're pretty bad at following sequences of steps, exactly the same way every time. It's just not fun or creative! But good testing needs to be done in a boring, repetitive, reproducible way, all the time...things computers are great at. They love boring work, the more boring and repetitive, the better!

  10. BTW - Check you HTML for the mailto... I see a BUG.. ;)

  11. "If at first you don't succeed, name it version 1.0"


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