Markus Gärtner

Organisation – it-agile GmbH

Role/Designation –Testing Consultant

Location – Hamburg, Germany

Markus Gärtner studied computer sciences until 2005. He published his diploma thesis on hand-gesture detection in 2007 as a book. In 2010 he joined it-agile GmbH, Hamburg, Germany, after having been a testing group leader for three years at Orga Systems GmbH. Markus is the co-founder of the European chapter in Weekend Testing, a black-belt instructor in the Miagi-Do school of Software Testing, contributes to the ATDD-Patterns writing community as well as the Software Craftsmanship movement. Markus regularly presents at Agile and testing conferences, as well as dedicating himself to writing about testing, foremost in an Agile context.

1. How long have you been involved in software testing?

Until now it has been five year. The first job I got after finishing my university studies was a job as a software tester. One and a half year later I found myself as a software testing group leader. Three more years later I started as a consultant in Agile Testing.

2. How did you become a software tester?

I applied for a job position as a release manager. I got invited to a job interview, and within the first ten minutes I was told that I was interviewing for a different position. I eventually got the job, found myself in a software testing position. Not having learned anything about testing in university, I started my path as a software tester by heavily self-educating myself about the theories behind it, and got onto the first project within the next month.

3. Why are you passionate about testing and what keeps that passion burning?

All my life I had been a tester. This lesson I realized when digging deeper into software testing. It seemed to natural to me, that it actually didn’t feel like work. I loved testing software, finding all these bugs, and informing others about the criticality of the software. If you feel the testing attitude, your passion for testing keeps on burning on its own.

4. You are very much involved in the agile community – what is it about agile that excites you?

In 2007 I was faced with the problem, that we had a test automation solution in place that was grown over the past year. We maintained that beast with a group of twelve testers and test automators over that year, but were now going to have just five tester spending their time on that. Early on, I knew, I had to do something about it. I started to dig deeper to find out about design for software test automation. I read about Design Patterns, RUP, and XP. Ever since I wondered how testers could keep up the pace with the fast development cycles of Agile development.

In February 2008 I saw there was a book upcoming written by Lisa Crispin and Janet Gregory on that topic. Since they put up some of their draft chapters online for others to review, I started to read, and provide them my feedback. After finishing that, I felt like I exactly knew what to do.

After getting back to work, we decided about how to replace our test automation beast. Within 18 weeks we completely re-wrote everything, and succeeded greatly with it. When I left the company last September most of the code was still in place. Since we lived the Agile values within those 18 weeks, I got convinced by them by actually seeing them help us. Ever since then I started to dig myself deeper into it.

5. What advice would you have for people  who want to join the IT industry as software testers?

Never stop to learn about testing. Every other week there is a new topic coming up. I love reading and learning about ever new aspects of software testing. Especially if you join the IT industry as a new software tester, keep critical with the curriculum you might be faced with, with your work as a software tester, and with your career path. Where I could, I spent much of my leisure time on self-educating me even more. There are still some things left which I want to dig deeper into. Never stop the learning. As my father used to say: “Once out of apprenticeship or high-school, your learning just started.”

6. Where do you see Software Testing in next five years?

I am bad at looking into the future. Some of the clues I see currently happening tell me that within the next five years we will probably see a two-folded development. Traditional testers eventually become more generalized due to the ever increasing influence that Agile software development has on the market. Yet, there will be more and more testers even specializing more into the topic of software testing. I especially look forward to see more and more context-driven testers coming out of this.

One of the hopes I have is that current certification programs get replaced by other programs which actually mean something once you really earned yourself a good name as a software tester. Maybe we can then start to improve our craft as software testers, finally.

7. You are a Miagi-Do black belt tester – What is Miagi-Do and how has it shaped your testing philosophy?

The Miagi-Do school of software testing is an invention by Matt Heusser. After having been approached from several sides about software testing training, he created a filter for students which actually wanted to follow-up on it, and the ones who would not do so. In that sense, he put up a black-belt testing challenge on his blog in early 2009, and I replied to that. After going through some more questions, I got the rank of a black-belt tester based on my knowledge about testing that I had shown.

Over the next few months I had several exchanges with Matt on Skype. He worked very closely with me as my mentor. From time to time he provided me insights, gave me pointers, and was a great peer to have exchanges with. I also helped him with one writing or the other at that time, and found myself able to take on additional responsibility as a black-belt instructor in late 2009.

The Miagi-Do school is a school of eager software testers working on their skills. Everyone who took an exam meant it seriously at the time, and wanted to dig deeper. We are hand-picked and showed expertise in the field of software testing. Rather than taking on a meaningless certification test, we actually have to prove ourselves in the craft. If you want to learn from us, the first challenge for you will be to find us – may be not after publishing this.

8. You are also an author – What has been your favourite piece of writing and why? How has it influenced your career?

My favorite paper was Agile practices in a traditional environment

(, accompaning my first conference presentation ever. One of the reviewers, Brett Schuchert, told me last year that he has shared this story with many clients. They all loved this story, and got convinced by Agile software development from it. Both, the conference presentation and the paper, eventually became a life changer for me as I applied for a new job – the one I currently have.

9. Your favourite movie of all time is?

Matrix. I watched it more than 50 times, I think. It was the first movie I watched in English, and can now nearly speak it by the letter. Ever since I love watching movies in English.

10. Please finish the sentence, I use twitter because…

…after signing up for it in late 2009, I got addicted to it. I share some of my war stories there, and eventually rant over weird stuff I come across. Kumar SinghaInterview with TestersInterview with TestersMarkus Gärtner Organisation – it-agile GmbH Role/Designation –Testing Consultant Location – Hamburg, Germany Markus Gärtner studied computer sciences until 2005. He published his diploma thesis on hand-gesture detection in 2007 as a book. In 2010 he joined it-agile GmbH, Hamburg, Germany, after having been a testing group leader for three years at Orga...
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Ajoy Kumar Singha

Ajoy is the founder and editor of Testing Circus magazine which is read and subscribed by thousands of professional testers around the world. He is associated with various testing forums such as NCR Testers Monthly Meet as a founding member. Follow Ajoy on Twitter.