Interview with James Bach

On the 3rd of April 2012, codecentric organized a unique software testing training. For the first time James Bach gave his famous Rapid Software Testing class in the Netherlands. Rapid Software Testing is a way of thinking, a set of testing skills focused on how to test faster, cheaper and with better results. It’s general testing methodology, which can be adapted to any kind of project.

The training was hosted by codecentric in Dordrecht and was fully booked with 26 attendees.

Krystian Kaczor and Pascal Dufour (both from codecentric) interviewed James Bach after the training.

Krystian Kaczor (KK): You just have finished the first RST class in the Netherlands. Can you tell us about your experience? How was it?

James Bach (JB): I’m a little surprised. I didn’t expect that there would be so much energy and a creativity and intellect here. Honestly I thought that the Netherlands was a pretty dull place for testing because it’s the home of TMAP. I just wonder what could be true of the people who embrace TMAP. They must be pretty interested in pat answers and not too interested in deep analysis, right? In TMAP I don’t find support for deep analysis of anything. So I was wrong about that. Now I know there are at least 26 people in the Netherlands who wish to look at testing in a deeper way and develop their testing skills. And I am surprised and very gratified and I hope to come back soon.

KK: Great. The event was organized by codecentric. What are your thoughts about this company so far?

JB: From what I’ve heard and the people I’ve seen I’m impressed with codecentric. I feel that you guys have a commitment to agile methods that goes beyond buzz words and posturing and you seem to be developing yourselves into technically excellent people. I want to be around people like that.

KK: We know that you are organizing a totally new event, the Rapid Software Intensive on Orcas Island (north of the city of Seattle).

JB: Yes.

KK: What’s special about it?

JB: As far as I know it’s the first public testing seminar involving the testing of live software for a real company for five days. And it will result in a professional test report, which will become part of the portfolios of all the participants. My brother, Jon, who works at eBay, has arranged for us to test eBay. He will be handling the communication between us and eBay and will also be an instructor on the course.

It’s a seminar meant to teach the Rapid Testing methodology mainly through coaching on the job. We will be testing, learning and teaching people how Rapid Testing works in a live situation.

Another way it’s unique is that we have both online participants and we have onsite participants. So we have a tight group of people on Orcas (including some very talented testers such as Robert Sabourin who teaches his own testing class called Just-In-Time Testing). We will have fifty or so people online from all over the world in different time zones and we will coordinate everything through Confluence and Jira. It’s a worldwide testing effort, just like people have to deal with all the time in our industry. It’s the most vivid, realistic testing experience that my brother and I could imagine doing in five days.

Pascal Dufour (PD): Is the focus on learning testing, or is it on learning how to make the product better?

JB: The focus is on learning testing. As a side effect this eBay product will get a lot of testing. But we are not doing it to test the product. We are doing it to create a laboratory for test coaching.

KK: Does the Rapid Software Testing go together with agile methods?

JB: Yes. Rapid Testing is a methodology that exists in the minds of individual testers. The idea is to supercharge their effectiveness as testers in any situation they find themselves in. But the mentality of Rapid Testing is people oriented, just as agility is people oriented. It’s a mentality that tries to find the simplest way to solve problems or at least is a reasonably simple way of solving problems.
My method is also irreverent. I reject best practices. Now, of those only the last one conflicts with the agilists in any way. Sometimes agilists have certain practices they are excited about and they don’t consider alternatives. That’s why I don’t consider myself fully a part of the Agile community. I think that I’m agile in a small-“a” sense, but not in a capital-“A” sense. Although I am interested in Agile (notice the capital-“A”) and I can operate in an Agile framework.
I’m not personally as excited by some of the tools and practices, that Agile people like to use. Having said that, the spirit behind the agility is exactly the spirit behind the Rapid Testing. Rapid Testing and Agile grew out of the same impulse: to break away from the limiting, authoritarian forms of software project management that had dominated the industry up until the end of the 80’s. You’ll find the roots of Agile at the end of the 1980’s. That’s when I began developing my approach to testing.

KK: Do you have a general message for the Dutch testing community?

JB: Yes. I would say, look hard at anyone who claims to have best practices of testing and please begin to critically question their claims. Wake up! Begin to use your minds and develop your skills and I think you will find that TMAP is not particularly appealing or useful.

KK: Thank you very much for this interview.


Did we get you interested in Agile Testing? Beginning of June, codecentric is organizing another Agile Test Training; The Art of Agile Testing. We hope to see you there!


About James Bach

I started in this business as a programmer. I like programming. But I find the problems of software quality analysis and improvement more interesting than those of software production. For me, there’s something very compelling about the question “How do I know my work is good?” Indeed, how do I know anything is good? What does good mean? That’s why I got into SQA, in 1987.
Today, I work with project teams and individual engineers to help them plan SQA, change control, and testing processes that allow them to understand and control the risks of product failure. I also assist in product risk analysis, test design, and in the design and implementation of computer-supported testing. Most of my experience is with market-driven Silicon Valley software companies like Apple Computer and Borland, so the techniques I’ve gathered and developed are designed for use under conditions of compressed schedules, high rates of change, component-based technology and poor specification.


About codecentric

codecentric nederland b.v. is a young, innovative company founded in the Netherlands. It is started as a local office of the German based codecentric A.G.. Our core competence and business is high quality consulting in Agile software development and software quality.
What makes codecentric special are the people. We hire only highly skilled professionals with a passion for Agile, and who want to make a difference at our customers. In our Team we have specialists in Scrum, software testing, software development, performance tuning and project management. We are using Agile methods internally also for company management and the sales process. Aside consulting, codecentric organizes trainings, knowledge sharing sessions, Agile Games events and workshops. codecentric is official partner of AppDynamics.

For more information about trainings and events organized by codecentric go to