July 10, 2007

Read any good books lately?

Posted by Ben Simo

"I've never read a book about software testing."

- too many testers

In a CAST keynote address about recent innovations in software testing, Lee Copeland relayed a story about asking all the testers at a large respected financial company about their favorite software testing books. Lee said that every one of the testers said they had never read a book about software testing.

Lee compared this to a surgeon informing a patient that they've never read a book about surgery, but not to worry because they are a good surgeon.

I too have asked a number of testers about their training to be a tester and have often received responses similar to those reported by Lee.

I want to pass on Lee's encouragement to read. Lee also heralded the benefits of applying lessons learned outside technology fields to testing (e.g., philosophy and psychology) to software testing.

There was a time that there weren't many testing books from which to choose. This has changed. Today, there are many. There are some good books out there, but there are also some terrible books that promote practices that have not adapted to the past 30 years of advances in software development.

The list in the sidebar of this blog contains some books I've found useful in software testing. Inclusion in this list does not imply my endorsement of everything in the book. I don't necessarily agree with a book to like it. To me, a good book is one that makes me think.

What good testing books have you read?



July 10, 2007  
Anonymous wrote:

Funny you don't have Lee's book on the list - it's actually one of my favorite books on approaches to test design.

Despite it's weight, I'm also a fan of Binders OO testing book - a lot of great stuff on patterns and on approaches for model based testing.

July 11, 2007  
Ben Simo wrote:

Lee's book is on my bookshelf and I skimmed through it when I got it. I must admit that I haven't yet read much of it. This is primarily because when I skimmed through it, it didn't seem to apply to what I was doing at the time.

I read books that I find interesting. My interest is usually triggered by two things: (1) a current need to solve a problem, and (2) challenges and/or recommendations by people I respect.

Most of the books that I find useful for testing are not testing books. I've got dozens of technical and testing books that I occasionally pull off the shelf for reference or research; but the ones that have influenced me most are not labeled "testing" books.

Now that my interest has been sparked, I'll take another look at Lee's book. And for those that want to see Lee's book, here's a link: A Practitioner's Guide to Software Test Design

July 12, 2007  
Anonymous wrote:

Hello Ben,

I must say when I started "official" testing I also didn't read software testing books. And then came a time when I dived in too much into testing books (and not the good ones from todays perspective).

The last books I read were Weinberg's GST and Groopman.
But now I am "boycotting" again and read books which help me to remember my childhood (may be it is because I recently entered the group of people being older than 29 years :-) ).

Greetings from Germany

July 13, 2007  
Jeff Fry wrote:

Hey Ben. Nice list, and it was good to meet you in person at CAST. Here are a few other highlights from my bookshelf:

Weinberg's Quality Software Management series (all I've read so far is v.1, but I've heard good things about each of them.)

Weinberg's Introduction to General Systems Thinking (Not about testing per se, but excellent book about thinking, modeling and problem-solving.)

Dietrich Dorner's The Logic of Failure (social psychological study of how reasonable people's thinking breaks down in complex scenerios. I found this one both fascinating and enormously useful.)

Mike Shema's Hack Notes Web Security Portable Reference (great reference for testing web security.)

Also in my queue is Marick's Everyday Scripting with Ruby, which is designed to help testers (and others) learn to get better at using Ruby or other scripting languages to extend their reach. I haven't read it but am looking forward to it.