Have you heard about Mort, Elvis, and Einstein?  No, no... I mean in context of Visual Studio.  :)  We use these 3 personas to help guide feature development.

I did a search for these names to see what has already been published.  MS employees have already blogged about the personas, and some critics have come out against them.

A brief review of some of the criticism seems to be based on a misunderstanding of them and how they are used.  I'm not writing this to defend them, but it does bother me that the basis for the dislike is founded on falsehoods.

My understanding of the personas is that they represent work styles.  For instance, there are people who like to open the code editor and just start typing.  They use Intellisense to discover new features and learn by trying.  Others like to read up first and understand all sides of a technology before trying it out.  Chances are all of you have tried both methods at one point or another, though over time you probably trend towards one or the other.  Neither method is wrong or better.  They just "are" and it's important for us who are implementing new features to recognize that both work styles are common.  Customers expect both styles to be supported by Visual Studio.

If you want to know more about personas or the controversy around them, here are a few links to start from.

What I want to talk about is how we, in TeamTest, don't find Mort, Elvis, and Einstein to be proper work styles to describe how a manual tester approaches work.  Our usability team interviewed a lot of target customers.  They watched people working, asked them questions, and even invited us in the product group to take turns with them getting to watch and talk to these target customers.  I got to do customer visits at Safeco in the U District, and another at Getty Images in Fremont.

The new persona is called Ellen.  Whereas the other personas focus on programming approach, Ellen is not about programming at all.  She does have an entirely different history and motivation as one would expect.  She is so different from the existing 3 personas, you can see why it was important for us to create a new persona to guide our feature development.

One example of how she has impacted our direction is in our decision to build a test case management solution outside of the Visual Studio shell.  We're simplifying the user interface (getting rid of many actions and tools that she won't need) and reducing the time to install.  We want it to be easy to use, providing appropriate amounts of guidance along the way to explain artifacts and activities, and fully support her mainline scenarios with the least amount of manual work to accomplish them.

If you've seen an early preview of our work, you can plainly see we haven't yet achieved the spirit I write about.  We are dreaming of it though, and we're laying the foundation to provide all of that with each step.  You've seen CTP 8 and 10.  Soon you'll see 12.  I hope you've seen great steps forward in each CTP, and I can't wait for you to see the post CTP12 stuff we're working on now.