The Ultimate List of 100 Software Testing Quotes

Sometimes metaphors and analogies simply say it best. That’s why we love to read software testing quotes because they reveal many truths about our unique discipline. From humorous to insightful, here is our ultimate list of 100 software testing quotes. We’ve included quotes from figures like Dorothy Graham and James Bach on topics spanning everything from finding bugs to test management. I recommend bookmarking this page so you can quickly whip out a quote whenever you need one. I know that whenever I write a blog post for Abstracta, I am always looking for a good, relevant quote. Feel free to share these, use them in presentations and web pages, or make tweets out of them!

A special thanks to Mike Lyles for contributing some quotes from Michael Bolton and Karen N. Johnson! We also managed to scan the web and added one of your own. 

Quotes about quality

1. “Quality is free, but only to those who are willing to pay heavily for it.” DeMarco and Lister

2. “The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.” Benjamin Franklin

3. “Quality is not an act, it is a habit.” Aristotle

4. “Software never was perfect and won’t get perfect. But is that a license to create garbage? The missing ingredient is our reluctance to quantify quality.” Boris Beizer

5. “Geeks are people who love something so much that all the details matter.” Melissa Meyer, Yahoo! CEO

6. “Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.” Steve Jobs 

8. “…Quality debt focuses on the impact of implementation and quality decisions on the end user and business; how those decisions affect their ability to do their day-to day-job.”Jordan Setters

9. “Quality means doing it right even when no one is looking.” Henry Ford

10. “Fast, good, cheap: pick any two.” Anonymous

Software testing quotes

11. “Testers don’t like to break things; they like to dispel the illusion that things work.” Kaner, Bach, Pettichord

12. “You can see a lot by just looking.” Yogi Berra

13. “Pretty good testing is easy to do (that’s partly why some people like to say ‘testing is dead’– they think testing isn’t needed as a special focus because they note that anyone can find at least some bugs some of the time). Excellent testing is quite hard to do.” James Bach

14. “A pinch of probability is worth a pound of perhaps.”— James Thurber

15. “Testing is not responsible for the bugs inserted into software any more than the sun is responsible for creating dust in the air.” Dorothy Graham

16. “To those who say that “if you need testing at the end, you’re doing it wrong”, would you prefer a Boeing, or are you going Air Icarus?” Michael Bolton

17. “The problem is not that testing is the bottleneck. The problem is that you don’t know what’s in the bottle. That’s a problem that testing addresses.“ Michael Bolton

19. “I am pretty sure there is a difference between “this has not been proven” and “this is false.” Ron Jeffries

20. “Testing is a skill. While this may come as a surprise to some people it is a simple fact.” Fewster and Graham

21. “You can be a great tester if you have programming skills. You can also be a great tester if you have no programming skills at all. And, you can be a lousy tester with or without programming skills. A great tester will learn what skills she needs to continue to be great, in her own style.” Jerry Weinberg

22. “No amount of testing can prove a software right, a single test can prove a software wrong.” Amir Ghahrai

23. “Discovering the unexpected is more important than confirming the known. George E. P. Box

24. “The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds discoveries, is not ‘Eureka!’ but ‘Now that’s funny…'” Isaac Asimov

25. “Testing is an infinite process of comparing the invisible to the ambiguous in order to avoid the unthinkable happening to the anonymous.”— James Bach

26. “We only see what we know.” Goethe

28. “The more effort I put into testing the product conceptually at the start of the process, the less I effort I had to put into manually testing the product at the end because less bugs would emerge as a result.” Trish Khoo

29. “I do believe it’s important for testers to know the market that their client or their employer is in and the reason for that is if you understand what risks your client is facing and you understand what the competing products are and where the challenges lie in the market, you can plan your testing accordingly.”Karen N. Johnson

30. “I think when you hear the phrase ‘it’s just test code’. To me that’s a code smell.” Alan Page

31. “Testers don’t break software, software is already broken.”— Amir Gahrai

32. “Documents are the corpse of knowledge.” Rick Bradley

33. “Just because you’ve counted all the trees doesn’t mean you’ve seen the forest.” Anonymous

34. “As a rule, software systems do not work well until they have been used, and have failed repeatedly, in real applications.”Dave Parnas

35. “It’s not at all important to get it right the first time. It’s vitally important to get it right the last time.” Andrew Hunt and David Thomas

36. “Simple systems are not feasible because they require infinite testing.” Norman Ralph Augustine

Quotes about bugs

38. “If we want to be serious about quality, it is time to get tired of finding bugs and start preventing their happening in the first place.” Alan Page

39. “More than the act of testing, the act of designing tests is one of the best bug preventers known.” Boris Beizer

40. “Debugging is twice as hard as writing the code in the first place. Therefore, if you write the code as cleverly as possible, you are, by definition, not smart enough to debug it.” Brian W. Kernighan

41. “When debugging, novices insert corrective code; experts remove defective code.” Richard Pattis

42. “It’s hard enough to find an error in your code when you’re looking for it; it’s even harder when you’ve assumed your code is error-free.” Steve McConnell

43. “Beware of bugs in the above code; I have only proved it correct, not tried it.”— Donald Knuth

Quotes about performance

44. “Just as athletes can’t win without a sophisticated mixture of strategy, form, attitude, tactics, and speed, performance engineering requires a good collection of metrics and tools to deliver the desired business results.” Todd DeCapua

45. “If an end user perceives bad performance from your website, her next click will likely be on your-competition.com.”Ian Molyneaux

Quotes about automation

46. “Also common is the test automation group zombie. This zombie is the practice of assigning test automation to a dedicated team of test automators. The appeal is that we can keep developers focused on writing new code instead of writing and maintaining automated tests. The danger is that test automation inevitably lags development, so feedback from testing is delayed in a way that significantly reduces its value.” Dale Emery

47. “Automation does not do what testers used to do, unless one ignores most things a tester really does. Automated testing is useful for extending the reach of the testers work, not to replace it.”— James Bach

Funny quotes

49. “Right or wrong, it’s very pleasant to break something from time to time.” Fyodor Dostoevsky, courtesy of Elena Houser’s blog  

50. “Where is the ‘any’ key?” Homer Simpson

51. “f u cn rd ths, u cn gt a gd jb n sftwr tstng.” Anonymous

52. “To an optimist, the glass is half full. To a pessimist, the glass is half empty. To a good tester, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.” Anonymous

53. “Irreproducible bugs become highly reproducible right after delivery to the customer.” Michael Stahl’s derivative of Murphy’s Law

54. “Q: How many testers does it take to change a lightbulb? A: None, they just tell you that the room is dark.” Anonymous

55. “All code is guilty until proven innocent.” Anonymous

56. “A computer once beat me at chess, but it was no match for me at kickboxing.” Emo Philips

58. “Software and cathedrals are much the same: first we build them, then we pray.”— Anonymous

59. “First law of Bad Management: If something isn’t working, do more of it.” DeMarco

60. “The only system which is truly secure is one which is switched off and unplugged, locked in a titanium lined safe, buried in a concrete bunker, and is surrounded by nerve gas and very highly paid armed guards. Even then, I wouldn’t stake my life on it.” Gene Spafford

61. “Silicon Valley is the QA department for the rest of the world. It’s where you test out new business models.” James Cham

62. “Alpha is simply that you want somebody to share your pain!” Anonymous

63. “Weeks of programming can save you hours of planning.” Anonymous

64. “Programming can be fun, so can cryptography; however they should not be combined.” Kreitzberg and Shneiderman

65. “The computer was born to solve problems that did not exist before.”Bill Gates

66. “There are 10 types of people in this world: those who understand binary and those who don’t.” Anonymous

67. “The internet? That thing is still around?” Homer Simpson

68. “I think it’s a new feature. Don’t tell anyone it was an accident.” Larry Wall

69. “Walking on water and developing software from a specification are easy if both are frozen.” Edward V. Berard

70. “I don’t care if it works on your machine! We are not shipping your machine!”— Vidiu Platon

Quotes about software

71. “As any poet knows, a system is a way of looking at the world.” Jerry Weinberg

72. “If the software doesn’t have to work, you can always meet any other requirement.” Jerry Weinberg

74. “Software is like entropy: It is difficult to grasp, weighs nothing, and obeys the Second Law of Thermodynamics; i.e., it always increases.”Norman Augustine

75. “Software is a gas; it expands to fill its container.” Nathan Myhrvold

76. “The first 90% of the code accounts for the first 90% of the development time. The remaining 10% of the code accounts for the other 90% of the development time.” Tom Cargill

77. “It’s hardware that makes a machine fast.  It’s software that makes a fast machine slow.” Craig Bruce

78. “Computers are good at following instructions, but not at reading your mind.”Donald Knuth

79. “First, solve the problem. Then, write the code.” John Johnson

80. “Any fool can write code that a computer can understand. Good programmers write code that humans can understand.” Martin Fowler

Quotes about tools

82. “Just like with everything else, tools won’t give you good results unless you know how, when, and why to apply them. If you go out and you buy the most expensive frying pan on the market it’s still not going to make you a good chef.” Christin Wiedemann

83. “He who thinks a tool can solve all problems, has a new problem.”Federico Toledo

Quotes about testers and developers

84. “We have as many testers as we have developers. And testers spend all their time testing, and developers spend half their time testing. We’re more of a testing, a quality software organization than we’re a software organization.” Bill Gates

85. “A great tester gives programmers immediate feedback on what they did right and what they did wrong. Believe it or not, one of the most valuable features of a tester is providing positive reinforcement. There is no better way to improve a programmer’s morale, happiness, and subjective sense of well-being than a La Marzocco Linea espresso machine to have dedicated testers who get frequent releases from the developers, try them out, and give negative and positive feedback.”-– Joel Spolsky

86. “I remember the days when QA testers were treated almost as second-class citizens and developers ruled the software world. But as it recently occurred to me: we’re all testers now.” Joe Colantonio

87. “Testing has to be an integral part of developing software and not a separate phase. When this approach is taken, product quality is owned by everyone on the team. It is easy to state, but hard to put into practice because of long-standing preconceived notions that developers and testers are better kept apart.”— James Sivak

Quotes about management

88. “Think outside the thought leadership to avoid being a thought follower. Adopting a good idea means you’ll still evaluate the next one.”— Lanette Creamer

90. “Having a testing specialist on the team is a valuable asset, but the role of a specialist isn’t to restrict that responsibility to a single person.”— Trish Khoo

91. “The key to building a great product is building a great team first. To me, great teams aren’t bound by roles, but they’re driven by moving forward.” Alan Page

92. “While we may understand the problem, it is critical for us to change our thinking, our practices, and continuously evolve to stay ahead of the problems we face.”— Mike Lyles

93. “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” Albert Einstein

94. “The more you improve the way you go about your work, the harder the work will be.”— Lister, DeMarco

95. “Ever Tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”— Samuel Beckett 

96.  “Earning the “annoying” label for asking questions is ok, but becoming “annoying” via your response to their answers isn’t.”— Scott Barber

 

97. “I’m pretty much convinced that if you want a team to go fast, a feeling of momentum is more important than a sense of urgency.” Elisabeth Hendrickson 

98. “If we fail, we fall. If we succeed – then we will face the next task.”— Gandalf (Tolkien)

100. “When a flower doesn’t bloom you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower.”— Alexander Den Heijer via Anne-Marie Charrett

Last but not least

Here is a bonus quote from our favorite performance testing guru, Scott Barber:

101. “Only conducting performance testing at the conclusion of system or functional testing is like conducting a diagnostic blood test on a patient who is already dead.”— Scott Barber

What are your favorite software testing quotes? Comment below!


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Federico Toledo, PhD, writes in 50+ pages, an introduction to this type of test automation. Learn about the who, what, where, when, and how as well as the potential ROI and common mistakes to avoid.