In gesprek met Elfriede Dustin

Op donderdag 23 juni geeft Elfriede Dustin een keynote tijdens de Test Automation Day 2011, het onafhankelijke jaarlijkse evenement over geautomatiseerd testen. Als zijnde media-parnter van het evenement kreeg de kans om haar nu alvast een aantal vragen te stellen.


On Thursday the 23th of June Elfriede Dustin will be the keynote speaker during the Test Automation Day 2011, the independent and yearly held event about automated testing. As being a media partner of the event had the change to ask her a view questions upfront.

Elfriede Dustin works at Innovative Defense Technologies in the USA and has a B.S. in Computer Science with over twenty years of IT experience, implementing effective systems analysis and automated testing strategies, both in Government and commercial environments. Elfriede is a frequent lecturer, and author of various publications and books, such as co-author of the book “The Art of Software Security Testing” and author of the books “Effective Software Testing”, “Automated Software Testing”, “Quality Web Systems” and her latest book “Implementing Automated Software Testing: How to Save Time and Lower Costs While Raising Quality’”

The questions:

Hi Elfriede,

1. Can you introduce yourself and explain how someone from Germany with a business degree becomes a tester with a computer science degree in the USA?
I had the opportunity to study computer science at Kansas State University in Manhattan, KS and graduated with a computer science degree . Then I spent a few years working as a systems analyst in Nahbollenbach Germany for Ogden Allied Services working on an DOD parts inventory tracking system and then afterwards got the opportunity to work as a QA analyst at CACI, Inc in Arlington, VA, where I was introduced to an automated testing tool called SQA (later bought up by Rational, which then was bought up by IBM, i.e. Rational Robot and Rational Functional tester)  and the rest is my automated testing history. I realized automated testing is the solution, trying to test today’s technology manually is not efficient.

2. Can you describe your testing career? Which roles did you had during the years?
After the QA Analyst position I had various roles/titles as Test Manager and QA Director and currently am working in a Program Management and research and development role.

3. Why the big ‘love’ for automated testing?
It is apparent that today’s technology can’t be tested with yesterday’s manual testing techniques.

4. On Thursday the 23th of June you will be the keynote speaker during the Test Automation Day 2011. Can you tell us what the subject of that presentation will be and why?
The subject is automated software testing and the future. Why? It appears that research and development  focuses mainly on the latest development technologies, few technology companies focus on the how to test these latest and greatest technologies.

5. How do you see the future of Automated Testing? And do you think it will be possible to test a piece of software without any human involvement in say 20 years?
Yes, it will be possible to test a piece of software without any human involvement in say 20 years, probably even sooner. Take a look at some of the autonomous software development and related research efforts.

6. Do you have an opinion on all the testing tools that are available for supporting the automated testing process? Are the vendors on the right track or are they missing the point?  
Most testing tools focus on graphical user interface automated testing. That is the area where automated testing can be most brittle and is an area that needs a lot of improvement regarding how it is approached. More on that in my presentation.

7. I read somewhere that you enjoy spending any of your free time getting smarter in your chosen field of testing. So what are you doing in your free time to achieve that? And are you sure you don’t have any other hobbies or sports you like to do? 
The company I currently work at allows me to become smarter in the testing field, we are implementing solutions at the cutting edge of testing technologies. I read QA blogs and various QA forums, but I definitely enjoy many other hobbies in my spare time, such as hiking and a variety of exercise activities.

8. You once gave a presentation with the title “Software Testing Starts When the Project Begins”. Can you give us a short summary on that subject and tell us what your message was.
Yes, software testing is not anything that can be tagged on to the end of the development lifecycle, software testing needs to be an integral part of software development which starts at program inception.

9. You once started the website with the purpose to create a community of software professionals in the Washington DC area. It looks like there is not much activity on that site. What happened?
We have a new website, called which focuses on our upcoming software testing conference in Arlington, VA in September 2011. However, in my spare time I will try to refocus my attention to our original website.

10. Two years ago you posted a tweet in which you said that there should be a social networking solution in which they integrate Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin or Plaxo, because you didn’t know which one to update. Did you already found one?
Yes, there seem to be a variety of applications that provide that solution

Thank you Elfriede, for your time and answers.

Marco van der Spek