I cannot say the word “PumpKing” without this image
popping into my head ;).

This is a bit amusing, a bit serendipitous, and a whole lot of awesome all rolled into one. I don’t typically talk about my company in this blog unless it’s to make a general point or to highlight something I find interesting, and today’s comments fall squarely into the latter.

For quite awhile now,  I’ve been hoping for a window of opportunity to look at and open up some venues of more technical engagement for both myself and the software testing team, in ways that go beyond writing automation scripts. One of those opportunities literally fell into our laps a couple of weeks ago.

My company has a long running and enterprise level product that was originally written in Perl. As part of the development process, over the years, we have had a movable role of build manager, code health manager, deployment specialist, front line troubleshooter, and whip cracker all rolled into one. The term (that has a lot of history in the Perl community) for this role is the “PumpKing” (holder of the pumpkin, they who keeps the system afloat, the puller of the strings, themz who pulls the taps to keep the good stuff flowing, call it what you will).

The responsibility of PumpKing has been handed off week after week to the various programmers in a round-robin fashion. A few weeks ago, I made an aside about one of the programmers (who I happen to be good friends with) not living up to their responsibility as “PumpKing”. This had to do with running stand-up that morning, i.e. it starting late, and my comment was totally in jest. Their response was (and with a smile, I might add):

“Well, Michael, if you would like to get into the PumpKing rotation, we can certainly arrange that!”

I chuckled, thinking the comment was likewise in jest.

It wasn’t.

At our next Engineering team meeting, said programmer made a motion that “all software testers should join the PumpKing rotation”. I snickered again, thinking this was follow-up on the joke. What I was not prepared for was when our VP of Engineering said “I think that’s a great idea!”

After I did my double take, and realized that I was not being punked, I stopped and thought about what an awesome opportunity had just been handed to us. Why is this an awesome opportunity? Because in one fell swoop, the potential number of “active duty build and deployment engineers” just went up considerably. For a group of software testers looking for an excuse/opportunity for more technical engagement with the development team, we were just given the keys to a gold mine.

Needless to say, there’s a lot of learning to be done so that we can do end to end builds, merges, CI, testing, deployment to various environments and interacting with Ops to make the final pushes to production. Additionally, the PumpKing runs stand-up during their week, is on call for issues, interacts with front line support for rapid response of issues, etc. It’s kind of a big deal!

I’m excited because this is a real opportunity for those of us that want to have an avenue to better understanding of the technical underpinnings to really get into it. We have the potential to do hot fixes if needed, we are responsible for pushes in our development and staging environments, as well as with pushes to production. It’s visible, it has the potential to get wild, and it’s a great way to get knee deep in the muck and grime of the real code base and understand how everything fits together. In short, it’s a dream come true for a software tester wishing there were some way to more effectively blur the lines between programmer and tester.

These past couple of weeks have been all about learning the ropes, practicing along with the current PumpKing, and getting ready for my turn in the saddle… which starts this coming Monday morning and extends to the following Monday morning.

Let the festivities begin ;).