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WatirCraft announced

Bret Pettichord announced his next big thing yesterday: WatirCraft, a company around the popular testing library Watir. In his announcement Bret explained that WatirCraft is making a few bets:

  • “We are betting that we can build a business around making testers successful with automated testing.”
  • “Pete and I are making a bet …[on] the vision … automation is about code and success requires understanding code, and making code understandable.”
  • “We are also betting that people want and will be willing to pay for a framework that is easier to use.
  • “We are also betting on Ruby.”
  • “We are also betting that the growing use of Agile Development practices will continue.”
  • “We think testers do have a significant role in the future of automated testing.

Based on my experiences over the years I think that Pete and Bret have made a lot of reasonable bets.

At Agitar we had literally hundreds of companies as customers, which is pretty significant when you realize that our prices started at around $35,000 and went up to seven figures. That’s a good indication that there’s a market for helping people succeed at testing their software.

From my time in QA doing test automation with the Mercury tools I agree that successful testing required actual coding. I think this has been a barrier to success with traditional automation attempts, at least in Silicon Valley. To be a successful required coding skills but if you had coding skills there was a higher paying higher prestige job waiting for you in development. It has gotten to the point that it is actually more difficult to find a good tester than it is to find a good developer because development is such a compelling brain drain.

But Bret’s right that agile development is the future and “testers on agile teams are being hammered by shorter iterations“. Because automated testing is so key to successful agile development I think this means market forces should swell the ranks of tester-developers and developer-testers. (Of course since I used to blog at DeveloperTesting.com it isn’t surprising that I feel this way…)

Finally I think WatirCraft is right to focus on the tester side of this equation. I was exposed to dozens of teams all over the world while at Agitar and what I saw was very consistent. There was widespread interest in developers testing their code but often only because you were supposed to as part of “going agile”. I saw only a few teams where the testing done by developers was considered to reduce traditional testing to any great extent. Companies want their developers developing, not testing, so I’d agree that the bulk of future test automation will belong to testers.

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