Interview with Brent Strange: The Best Software Tester In the World

The votes are in and it’s official. Brent Strange has been crowned “The Best Software Tester In the World”. Over the course of  the 27 day voting period the software testing world was quite a buzz. Articles, blog posts, forums, and clubs have been consumed with facts, opinions and skeletons for the 7 candidates over the last 4 weeks. QA hubs such as StickyMinds, TestReflections, SQAForums, and SoftwareTestingClub were overtaken with this “best in the world” shakedown as QA professionals and interested developers voiced their opinions. Oddly enough, the recent and parallel presidential campaign even took notice.

An interview in the to be published June edition edition of Better Software Magazine  between Vimh and Brent bring to light why the community’s decision on this heralding QA Engineer was not just Internet viral:

Vimh: So Brent, how does it feel being declared the “Best Software Tester In the World”?

Brent: I’m speechless Vimh. I don’t deserve this. I test. I do my job. There is no Best Tester In the World. We all bring Quality Assurance to the table in our own unique ways. Honestly, this award should go to the entire Software Quality Assurance community.

Vimh: The people have spoken Brent. You are the “Best Software Tester In the World”. How do you think the community came to that decision?

Brent: I’m not sure. I’m guessing that those that I’ve worked with past and present voted for me, others I assume were followers of my small footprint in the QA community with my blog If not acquaintances or followers I suppose it was just viral. 

Vimh: Is it true that you once found and reported 70 defects in one day?

Brent: [Laughing] No… it was 59 defects, but technically 14 of those were enhancement requests.

Vimh: That’s a sign of somebody thinking outside of the box I suppose.

Brent: Inside and outside. You’ve got to be both places at once in this business.

Vimh: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Brent: Testing. Writing software to making testing easier and faster.

Vimh: How about 10 years?

Brent: White sand beach with Corona in hand.

Vimh: [Laughing] Sounds like a great goal!

Brent: It’s not a goal Vimh. It’s destiny. The Internet is gold mine my friend.

Vimh: Agreed. If all goes well I’ll see you on that beach with my trophy wife.

Brent: See you there Vimh. I’ll see you there…

Vimh: So now that you are empowered with the title “Best Software Tester In the World” do you picture yourself strutting into a developer’s cube and saying “listen to be me beeeaaaatch, it’s not “function as designed”, it’s a freakin’ defect and you’re gonna fix it”.

Brent: Uhmm…No.

Vimh: How about: “Hey dumb-ass, you ever heard of unit test?”

Brent: Dude, not funny. We’re all on the same team. [Pretty pissed off sounding] Listen, turn this interview around or I’m going to have hang-up.

Vimh: Okay, I apologize….Brent, you’ve had a few “skeletons in the closet” exposed during the last month.

Brent: Yes, 2 of them to be exact. I have the “never went to college” and “has no testing credentials” monkeys on my back.

Vimh: Do you think that hurt or helped your campaign? 

Brent: [Laughing] Call me a “Rocket Scientist”, my “un-educated” guess says “help”.

Vimh: Why do you think that is?

Brent: The reality of it is that a QA Engineer’s greatest skill is the openness and ability to lean quickly and then apply it towards quality initiatives. You don’t need a degree or certificate to do that. Matter of fact, I don’t even know of an entity that teaches that skill. I think the SQA community recognizes that. James Bach has brought that to light for us.

Vimh: Interesting. So you’re saying that anybody can be a good tester?

Brent: Not “anybody” but “anybody that is open to learn anything, has the ability to lean quickly, and then apply it toward a given task”. Software is “anything”, it changes daily. SQA Engineers have to stay on their toes and be able to use anything to help prove something.

Vimh: I never thought about it like that. Wow, “anything” is a lot to learn! That’s respectful. It’s known that you don’t care to manage QA. Why?

Brent: I’m a tester AND teacher at heart. Historically a QA manager relentlessly fights the quality assurance battle all day and often times compromises due to budget, schedule and company ignorance. His/her persistence typically pays off in the long run (several years sometimes) though. But…Have you ever taught a fellow QA Engineer something they didn’t know and then see that twinkle in their eye when they envision using that lesson in their testing tasks? It’s awesome! To me, that’s finding more defects by teaching other people to find defects. We BOTH just made software better…together. [Loudly] AT THE END OF THE DAY!

Vimh: Sounds like a pyramid scheme!

Brent: You said it! I’m a walking “QA Amway” and “QA Mary Kay“!

Vimh: [Laughing] Is it true you once said you knew the LDAP protocol to gain a Development team’s confidence and respect for testing, but you really didn’t know anything about it?

Brent: ONCE? [Chuckling] QA is often looked down upon because they are the 2nd tier information receivers and are expected to magically know everything right off the bat, which is near impossible. A developer can sit, stew, learn, and write code for a new technology for days, weeks, or months and then simply hand it off to QA expecting them to know the same AND know how to test it. To ensure quality and gain respect of that developer I need to  be “open to learn anything, have the ability to lean quickly, and then apply it toward the given task”. The Internet is my best friend. So, yes. Quite often “I am clueless, I make sure I project confidence, I go learn the subject after the fact, and then complete the task”. There is no harm in that is there?

Vimh: No, I guess not. Especially when you hammer a project with 70 defects in a day.

Brent: [Laughing] Yes, especially when you hammer a project with 59 defects…

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