Sunday, 29 November 2009

Swedish Product Documentation Testing

Today is the first Sunday in advent. In Sweden that usually means the start of glögg drinking (some know it as gluwhein and some as mulled wine).

Well, we made an early start by one day - always looking to integrate early and find the faults up-stream!

Traditional associated fayre with glögg are almonds and raisins - they're supposed to be in the persons cup and get infused with the drink. Well, we'd bought a ready-made assortment of blanched almonds and raisins.

Whilst warming the glögg I read the back of a packet:
Ingredienser: Kaliforniska russin 70%, mandel 30%. 
Kan innehålla spår av nötter ocf torkade frukter.

Translation (emphasis mine):

Ingredients: Californian raisins 70%, almonds 30%.
May contain traces of nuts and dried fruit.

I don't think I have to comment on this (for fear of over-dosing in sarcasm and irony!) If someone had a peanut allergy would this information help them? Are the traces of nuts related to non-almond nuts? Who knows? Same question for the dried fruit...

Just as testing requirements before implementation is important, it is equally important to test the customer documentation that goes with the product - even if it is just a fruit 'n' nut packet.

The "testing" or questioning of the customer documentation should try and establish if it is clear, unambiguous and ultimately useful.

Nuff said!

I'm going to inform the company involved and we'll see where it leads...

I'm sure there are hundreds more real-life examples out there with every-day product packaging and documentation. Or?

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Carnival of Testers #3

The past couple of weeks have been very interesting reading in my google reader. Here's some of the highlights of my reading.

  • Marlena Compton had an interesting introspective, here, about PNSQC and managed to compare James Bach with Santa!
  • Phil Kirkham compares Mary Poppendeick's "deliberate practice" and Geoff Colvin's list to wonder if they are used in a tester's area of deliberate practice.
  • Michael Bolton looked at "merely" testing and "merely" checking, here.
  • Matt Heusser opened the floodgates when asking testers to find grammatical errors in his chapter of Beautiful Testing, here. For the second fortnight in a row here announced a challenge winner, here. Matt also wrote a very interesting post on test training needs with a lot of interesting responses, here.
  • Michael Kelly, on Quick Testing Tips, made a post about templates for a testing session. Also on QTP Anne-Marie Charrett made some observations about learning and delegating, here.
  • For the fans of mnemonics Karin Johnson provided one for regression testing, here.
  • Pradeep Soundararajan posted some comments about Rahul Verma and fuzzing in software testing.
  • Ben Simo has been driving very fast recently or was there a problem with the GPS? He also gave food for thought about testing in a later post.
  • Yvette Francino looked at the matrix idea of rating priority and severity of bug fixes.
  • In this time of bacon fever and other pandemics Markus Gärtner had a look at some other things you can catch or be exposed to in the work environment, cultural infections.
  • Lisa Crispin wrote about making time to learn in the work environment.
  • Dave Whalen wrote a post on Priority vs Severity, finishing off with mentions of unicorns & Big foot, here!
  • I was spoilt for choice with Lanette Cream's posts! Here are three mentioning a test case bloat presentation , what a test case is and being context driven.
  • Parimala Shankaraiah also wrote some interesting posts in the last couple of weeks, this one talking about what she got out of the BBST foundation course.
  • Alan Page gave food for thought, as usual, in a post about integrity of test result data and what it implies.
  • Rikard Edgren made some interesting observations about scripted vs ET and vice versa.
  • Peter got in references to epistemology, empiricism babies and vortices all in one post.
  • Adam Goucher wrote a very interesting post about public speaking skills.
  • Of course I have to finish with a self-plug to my Monty Python post, here.

Hope you find the reading out there as interesting as I do!

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Monty Python and Software Testing Myths

After reading a post on Matt Heusser's blog mentioning a discussion on "Zero Defect Software" I immediately started thinking of this as one of the "Holy Grails" of software development.

This was then a natural progression (for me) to then start thinking about the film "Monty Python and the Holy Grail", Holy hand-grenades to battle the things stopping us from reaching "ZDS", Monty Python in general and other silly analogies, etc, etc.

There! You've just seen divergent thinking in action!

Use of analogy?
The monty python films & sketches tackle sacred beliefs, assumptions & taboos - things you shouldn't question the truth of.

But, can you say that to a software tester?

Yes, but don't expect them to not question what's put in front of them - as long as the questioning is about learning, understanding the different perspectives/applications and not just being critical for the sake of it!

So, monty python, ZDS and holy grails started me thinking about "testing myths" and how I might apply elements from their work to help achieve or dispell those myths.

It's seems unlikely to say that software testers can learn from Monty Python, but I think I'm seeing some parallels (it's not exactly proof by contradiction, more dis-proof by absurdity!)

For anyone not familiar I've attached some Monty Python youtube search 
options so you can view at your leaisure..

Myths and the Monty Python Answers

  • Zero Defect Software
MP: The holy hand-grenade can be used to combat obstacles to getting there!
(youtube search:  monty python and the holy grail holy hand grenade)

  • Quality can be tested into the product
MP: This is the dead parrot sketch. "No it's not dead it's just resting" - no matter how serious the bugs/flaws it can be denied/improved afterwards.
(youtube search: monty python dead parrot sketch) 

  • Test Certifications are necessary for testers
MP: This is the King Arthur discussion with the peasants on systems of government - he is king because of the lady of the lake, no other logical reason or demonstrated ability.
(youtube search: monty python and the holy grail systems of government) 

  • Testing is Easy / Anyone can be a tester
MP: Maybe this is the Life of Brian syndrome - an innocent passer-by is mistaken for the messiah. Ignorance and misinformation play a part in incorrect conclusions.

  • It's possible to test everything
MP: Could be the same answer as for "testing is easy". As a different answer: This is the Mr Creosote approach to eating - he doesn't get full, eating and eating until he eventually explodes. (Yes, it's not possible to "test everything")

  • Testers are the Gatekeepers of Quality / Quality Police
MP: "Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!" If you try and ship early we'll get out the comfy chairs!
(youtube search: monty python spanish inquisition)

And finally...
For all those unicorn questions Monty Python's The Life of Brian has a good answer for tolerance: "Blessed are the cheesemakers!"

Remember, the ideas are silly, but then so are the myths - what a perfect match!

I extracted some of the myths from Renjini S. & TestingGeek.

Got any "new" myths? Maybe there's a need for a follow-up...

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Carnival of Testers #2

Over the last 2 weeks I've read and dipped into a lot of different testing blogs, and even left comments on a few. My google reader gets the updates on the blogs of 66 different testers (some are group blogs), various user and testing forums.

I've done my best to avoid information overload and stay sane ;-)

So, here are my highlights of some of those blogs (covering 25 Oct - 7 Nov). A whole range of topics have come up with quite a few references for Exploratory Testing, Agile, the STC magazine and the Testing.StackExchange site:-
  • Farid raised a good point about the need for continuity in Exploratory Testing: Self-Discipline in Exploratory Testing
  • James Bach & co produced a new version of their ET Dynamics List.
  • Just over a week ago the book Beautiful Testing came out and Linda Wilkinson gave us a fairytale, here.
  • Fred Beringer gave a good overview, here, of the GTAC 2009 conference.
  • Eric Jacobson didn't get any great inspiration from Blink, here.
  • Catherine Powell highlighted the need to think about the other fence after develoment, moving towards customer deployment, roll-out and support, here.
  • The results of Matt Heusser's test challenge were announced, here.
  • Phil Kirkham, amongst others, announced the new STC magazine, with a call for volunteers and contributors, here.
  • Michael Bolton made some comments on an older StickyMinds article (talking about ET & scripted testing) that he wasn't so keen about, here.
  • Peter wondered if he'd found a link between bugs and full moons, here. Howl!!!!!
  • Rob Lambert shared some of his recent reading (both test & non-test related), here.
  • Alan Page announced that his blog was now an ex-blog, here, also giving directions to his new blog.
  • Justin Hunter talked about Cem Kaner's presentation on ET vs scripted testing, here. Justin also talked about the first month of TestingStackExchange, here.
  • Ben Kelly and Markus Gärtner also wrote about exploratory testing, here and here.
If you haven't already read any of these then happy reading.
You can drop me a line about noticable posts - in case they slip under my radar :-) or submit a link.

Carnival #3 in a couple of weeks (aimed at blogs)...

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Carnival of Testers #1

I got this idea from my company's internal blog site - where there's a weekly round-up of interesting internal posts. This is encouraged to be a rotating review - someone different does the round-up each week - a combination of a digest which is filtered by the reviewer's personal preferences...
I expect this to be nick'd - re-used & industrialized by some of the bigger testing forums soon :-)
I'm going to start with forums...

Over on the Yahoo SW testing group there was a question this week: What does the back of a hall of fame tester baseball card look like?
This started out as a silly/playfull question but developed into a more serious and interesting topic considering how (and if) testers can be compared across the industry, how to do it and inherent problems in just comparing testers within one company.

The beginning of October saw the launch of the site for questions related to testing. I dip in there daily as the site is quite active and worth a look - whether you have a question or an opinion/answer.
Topics discussed this week have ranged from "ET dynamics", tester/dev ratios, cost of bug fixes, Agile/Agile-testers to good books for absolute beginners. Definitely worth a look.

Just over a week ago the STC announced the idea of an e-magazine, asking for contributions for article submission and help with the admin, here. They now have enough volunteers for the admin/help but submission of articles is still open - and it's open to everyone of whatever level of experience!
Questions discussed this week ranged from Test managers who have never tested to Testers as Developers. I recommend everyone to take a look and contribute.

It's been a bit quieter on Test Republic this week - I'm hoping for some reports/posts from the Next Generation SW Testing II conference soon!

For the Swedish testers out there a new forum has just celebrated its first month, (only in Swedish).

Discussions, blogs and questions seem to follow patterns where software testing is concerned - sometimes it's the sheep/lemin mentality and sometimes the goldfish mentality -but never really boring!

Next time I'll dip into some of the blog posts I've found interesting - hopefully rotating between blogs and forums.

Have you noticed anything interesting on one of the forums recently?