I link only to people I respect and endorse. By endorsement, I mean if you have any trouble with people on this list, let me know and I'll help fix the problem.
This list is risky for me to disclose. There are many people I like and admire, but can't yet fully endorse. Maybe because I don't have enough experience with them, or maybe because I feel they need more seasoning in the craft, or maybe because I feel they have some critical flaw in their professional fiber (as I have the wit to comprehend it).
There are people who maybe should be on this list, but I have simply forgotten to include them. One risk is that a friend of mine will feel slighted to be excluded from the list. Sometimes my write-ups actually offend the person I am trying to honor.
A risk that concerns me more is that I will have to remove someone from this list because I lose full confidence in him.
Still, I feel that lists like this are valuable enough to brave the slings and arrows. This is the mild form of professional certification that derives value from one's personal standing and recognizes the standing of others.
I don't care, not one little bit, if the people I endorse here endorse me back. Or let me put it this way, I DO care, very much-- but that feeling is just a childish anachronism that no one should concern themselves with. I have to admit that a few people on this list annoy me. If I'm pushed, I would have to admit we don't like each other much... But the quality and insight in the work of some annoying people still demands my respect, and so they go on the list.
North AmericansI am biased toward the English-speaking world of testers, of course. If there are great testers who speak only Japanese, I can know nothing about them. And within the English speaking world I know America and Canada the best.
No, not that Michael Bolton, nor the one on "Office Space". The Michael I'm talking about (http://www.developsense.com) is a testing enthusiast and consultant based in Toronto. Michael has written some wonderfully insightful articles, posted on his site.
Michael and I are the co-creators of Rapid Testing methodology. Other than me, he is the only other person to routinely teach the Rapid Testing class. I have no closer colleague.
Michael is famous for rethinking the traditional phrases and terminology of testing. He convinced me to distinguish between testing and checking, for instance. I sometimes describe Michael as the Marshall McLuhan of testing. Which is an easy call considering how often he quotes the guy.
I don't recommend people lightly. There are no reciprocal links here. So it is with special pleasure that I can recommend my brother, Jon. In 1995, I helped him start his testing career, and since then he has become simply the finest test manager I know. I mean I am astonished at his ability to turn a lackluster rabble into a squad of smiling tester-commandos. Jon worked a few years at Microsoft as a tester and test manager, worked for me for a couple of years, then became a consultant for Quardev, a test lab in Seattle.
Jon is now a Director of Testing at eBay. He's pioneering new ways of monitoring and reporting on the moment-to-moment quality of a massive online service.
I consider Jon one of the three godfathers of Rapid Testing methodology.
Paul is a gifted test manager formerly of Alcatel, and is famous for his facilitation skills at context-driven peer conferences. He's the facilitator-in-chief at CAST conferences, and a pillar of the WOPR conference. He's also teaching my RST classes.
Paul is a software test consultant and teacher. He has over 16 years of hands-on testing and test management experience, primarily at Alcatel-Lucent. During his time at Alcatel-Lucent he led the transformation of the testing approach for two product divisions to become more efficient and effective. As a test manager and tester he focused on exploratory testing, test automation, and improving testing techniques. He led the creation and worldwide deployment of a new automation environment for the Access division of Alcatel-Lucent.
Paul was on the Board of Directors for the Association for Software Testing for 3 years and was on their Executive Committee for 2 years. He has been an organizer for the Workshop on Performance and Reliability (WOPR) since 2005 and has been the facilitator of every WOPR (two per year) since 2003.
Paul has been consulting and delivering training both internally at Alcatel-Lucent and externally for the past 5 years. In addition he has delivered training to other large companies such as Progressive Insurance, HP, RIM and General Dynamics and he has facilitated many software testing peer workshops held at many different companies including Microsoft, Intuit, eBay and Google.
Testing the Limits with Paul Holland, a software testing blog article about Paul Holland (by Jamie Saine) 11/12/12.
I've known Scott a long time. He's my favorite performance testing expert. He also is one of the founders of the well-regarded WOPR series of peer conferences. He's passionate and direct. My kind of guy.
Ross (firstname.lastname@example.org) is well known as one of the hardest working testing teachers and consultants out there. He's taught thousands of testers and consulted with major corporations around the world. He's been famous for years for his encyclopedic ten volume corpus of class notes (it's three feet of paper when stacked up). For a long time, that was all I knew about him. However, since 1999, he's earned particular respect in the context-driven testing community. He's become an important leader in our movement. This is because he has an unusual gift for analyzing, synthesizing, and discussing test practices. If I had to pick one particular quality that explains his skill and success as a methodologist, I'd say it's his intellectual humility. Ross seems able to listen to everyone and be open to all possibilities. He doesn't have a website, but if you email him you'll find he has an extensive catalog of classes to offer.
Ross is the main founder of the WOPR conference.
David Gilbert has been around almost a decade, but he's only recently entered the Context-Driven scene, becoming a regular contributor at the peer conferences. David is an automation specialist, and a rapid tester, as well as the author of TestExplorer, a tool that augments and facilitates exploratory testing. Wait a minute. How rare is that? A test tool vendor who actually knows how to test! There are too few, I'm afraid. David is an ambitious and challening mind-- the first person (other than my brother) to earn the Bach Certified Rapid Tester status. This is a personal certification from me, based on my personal observation of a tester's competence in the practice of tactical rapid testing.
I met Payson Hall at the first Consultants Camp I attended, in 1995. I saw him more as a drill sergeant than a thinker. He's a plain speaking man. No meeting Payson runs will wander off its agenda or take a minute longer than necessary to achieve its mission. Then one day he showed me his project management class materials, and I was surprised at the subtlety in his work. He understands, as few do, that training is not merely instruction, it is skill-building. His materials are well-crafted, with many experiential exercises and mini-games that help his students get to the why of things. His work is not just bold and practical, it's smart. I'd say it's worth going to his class just to experience his statistical simulation of schedule slippage. And if I was on a hard project that wasn't getting done, I'd call philosopher-sergeant Payson to help me sort it out.
Elisabeth is the principal consultant for Quality Tree Consulting. She and Bret Pettichord are the two best test automation people I know. She also has her own take on exploratory testing. Damn it, she teaches the same way I do-- experientally and socratically. I used to feel unique until I experienced one of her tutorials in state-based testing. It was a tour de force. I predict that any tester with a brain who takes her class will be a better tester afterward, no matter how experienced or knowledgeable they were to begin with.
Matt is another independent consultant. But he's kind of a special case. He writes a LOT. He organizes things. He coaches a lot of talented testers. He's a community builder.
With an ambition reminiscent of Cem Kaner, Matt has big plans and an emerging grand vision of the craft. I don't know if he would agree, but that's how it looks to me. He recently (2011) joined the board of the Association for Software Testing.
Doug Hoffman, BACS, MSEE, MBA, ASQ Fellow
I met Doug (email@example.com) around 1990. He's one of the charter members of the Los Altos Workshops in Software Testing, and is respected in the context-driven testing community for his wide experience and his ability to discuss and explain methodology. Douglas provides management consulting in strategic and tactical planning and deployment for creating good quality systems and software. That includes organizational assessment, technical analysis, automated testing architectures, training, and management.
Doug is currently (2011) the president of the Association for Software Testing.
Karen is an independent testing consultant based in the Chicago Area. She works on long or short projects.
I like Karen because she's nothing like me, except that she's smart. Okay, we're both smart. But if you are nervous about my hot temper, loud voice and deep scowl-- hire her instead. I think she's a great role model, too, for a non-scowler.
Cem Kaner is the senior author of Testing Computer Software, the best-selling book in the field. He is also the senior author of Bad Software and Lessons Learned in Software Testing, which we co-wrote. Cem has amazing credentials: lawyer, Ph.D. in Psychology, programmer, test manager, and even retail clothing store management.
Cem is the founder of the prestigious Los Altos Workshop on Software Testing, and co-founder of the Context-Driven School of testing and the Association for Software Testing.
Mike is an independent tester out of Indianapolis. By "independent" I mean he not only is a self-employed consulting tester, but is a man who insists on re-thinking things in his own way. I love that about him. He once flew out just to work with me for a few days. I put him through a barrage of testing exercises. You can read about it in his blog. The experience convinced me that Mike is one of the most serious students of software testing in the field. One to watch.
He's a former president of the Association for Software Testing.
I got to know Jonathan Kohl through his insightful blogging on various aspects of the testing art. Then I enjoyed a wonderful dinner with him, talking about testing philosophy and automation. He has done some great work in test automation, and recently went independent. Apart from test automation, Jonathan is an agilist who believes in testing as a skilled activity. My favorite thing about Jonathan, though, is that he is a man of integrity. He does not say pretty things just to please a manager. Work with him and you will get the straight story, always. He also teaches his own form of exploratory testing.
Brian specializes in soft-systems requirements analysis. He also provides meeting facilitation, software inspection training, and serves as an expert witness. I like Brian because he has a vision of excellence and relentlessly pursues it in everything he does. A true professional.
Harry (firstname.lastname@example.org) specializes in model-based testing. Since essentially all testing is based on models, you have to read that as formal model-based testing--the process of generating tests automatically from models that are formally specified. Harry can help you find out about this interesting class of tools. Also, unlike some people who are into cool tools, Harry's a practical man.
Johanna has a gift for getting software projects into shape by defining objectives, common sense metrics, and helping people figure out what they really want. I think the essence of her gift lies in the fact that she can connect with a wide variety of people, including prima donna developers, or philosophers like me, then find ways to help everyone function as one team. If I was on a software project, I would want Johanna to manage it.
I met Dave Smith when I joined SmartPatents in 1998. I can tell you that Dave is an expert programmer and project manager. With his help, I got up to speed in Perl much faster than I otherwise would have. Dave and I have gone through a lot of training under Jerry Weinberg, so I've seen him operate under a variety of conditions. He's based in Silicon Valley. He works at Google now.
Rob wrote the strange testing classic I Am A Bug, (illustrated by his young daughter). He's an animated speaker and a hard-driving testing consultant. A man who gets things done. Hire him especially if you have a major test project and you need someone to run it, especially if it involves working with an outsourcing company. He's been a client of my brother Jonathan's testing company and by all reports he spurred them to great feats. He also teaches a class called "Just in Time Testing" which seems to be a worthy competitor to my own classes.
Jerry Weinberg is one of the great figures in software engineering history. He's written lots of books, and all that, but where his work has touched and transformed mine is by way of his Problem Solving Leadership, Change Shop, and Systems Effectiveness Management seminars. These are the most useful classes I've taken in my adult life. After reading, writing, and ciphering, I learned most about the basic skills of work from Jerry.
The Swedish Pantheon
In my world, "Swedish tester" is becoming a stock phrase, like "French chef" or "Swiss banker" or "Antarean starship captain" (You want your hyperdrive fixed right? Go see an Antarean). I'm not entirely sure why this is, but part of it is their cosmopolitan, egalitarian culture. Skilled testers find more fertile ground, in Sweden. Also, there's good office furniture.
I intend to add Rikard Edgren, Henrik Emilsson, Martin Jansson, Tobbe Ryber, Henrik Andersson, and Michael Albrecht to this list, soon.
Eastern European Allstars
I intend to add Oliver Vilson (Estonia), Kristjan Uba (Estonia), and Alex Rotaru (Romania), soon.
The Thunder Down Under
New Zealand and Australia are beginning to make waves in the Context-Driven testing world, too.
Anne-Marie is an independent testing consultant based in Australia (though her accent is Irish). As a testing coach and trainer, she helps testers discover their testing mojo and become the testers they aspire to be. She also has a knack of transforming test teams into power houses of tester skill. You can contact her at her blog http://mavericktester.com or on twitter @charrett.
Anne-Marie (don't call her "Anne") is working with me to develop an online tester coaching methodology. I'm having a great time collaborating with her. She's vocal and full of ideas, but also respectful-- something I respect a lot, since I personally have such a hard time respecting anything or anyone.
I intend to add Oliver Erlewein, Brian Osman, Andrew Robins, Aaron Hodder, Jared Quinert and Richard Robinson to this list, soon.
My Indian Heroes
India has a lot of testers, almost all of whom are unknown to the Context-Driven School of testing. In recent years, leaders have been emerging. And this is a very exciting development.
I intend to add Pradeep Soundararajan, Ajay Balamurugadas, Meeta Prakash (and several others whose names I must carefully look up and spell) to this list, soon.
Sometimes I think the worst and the best of testing can be found in Britain. It's like the Mordor of testing, but has some hobbits, too. The ironic thing is that the intellectual underpinnings of testing originated mostly in the UK with Herschel, Hume, Locke, Babbage, Mill, Hooke, Boyle, Wittgenstein, Russell, and Turing. So how can they, with that heritage, have created the ISEB certification and be promoting intellectually empty testing standards? Sigh.
I intend to add James Lyndsay, Antony Marcano, Tony Bruce, Alan Richardson, Steven Green, and Julian Harty.
That One German Guy
Germany has no excuse. There are TONS of smart people there. How is it only one intellectual software tester has emerged from the ISTQB-addled masses to demand my respect with his work? My theory is that Germany has a more command-and-control culture, which perhaps disparages independent thought of the kind required to achieve excellence in testing. This pains me, because I am descended from Germans and I would love to visit and teach there.
Anyway, the one German guy who shines in my community is Markus Gaertner. I'll do a write-up on him, shortly.