Spilling Cheques – On the Limitations of Testing Tools

Spell chequers are grate butt bee careful ore ewe mite still have sum miss steaks.

No, that’s not right.

Spell checkers are great but be careful or you might still have some mistakes.

That’s better; still not what I wanted though. Why is the “careful” bold?

The first man on the Moon was Louis Armstrong.

Now that sentence was spelled correctly, and the grammar was correct, but the fact was wrong.

I can use tools to help me write this blog post, but I also need to be aware of the limitations of those tools. The opening sentence shows the limitations of a simple spell-checking tool. A more advanced tool could pick up the context and know that I’d used the wrong words (but then I would wonder how many levels of buffalo it could deal with). A spell check would also not pick up the fact that, in the second attempt, a word had become bold. Was that my intent or not?

Is there a tool that would check any facts in this post and alert me that I had the wrong Armstrong? Unless WordPress is hooked up to IBMs Watson, then it’s not going to happen.

Even once I’ve run spell check, done a quick manual look-through, and checked the facts, is it ready to publish? No, the post should be a good read. Is there a tool to check the “goodness” of a blog post? Doubtful, as “good” is subjective. Is the post amusing? Educational? Informative?

Luckily for all of us at Atomic (we all blog) we have editors who look at the posts and provide a human critique. Similarly with the programs we write. We make a lot of use of automated checks, but also make use of the services of a human tester.