Offside – How Being A Linesman Helps My Testing

Kids Playing Soccer

Now that I’m settling into life in Grand Rapids after my move over from England, I wanted to start connecting with the local community. I’ve already made contact with the GR Testers but wanted to connect more, so I followed one of my other passions, soccer.

Getting a bit old in the legs to play, I decided to become an official, which meant starting off at the bottom of the ladder being an Assistant Ref (linesman) for kids 10 and younger.

I’ve now done a couple of games. It’s fun, helps the kids learning the game (there are never enough officials), but also gave me some thoughts about software development and personas.

As a linesman I now look at the game with different eyes — I’m looking for infringements of the rules. As a tester this comes naturally, so I’ve taken to this new role like a duck to water. I have no emotional connection with the outcome of the game — win, draw or loss makes no difference to me. Just as long as I don’t have to make any controversial decisions and upset the parents.

I usually take the line on the side of the pitch that the parents are on, which means I hear their comments (none directed at me so far), and I know they have a different view of the game than I do. They are hoping their team does well, that their child has a good game, and (for the protective parents) that their offspring does not get a ball in the face or cleat on the knee.

As an ex-coach, I know that the coaches will have yet another perspective on the game — they will also probably want a win, but they’ll really be keen to see that the kids are putting into practice the skills they have been taught during the coaching sessions.

So, one game and three different outlooks on it.

In the same way, one piece of code will have different users with totally different viewpoints on what is important to them when it runs. For example, the help desk manager is likely to want the app to be easy to use to avoid support call meltdown, a system admin might want fine control over what they can set up, and a power user might want to be able to set up shortcuts so they can get their tasks done quickly.

As a soccer nut I’m hoping my officiating will help everyone enjoy the beautiful game.
As a tester I hope that by finding the faults I can benefit all the users of the program. Being aware of all the different personas using the program helps with that goal.