Going the Distance

The customer encountered a problem while testing our application suite. We had just migrated to a new set of tools, and a new version of the database on the back end. It took a while for me to get around to researching the problem. Luckily I was able to duplicate the problem in a development environment. I tracked the source of the problem down to some bad test data. Then I checked the database where the customer performed their tests. They had the same problem there. The fix was to write a script to correct the data.

At first when I ran the script to correct the problem, it just bombed. It logged the problems it encountered. So I manually executed each of the statements in the script until I found what the problem was. That’s when I was done with the coding. It was time to test it out. Luckily I had a lot of data that was corrupt in my development environment. I ran the script and it fixed about 5000 records. I used a tool to view the corrected data. In general it looked pretty good. I was tempted to just ship the fix at this point since I had 9 other problem to research and resolve.

Instead I decided to take my unit tests a step further. I figured it would be easiest to write another script to verify all the records were updated correctly. It took about an hour to write this unit test script. That was not too much overhead considering the time it take to investigate and code a solution to the problem. I did find some exceptional scenarios in the script results when I churned the data with a script. I just checked all 5000 outputs records for correctness. At first I just output the number of problems the test script found. Then I actually wrote the problems out to a log for further analysis.

Here in development we always seem to be in a rush because we are understaffed and overworked. But here is the funny thing. If I sent out a script that did not fully work, I would waste a whole lot more time dealing with the repercussions. Why not spend a little more time and get it right the first time? I love to code. Writing a script to verify the unit test results is just a little more coding. So it is in fact fun work. Now just don’t tell the management staff that. Otherwise they will get the wrong idea.