Developer's Reading List, March 13, 2012 The best books to recently roll of the presses cover malware analysis, test automation, C#, and programming your home.
Dorothy Graham and Mark Fewster
The authors, who are well known for their classic work, Software Test Automation, dig into a selection of case studies for this book. In this effort, the authors are really assemblers and editors of the collection, rather than the actual writers. Instead each case history, or more accurately war story, the tale is written by the folks who lived it. This gives the stories a greater narrative presence, but means that the quality of the narratives varies. Most of them are very interesting, however. For example, the problems that Google ran into trying to automate the testing of its ill-fated Webmaster tools. To their credit, the authors name names and talk about the deficiencies of specific products. I like the candor but recognize that this aspect immediately dates the book, as products change and even improve over time.
All the stories ring true and at times uncomfortably remind me of similar problems I've seen, heard of, and <cough!> participated in. In some instances, the problems seem predictable and the result not terribly surprising. This dimension is likely the natural result of the narrative aspect. I am viewing the events in carefully sequenced hindsight and so can tie cause and effect neatly. And I become impatient for the participants to see what is already clear.
But it's precisely that aspect where the benefit accrues in real life. You learn that this road leads to that unpleasant destination and you know for the future that danger travels down those paths. For readers who might not latch on to those points, the authors have highlighted the warning signs and the lessons to be learned as the stories—all 28 of them—unfold.
For developers involved in testing (which today means most of you, I trust), this book is an excellent compendium of stories that are illustrative and, indeed, thought-provoking. Recommended. — A. Binstock