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..I have learned to first check what the test-data is being used for. If it can end up in a presentation to the customer or the boss, some jokes can be, ehrm.. unprofessional.
But yes, there's often a Bacon Ipsum in each multiline textfield. When creating test-data, I use a fantasized company that insures broom-sticks (complete with logo's ofcourse). The added bonus of reserving for Narnia or Mordor is that when an order actually accidentally makes it to production, it is (hopefully!) easily recognizeale as nonsense-data. So yes, next to humor it is also defendable as being usefull.
Sander Rossel wrote:
I know some people, especially customers, need test data to be "the real thing".
How 'real' is data? And what data is involved? Do take into account that it may have some privacy-implications if you are going to use a copy of 'real data', like that it may need to be anonymized.
Remember, security starts with paranoia
Bastard Programmer from Hell If you can't read my code, try converting it here[^]
The added bonus of reserving for Narnia or Mordor is that when an order actually accidentally makes it to production, it is (hopefully!) easily recognizeale as nonsense-data
Or a lawsuit for lots of spilled fuel!
Eddy Vluggen wrote:
How 'real' is data?
I used to work for meat processing companies (yes, as a vegetarian, I know...) so they had a product, like tenderloin, that I would use for testing. So whenever the customer tried to explain what he wanted and we looked at some test data together he would laugh at me for putting a tenderloin in an order by some French customer that never orders tenderloin and then having it shipped by some Russian transporter (while the customer was in France). I really don't care what customer I ship too, or what transporter delivers the goods, none of that mattered for the test, but he just couldn't work like that. So yeah, he'd recreate nearly every test case we had so it fit a real world scenario, whether it was important for the test or not.
Not only test data. Years ago I worked for a company that archived documents. The documents were archived on CDs by robots, along with a viewer to view them when needed. I had to add two menu items, one to activate the toolbar and one to make it disappear.
Instead of naming them 'Toolbar ein' and 'Toolbar aus', I named them 'Einbartool' and 'Ausbartool', just for fun. Then we got the news that the UN wanted to use the archiving system and they quickly needed the viewer translated to French. They literally ripped it out of my hands as soon a I had written my last line of code and sent it to a translator. A day later we got a mail with the question:
"Qu'est ce que un 'Einbartool'?
"I don't know, extraterrestrial?" "You mean like from space?" "No, from Canada."
If software development were a circus, we would all be the clowns.
Depends on the project, some I do and some I don't. Typically, for the projects I pull from production to dev/test frequently I don't. But if I'm in the early phases of a project that hasn't seen the light of day yet, I'm more inclined to do so. Also, depends on my mood... and planetary alignment.
We recently demonstrated a system to the manager of the primary user having put in test data where we labelled a module "Finance Management". This was a label on a view and we said straight away we could change it to anything he liked. Said manager spent the next 30 minutes explaining why the label was invalid.
He later wrote it up as a problem with the application.
Morale of the story, make you test data nonsense, not something close to reality, even a manager can't focus on nonsense for too long.
Never underestimate the power of human stupidity
Ouch, been there once My guess is that those people are so extremely incompetent, and know it, that whenever they see something new, like "Finance Management", they freak out. Giving you a thirty minute speech on why the label is invalid is just to verify his own knowledge and position. Writing it down as a problem makes him feel powerful.
Mycroft Holmes wrote:
even a manager can't focus on nonsense for too long
Why do you think that? Managers made nonsense their job!
Managers have to be incompetent in order to be promoted out of harms way. I remember one, very senior manager asking me how to make a video player play. I suggested he should press the button with the word 'Play' on it. Blank response. He didn't even recognise sarcasm.
We're philosophical about power outages here. A.C. come, A.C. go.
Mostly not. But recently I found test data for an application I was working on to mention occupation as terrorist. Don't know who created that but we were scared to deny anything to that particular user.
Generally I use a copy of the real data to make the testing more faithful. But if I don't have real data and create a mockup, it has to be obvious that the test data is fake so I don't forget to exchange it for real data later, so yes hilarious it is. Or bacon ipsum[^] if I'm lazy.
It's only after the contract is fulfilled that you have a production database, so the vast majority of demos are done with development databases, to describe to/train customers on "what you are going to get", and the docs guys can't wait until the product is installed and working customer-side to produce umpty-bagillion pages of documentation for it.
One aspect of professionalism is that of not giving your colleagues a sh1tty time for no good reason.
Another is that of not wasting money -- the guys who have to spend hours, days, and weeks making corrections to cover the little jokes have to be paid for their time.
Another is that of not putting the company in the position of being embarrassed in front of customers.
Could you remind me again what the plus side of the little jokes is?
If you want to joke, come to the Lounge; don't go to potentially customer-facing material.
I wanna be a eunuchs developer! Pass me a bread knife!
The downside to using actual data is that I have to know the domain I'm working in. I recently did some work on something for a toxicology department. I'm no toxicologist, I just used stuff like "WATER" and mixed it with "FORMALDEHYDE" as that is something I saw in the docs. After that it was just "TEST" and "SUB OF TEST". Not something you want customers to see, but what else am I going to put there?
If someone wants a demo let them create a separate branch of the software that's sure to stay frozen with a database that has exactly the records you'd expect in the demo. How the hell are you going to demo a constantly changing product anyway?
The downside to using actual data is that I have to know the domain I'm working in.
Just use values that don't sound like schoolboy jokes -- you don't have to be an expert to look at the customer's web-site and pick a few pointers from there, or to google "list of toxins".
References to Star Wars, LotR, Harry Potter, etc, not only make the company look foolish, but also make it a lot harder to explain what the program is doing -- whereas if you use something similar to what the customer will be using, they'll "get it" instantly -- so they have to be replaced in a mad panic, and/or edited out of screenshots.
That's not to mention that developers often use obscure fonts in UIs, so the correct font has to be found, then made to look exactly the same size as the other text in the screenshot (which could be at any zoom, not just font size), and then fuzzed/sharpened/blended in with its background the same as the other text (which was rendered by the GUI, not by the graphics tool that has to be used to fix it) -- it's a sh1tty, time-consuming task.
Put it this way: it's a damned sight harder and more stressful than spending five minutes on google, so reserve that treatment for people you hate, not for guys you don't know (but who will learn to hate you)
Sander Rossel wrote:
How the hell are you going to demo a constantly changing product anyway?
There is no "how", there's just a "you have to".
0. If you use Agile, "you have to" show them what you've got at least once each sprint.
1. If you're working on a closed or high-secure system, they can demand to see what you're doing any time they want.
2. Even if !0 and !1, you can rest assured that you have colleagues who have to constantly "show and tell" with the customer.
I wanna be a eunuchs developer! Pass me a bread knife!
A company I worked for a while ago (who shall remain nameless) used to demo their product using standard demo data that was created by the test team. Unfortunately, some of the developers would often amend the demo data when testing their new features. Some of them would create customers such as Mr Erectile Tissue or Mrs Fanny Flaps and the like. You can imagine how this went down at demos to prospective clients
"There are two ways of constructing a software design: One way is to make it so simple that there are obviously no deficiencies, and the other way is to make it so complicated that there are no obvious deficiencies. The first method is far more difficult." - C.A.R. Hoare
I worked for a DMV and the database usage was tightly tracked, as even the Dev & Test databases were loaded with real customer data. Theft of that data was a real problem, so we were warned to not search for people, etc.
So ... in the Dev and Test environments, when I needed fresh test data the safest thing to do was use my own ID (the system listed everything I had owned in that state). When I left that job I had more than 70 cars titled in my name, including Lamborghini, Ferrari, McLaren, Saleen, and Maybach. I had fun researching the cars ... the MSRP of my collection was about $65 million.
For test data, we use production data that we merge with test data. Primary key/Unique Ids in production start at DB default of 1, test DBs have been "juked" to insert new Ids starting at 1,000,000. This keeps refresh logic really simple.
I had some alpha revision software that I did with a joint venture.
If their interface ever returned an error code, I had programmed some hard stop/system level message boxes with messages like "Karem f%#$# up again: api [1-5]". Karem was the developer from the joint venture company.
I return from the trip and barely have it integrated back into SCM (without changing the "fun" messages), when the president shows it to a customer after I told everyone, including him, that it was not ready for release yet.
Thank goodness Karem was a good programmer! No messages appeared, but I am sure I would have been fired if they had.
Test data isn't the only area for making fun. One of my colleagues, like so many others, issued crazy error messages for "impossible" error situations that will never occurs. We believe. The day following a major release, on customer contacted us by email, asking for the meaning of this strange error message, "Balla henger på fjøsveggen". My colleague nervously answered that it indicated an internal error (which was certainly true), and the message carried essential information to the software developers. The customer was satisfied. The 'essential information' can roughly be translated to "The balls are nailed to the cowshed wall".
Licensing terms are another field of fun, even in released products. However, if that internal tool I maintain, with approx 200 internal users, is to be relased to customers, the licensing terms will probably be rewritten - or replaced with the standard text on which it is based (and I guess some of you can identify). I update the text from time to time (and I would be happy to receive proposals for those sections that are not much modified from the template). Currently, it reads: ______________________________________________________________________________
<company> has previously made versions of this software available in more or less buggy versions. If you received an earlier version of the software that contains bugs with whom you have made friends and would like to keep, you are hereby entitled not to install the new version, and ignore the conditions specified by this Tool License.
Common Pubic License Version 1.0
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c) the following Friday, two large size pizzas (one Pigs Knuckle, one Rio Grande) are delivered from Peppe's Pizza Pub at the Contributer's expense to the premises of the <company> Software Development group, no later than 2.pm.
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Way, way back, in 1992 I worked for Worldspan (now Travelport) on an accounting system used by travel agencies. We had printed test plan binders, 3 inch binders, where each step was it's own page. DOS screen shots. Anyway one of the values you were required to test with was an abbreviation of Whitesnake, I think it was whtsnk. There were several other hair metal bands as client/traveler names but we were REQUIRED to use the Whitesnake one.
I finally asked why and was told that in previous versions of the software that client name caused the system to abort. Apparently it was some sort of internal command in the database software being used and they found it by accident because the QA person was a hair metal fan and she used all the band names as her client test data.
Even though they no longer used that database software, I think it was an early version of rBase, Whitesnake lived on.
We had an error message "Houston, we have a problem!" for something that should NEVER happen.
Of course, it happened during a TEXAS install. LOL. The confusion that ensued was comical.
I think we TOAST this error message and that event every time we get together.
But more realistic test data has been my push, because the point is that errors should be obvious.
Funniest thing that happened with bad test data. 1984, I wrote a program to keep track of books checked out of the school library. My teacher input "The Sex Life of an Aardvark" as the book. And then the output came: (Oopsie Lawson was the student name he used):
Oopsie Lawson now has The Sex Life of an Aardvark until XX/XX/XX.
OMG, the tears of laughter... Then Ms. Lawson walks in... You cannot imagine. Remember it was High School. We were stupid, and immature. And funny. LOL
I drive a 2013 Chevy Volt. Coolest car I've ever owned. The dashboard display has all the bells and whistles and whatnot. It shows me messages in plain text (or some cute little graphic) for pretty much everything. Tire pressure for each tire, low traction, battery vs. engine usage, temperature, blah blah blah. If you open a door, a little car icon shows which door is open, etc. you get the idea.
So here's the thing...
The little door that covers my charging port gets stuck once in a while. And when it does, the FREAKING CHECK ENGINE LIGHT comes on! No message, no clue whatsoever as to what's actually going on.
So what do you think? Did Chevy go over budget and couldn't afford to add ONE more error message? Did they really think people would figure out that the check-engine-light could also mean something wrong with the charging port door? Seriously? I mean if I was the programmer for that thing, I would have "gone the extra mile" and added the charging port message.
There's probably a diagnostic code that you could get from the OBD port.
#SupportHeForShe Government can give you nothing but what it takes from somebody else. A government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take everything you've got, including your freedom.-Ezra Taft Benson You must accept 1 of 2 basic premises: Either we are alone in the universe or we are not alone. Either way, the implications are staggering!-Wernher von Braun
Just today I worked on the tool that keeps track of the microcontrollers and their software versions in prototypes of new vehicles. Quite possible that they did not bother to spend much time developing a new code version, possibly requiring a microontroller with more memory. It's the testing that makes such a change quite expensive. They probably used an existing controller and software version and put this sensor on an unused input.
"I don't know, extraterrestrial?" "You mean like from space?" "No, from Canada."
If software development were a circus, we would all be the clowns.
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