Quick Testing Tip Du Jour

A coworker admires my attention to detail, as observed by him in my testing that an old application still works after migrating it to a new server. He wondered whether I’d have time to help him test the various web forms on a set of pages he had just migrated to another new server. I gave him this one tip, which he felt was worth several hours of work possibly saved:

The tip:

Before you test whether something works in the new environment, verify that it was working in the OLD environment!

As a systems administrator it was not his job to actually use the website and forms he was migrating. I could tell from how the web pages were designed that they had been created at least 10 years ago(!). He said he had already learned from his boss that a couple of them are no longer used.

But the next step based on that information should be: do these forms actually work, or are some already broken in the existing environment? Doing this verification may save him hours of wasted time if he started out by trying to fix a form on the new server that was already not working previously.

This is a rather geeky example, but you can also apply it to everyday situations. For example:

  • You plug in a new toaster/hair dryer/other electrical device and turn it on – nothing happens!
  • Before getting angry and returning it, plug a device you know works into that outlet to make sure the outlet is working (note – this is a better test than just plugging the new device into another outlet, because it is possible that a fuse/circuit breaker controlling several outlets has tripped).


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