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  • Writer's pictureCraig Risi

Building Better Puzzles


I love building puzzles. Though I must be honest I do find it frustrating focusing on the small details and trying to piece them together when all I want to see is the bigger picture at the end. It is incredibly rewarding though when you are finally able to place a piece that has been eluding you for a long time. It’s those moments which make building a puzzle worth it. Seeing that final big picture at the end is also very rewarding.


Solution testing represents this type of challenge – with often greater complexity, but suitably, greater reward when we can adequately put all the pieces together and provide a framework for testing the completed system. Testing small components of a system is easy and most companies do this well. Its testing a wider solution that is complex and where poor testing and quality flares up. One of the obvious challenges is in taking diverse and different components and finding a uniform way to test them sufficiently without excessive regression overhead.


A big challenge that we often dismiss though is the actual art of the puzzle building. You can have the technical skills to test your bigger system, but without sufficiently piecing together what that system will look like, understanding the bigger picture of the software and identifying right coverage metrics, you are likely to end up testing the wrong things anyway

It’s our job to see that puzzle and build it. It will mean understanding not just how your broader system is supposed to work, but how the customers actually use it. It will require you to understand how the different databases, APIs and platforms fit into each other and from a testing perspective, how you can both test all these different and complex endpoints, but also have automated test cases that flow through each of these parts. It will mean knowing when a piece is ready to be integrated into the right system and ensure you have a way of easily identifying when parts are ready for a solution test and that you’re not wasting effort solution testing something that is guaranteed to fail.


It’s also identifying the fastest way to build the puzzle. You can test everything, but you should be able to identify the shortest route to maximize your testing efficiency. There is no point having the most complete looking puzzle with amazing quality if it’s going to severely affect your time to market.


That is what makes building the solution puzzle so challenging, but when it all comes together – there are few aspects of software development that will offer a greater reward.

Have fun building those puzzles.

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