A few years ago, some of us testers at Microsoft got together to try to make an idea happen. That idea was to give a public facing view of some of the neat things that were happening in the Microsoft testing world. It was a diverse group of folks. Some of us were from the Visual Studio Team Test product group (this was the business unit that funded the initial effort). Some of us were from the test part of the Engineering Excellence group. Some of us were just testers who heard about the effort and thought it would be cool to help out. It was a pretty exciting time when we initially launched the site. That was probably the high point of the effort. We had content that we thought was interesting. There were articles on testing topics in the MSDN library, a Tester Center forum, testing book reviews, white board videos, Microsoft tester personas, a calendar of upcoming testing events. We paid a columnist to write a regular column on testing topics. We even had professional brochures that we would hand out at internal events.
After the initial site launch, though, it became harder and harder to maintain the initial enthusiasm and vision. Re-orgs happened and a big part of the initial team left the effort. When the economy had a downturn, the Tester Center budget was one of those extras that got cut. Changes in the MSDN content and web site organization were optimized for product-specific developer centers rather than non-product sites that weren't about development. And, those of us who were still trying to make Tester Center work had more demanding day jobs that took more of our discretionary time.
Recently, we were asked to re-evaluate the viability of Tester Center. The numbers weren't encouraging and, from a business perspective, we had to admit that it really didn't make sense to keep trying to make it work. The world has changed from what it was when we started the project. Back then, we didn't have as many testing-oriented blogs, twitter, facebook, testing conferences, training, and the number of current testing communities and professional organizations. For our part, we lost our funding for vendors to prep the content and so we spent an lot of time just learning how to get content through the MSDN content publishing system - no mean feat. The ideas, experiences, and conversations from and among testers at Microsoft are a lot more important than figuring out how to format an article so the tools that push content to MSDN won't choke on it. Clearly, we’d rather put our limited time in the former.
And so, we've decided to let Tester Center go. This shouldn't be taken as a sign that testing is on the decline at Microsoft, though. All of the team formerly known as Tester Center retain our passion and optimism for the future of testing as a profession and at Microsoft. We will be putting our energy in other testing efforts and projects. We will continue to blog (see Alan's, Anita's and Ron's blogs) and encourage other testers to do the same. You can follow some of us on Twitter and look for us at testing conferences. We'll be around.
One project that caught our eye and that we encourage you to check out is the Expert Testers blog – a collaborative blog with content from various testers throughout Microsoft. This is very much in the original spirit of Tester Center but updated for the current world.
To all of you who visited the site and the Microsoft folks that helped work on the project over the years, a big thank you. We all appreciate the experiences we’ve had, the people we’ve met, and the lessons we learned trying to make it work.