The Braidy Tester

I have been interested in computers ever since my father decided to write his doctoral thesis on an Apple //e rather than a typewriter. High school found me writing line-of-business apps (well, spreadsheets, really) for a local bank. After graduation I was off to the Illinois Institute of Technology to study architorture, another longtime love of mine. That brought a summer internship at a Chicago bank updating their as-built CAD drawings, a task which involved copious amounts of repititious tasks I knew the computer could do for me. At the end of the summer the CAD sysadmin offered me a job, which turned into a full-time position upon graduation from college.

So there I was, sysadmin'ing the CAD system, writing macros and apps to help my designers and architects. It was a natural progression from that to working on line-of-business apps that hooked into the CAD database, to ones that were only vaguely related, to apps for completely different areas of the bank. Through all that I continued to be involved with the CAD system and so when Autodesk came to town doing usability testing for AutoCAD 14 I got the call.

I don't know know whether I gave them any useful usability data, but that didn't matter once they discovered I knew VBA. They were introducing a VBA/COM object model that version and evidently hadn't found many VBA-knowledgeable customers. So I tested their VBA implementation from pre-alpha through release, and for several releases after that.

Meanwhile my main contact at Autodesk defected to IntelliCAD (which was then part of Visio, back before the Microsoft acquisition). He had been trying to get me to come work for him at Autodesk, and he continued his attempts after he moved to Visio. After spending a January week in San Diego I decided I could handle living there. <g/> Then Visio moved me up to Seattle, and then Microsoft bought Visio, and while I've changed teams several times since then, I'm still working at Microsoft.

When I look back on my LOB-app-building days, I don't know how anything I built ever made it into production. I didn't know about unit testing. I didn't know testing could be a profession. I remember being amazed at how well my manager could simulate the types of things my users would do - which is to say how well she could break my apps! <g/> If only I could transport myself back to give then-me a hand...