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Interview with Greg Turnquist, Author of Python Testing Cookbook
Greg is the author of our recently published Python Testing Cookbook which contains over 70 simple but incredibly effective recipes for taking control of automated testing using powerful Python testing tools.
Greg is a professional software engineer who works for SpringSource and the author of Spring Python 1.1. He is a test bitten script junky who always seeks the right tool for the job. He has developed mission critical 24x7x365 systems and is constantly reading about the latest in software technology and practices, looking for ways to help his team and company. He is an open source advocate and has made contributions to things like MythTV, Spring Security, Mediawiki, and TestNG's Eclipse plugin. He graduated with a Master's degree in Computer Engineering from Auburn University and lives in the Nashville with his family.
Do visit his blog at greg-turnquist.blogspot.com
Packt: Your book is published now. How does it feel to be a published author?
Greg: I have an amazing feeling of accomplishment, especially seeing it listed on Amazon. Reading reviews posted online by others is really exciting. My dad is a published author, having written textbooks as a collegiate professor, and I felt an even stronger connection when I was able to give him a copy of my book.
Packt: What benefits did writing a book bring to your specialist area?
Greg: There is now a good collection of recipes for writing tests on different levels using many different tools. It doesn't cover all the tools that are out there, but gives a really good, cross sectional sample of testing that I hope will help people better test their systems.
Packt: Our authors usually have full-time jobs whilst writing for us. Was this the case for you and how did you approach managing your time?
Greg: I'm a software developer for SpringSource, a division of VMware, and I also have a family with two small children, so time management was tricky. I spent most of my time writing during the evening, and couldn't have done it without support from my wife. To keep a handle on things, I used a spreadsheet to track when I finished each recipe so I could project when things would be done. This motivated me to knock out an extra recipe here and there to stay ahead of the deadlines.
Packt: Whilst writing your book, did you find that it overshadowed personal life in any way? How did you deal with this?
Greg: My daughter turned one just when I started working on the book, so she pulled me away from writing from time to time. Playing with her is fun, so I considered this a break! My wife provided incredible support when I needed to work late on many nights.
Packt: Do you have any advice for other authors who may be interested in writing for Packt, but are still unsure?
Greg: I once expressed my opinion in a blog post that "there is no better time to write than now,." The first time I thought about writing a book, I was very unsure whether I REALLY wanted to do it, or could even pull it off. I talked to a good friend of mine, and he told me to go for it. That encouraged me to take the leap, and I'm glad I did. I want to offer a push to anyone that is reading this that if you are thinking about it, then GO FOR IT. Don't let doubt and uncertainty get in your way. You can make it happen.
Packt: Do you have any tips for other authors, or tricks that you learnt whilst writing, that you'd like to share?
Greg: I used a spreadsheet to track my progress while writing my recipe-based cookbook. This helped me track whether I was writing recipes fast enough to meet the deadlines. I'm a numbers guy, and this really helped me stay on course. I also created a pythontestingcookbook.posterous.com blog and blogged periodically while writing the book. This was my way of getting the word out about my book. It also offered my potential readers a front row seat to its development. What I didn't expect was drawing the attention of some of the authors of the various test tools. It was great, because I was able to ask questions and even get some quotes for the book. I even got feedback that one of my test tools had gone inactive and was able to replace it with something better.
Packt: How did you find the overall experience of writing your book for Packt?
Greg: Packt is great! They really provide awesome support in areas I needed. But don't forget: it's your book. I wanted to write the last chapter of my book with less focus on code and more focus on lessons learned in testing systems, which is a little different than what a cookbook calls for. I pitched it to my editor and he accepted. If you have an idea, then share it with your editor including your passion for your idea, and they'll probably work with you to make it happen.
Packt: During the writing process, did you come across any issues/ difficulties that affected your writing and how did you overcome these?
Greg: Code formatting was the trickiest thing I had to deal with. On my previous book, I discovered that it was really up to me to make sure code was typeset right and formatted to look good, so while writing Python Testing Cookbook, I focused extra attention on this area and was much more pleased with the outcome.
Packt: Was there anything interesting that happened during the writing of the book?
Greg: I was writing about continuous integration, and had started writing some recipes about Hudson when the whole Hudson/Jenkins fiasco occurred. I wasn't sure what to do. I blogged about this and saw a lot of traffic visit my site. By the time I got around to rewriting that chapter, over 95% of the core committers had gone over to Jenkins, so I decided to rewrite that chapter focused on Jenkins.
Packt: How did Packt’s Acquisition Editors help you - what kind of things did they help you with and how did they support you throughout the writing process?
Greg: I got an email from Packt inviting me to write this book. After having spent several months writing my previous book the year before, I wasn't as energetic to take this on. Just a few days later, when my wife and I were out getting coffee, she looked at me and said, "I think we should strike while the iron is hot." I hadn't expected her to be my biggest cheerleader for writing another book considering all the time writing took up, but with that much encouragement, I jumped at the opportunity.
Packt: What projects, if any, are you working on at the moment?
Greg: I have been providing support on SpringSource's commercial engineering team while also making contributions to Spring Roo. I have many co-workers that are published authors as well and received plenty of encouragement from them all the way up to my manager. I also lead the open source project Spring Python.
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