A partial pile of paper printouts

One of the many test tasks we perform is verifying that we can print to a wide variety of printers (physical printers, not just print to XPS or Print to OneNote). I've mentioned the lab we have before and even shown a photo of it there.

I was walking down the hallway the other day and noticed our tester who verifies all the printouts was busily engaged in her tasking. Here is what a chair in her office looked like:


This is a pile of the printouts she made in our lab. She goes through them page by page to verify we are printing correctly across the variety of printers in use. This is just the black and white pile - she has another pile of color printouts elsewhere.  That’s why I said “partial” in this blog title. Plus I love alliteration.

I've always thought work like this was pretty slick - you get to install a huge number of printer drivers, print for a day (or two, depending on if the printers need toner, paper, etc…) and then you get to block out time to look through the results and verify no errors. Plus, repro steps are usually pretty easy - "Here's what the printout looks like." Having a physical manifestation of a bug report makes it very easy to understand what went wrong (if anything).

There is a hidden lesson here, too. Looking at that pile of paper makes me think of what would happen if it got dropped or disorganized, or thrown into recycling by accident. All that data would be gone. It's thinking like this that resulted in our Send to OneNote printer - the printouts are stored electronically, can be searched, archived, backed up and you don’t have to worry about refilling toner, ink or paper.

But for those of us that need physical printouts, at least we know OneNote can handle the variety of printers out there.

I just want her to get finished so that the comfortable chair is back and ready for human use <grin>.

Questions, comments, concerns and criticisms always welcome,


Comments (4)

  1. mvadu says:

    I am a tester by profession, and seen the value of carefully looking at printouts. We had a project to generate PDF's which will then be printed to sent to end customer. My teammate  tested the intermediate pdf's on the screen and with black and white printer with reference template, and both looked exactly same.

    Then came user acceptance testing, and our business user came with a ruler, and asked for printout. He logged defects for font (Arial Narrow in template a different but similar used by code) color and indentation (2mm difference) which is impossible to catch just by looking at content on screen.

  2. JohnGuin says:

    Yep, it is always possible that the content for Print Preview does not match what is actually printed.  It's the role of test to verify the two match.

  3. Aidan says:

    Couldn't this be automated using a scanner?

  4. JohnGuin says:

    Possibly, but that is a very difficult task (especially when the paper size is too large for the scanner), and the time needed to scan the pages is not trivial…

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