Did I see a blossom return to the branch?

Posted on Posted in Everything, Miscellaneous, Software Testing

落花枝に
帰ると見れば
胡蝶哉

A haiku written by Moritake Arakida which can be translated as ‘Did I see blossom return to the branch? (No, it was) a butterfly.

When I first read this, it struck a chord with me for some reason. Perhaps it was that someone found mistaking a butterfly for a blossom or a leaf profound enough to write a poem about, or that four hundred years later it would be around for the likes of me to read and enjoy. Perhaps it’s because the nature of cherry blossoms is so very fleeting, I liked the idea of a single flower bucking the system. In any case, it’s one of my favourites.

From a testing point of view, it serves to remind me to challenge my preconceptions. Because I think something is so, doesn’t necessarily mean that it is. The map is not the territory. Have you ever edited code, and run it only to find zero change? Done variations on that for hours before realising it was the wrong file? I have, but only because I didn’t challenge my presumption that I was editing the right file.

If something isn’t working as you expect – especially if it’s one of those really excruciatingly difficult things to find, try taking a step back and examining if you can, what your most basic assumptions are – then challenge them. After all, when you really get down to it, if you rip the wings off a butterfly, it’s just another bug.

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