How To Use Google’s Secret ‘Testing On The Toilet’ Philosophy To Your Advantage

Sometimes it can be hard to get little snippets of information to stick in your head, be they procedures for common workplace tasks, to correctly testing complex code. This is a fact Google recognised over ten years ago and one of its remedies was something the company calls “Testing on the Toilet”. Don’t worry, it’s not as weird as it sounds.

All the way back in 2007, Google revealed “Testing on the Toilet”, an approach to employee education that “inspire[s] our developers to write well-tested code”:

…although you’ve read the books and heard the lectures, maybe you need a little more inspiration, tips, and prodding. And you need it to be in a place where when you see it, you can’t ignore it … We write flyers about everything from dependency injection to code coverage, and then regularly plaster the bathrooms all over Google with each episode, almost 500 stalls worldwide.

The original post goes on to say that Google would regularly post these “TotT” episodes to its blog. Indeed it did and continues to do so.

Now, there are two ways you can use TotT for yourself. Firstly, you can grab the PDF versions of Google’s TotT episodes and plaster them around your office toilets. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that won’t work for the majority of people, unless you happen to work at a massive, Google-like developer.

The second, more practical way is to create your own episodes (or posters), so to speak, that are more relevant to your workplace and put them in places where they can’t be ignored. Of course, you’ll want to get your colleagues and boss onboard, as going rogue with this sort of thing is unlikely to go down well.

The end result should hopefully be better recall of these important factoids. At the very least, it’ll give your workmates something productive to read on the loo.

Introducing “Testing on the Toilet” [Google Testing Blog]

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