It is wiser to find out than suppose. - Mark Twain

If you have found out, please share with the rest of us.

The pen keyboard is mightier than the sword

One of the coolest things the professional software tester has at his or her disposal is the ability to easily share how we do stuff. Saddly, it's one of the things we often put off till never. This is a tragedy because we can add so much to our products, our teams, our companies and our professions by just wrting down what we do and how we do it.

If your team has a wiki, you should be writing a how-to guide there everytime you learn something new. You should also write one everytime you show someone how to do something they didn't know. This week I wrote my fourth or fifth copy of my notes on how to access our private network from the regular corperate network. There is nothing magical about what I know about the subject. It's just hard to figure it out without help. Now anyone on my team can figure it out just be searching the wiki. We don't have to pass the tradition down now like stories from the age of the cave men. Neat. We can save our cave-man story time for our weekend grilling exploits or whatever.

Feed a wiki today

It just takes a few words. Poor spelling isn't a problem (Thank goodness for me!). Just get in there and write down what you know how to do that others may have to learn in the future. I spent a good portion of last week tracking down how to run some tests in a groups test harness. The harness documents were all current in 2006 and even though it's been in constant use since then, no one has written down how to use it with the newer versions of Visual Studio and .Net that have come since then. Once I get it figured out you can bet I will write it down. One of the things I am most proud of at Microsoft is the trail of documentation I have left behind. Both on internal wikis and this blog. The advice I got was to join a mail alias and ask my question. This alias isn't archived and I am sure the same 5 questions come up all the time. Think about how much collective effort the company would save if one of those experts spent an hour writing an FAQ on wiki.

Want to know how to do load testing in VS2008? I wrote a great article about that. Interested in a portable way to hook test tools up to logging engines? I wrote that one down too. Boss hassling you about how to log into the private network? I have a detailed wiki page already up for the team.

Get commited

Just update your commitements now and put an item that says you will write 1 "How To" wiki page a month. It's a S.M.A.R.T. goal, it will enhance the team long after you are gone and it's an easy checkbox on your review.