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Dogfooding

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Dogfooding a Quick Guide to Internal Testing

Eating your own dog food, also called dogfooding,
occurs when an organization uses its own product.

  • 1970 Alpo’s Dog Food Advertising Alpo, with the help of Lorne Greene, convinced consumers to buy their products because they themselves used them.
  • 1980 Memo from the Apple CEO „We believe the typewriter is obsolete. Let’s prove it inside before we try and convince our customers.“ – Michael Scott
  • 1988 E-Mail to Microsoft Employees „Eating our own Dogfood“ titled Paul Maritz in an email to challenge his test manager to increase internal usage of the company’s products.
  • 1991 Windows NT from Microsoft Dave Cutler lead his team to develop the largest software program Microsoft had seen to date with dogfooding to shake out the bugs.
  • 1999 Project „Alpo“ Goes Live Hewlett-Packard and Mozilla create „Project Alpo“ to push employees to use there own products.
  • 2000-Present It’s Pretty Much Adopted Now most companies (like e.g. google) run some kind of internal testing or „dogfooding“ program.

Test and Development Environment

The Origins of the Term “Dogfooding”: Why “dogfooding?” The term comes from a well-known 1976 television spot for Alpo dog food, starring actor Lorne Greene. By feeding Alpo to his own dog in the commercial, it’s become the symbol (and the namesake) for trialing a product internally before it goes to market. Nearly 40 years later, “eating your own dog food” is a widely accepted practice inside most organizations. www.centercode.com

In 1988 Paul Maritz, a manager at Microsoft, wrote an email to Brian Valentine, a test manager, with the subject line: “Eating our own Dogfood.” Microsoft was working on a new operating system for networking systems. Maritz thought using their own product for Microsoft’s internal network needs would help push them to make a better product. There were several other companies that held this “practice what you preach” mentality which contributed to their success including Apple’s push to switch all employees from typewriters to computers. www.medium.com

Google makes heavy use of its own products. We have a large ecosystem of development/office tools and use them for nearly everything we do. Because we use them on a daily basis, we can dogfood releases company-wide before launching to the public. www.googleblog.com

This can be a way for an organization to test its products in real-world usage. Hence dogfooding can act as quality control, and eventually a kind of testimonial advertising. Once in the market, dogfooding demonstrates confidence in the developers’ own products. www.wikipedia.org

Advantages

  1. Improves product quality through bug discovery
  2. Allows you to scale quality testing environments with real people
  3. Leverages internal resources to cut down on development and support costs
  4. Helps to save time by addressing issues that can delay product release
  5. Promotes product awareness and knowledge to every corner of the organization
  6. Establishes a collaborative environment that breaks down departmental silos
  7. Demonstrates product usefulness and usability to the market

Disadvantages

  1. Developers usually aren’t the intended audience
  2. The application requires specialized knowledge
  3. You don’t have the features YOU like
  4. Using alpha and beta products can be frustrating
Dogfooding
SNGPhotography / Pixabay

About the author

I. Gaffling

I would like to introduce myself, my name is Igor Gaffling, I was born in 1968 and have more than 30 years of experience in the IT- and new-media industry. In this blog I write about how search engines work, facts, ideas, code experiments and the possibility to develop a simple search engine from scratch that can handle a few million entries at an acceptable speed.

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