Monday, 31 May 2010

Carnival of Testers #10

Another month, another wave of testing blog posts. What can I say? Variety is spice of the testing blog life! And it's edition number 10!

  • For people familiar (or not) with smurfs then have a look at the challenge by Markus Gärtner. The write-up is worth a look too.
  • Lannette Creamer went all trekky with a testing challenge, here. It generated a fair bit of interest - but I think I was the only one to use the microwave oven heuristic.... An insightful summary and reflection popped up too!
  • Curiosity: Lynn McKee wrote a good summary of Gil Broza's interview with Michael Bolton. There's also a link to the audio.
  • Comprehensive: As a first blog post Felipe Knorr Kuhn started with driving Selenium from Java, here.
  • Animal Welfare: Frog eating was the eye-catching hook from Anuj Magazine about getting tasks done - even the unpleasant ones.
  • Trans-what? A transcript and analysis of a transpection between Michael Bolton and James Bach on expected results and inputs makes worthwhile reading.
  • Bug Rebellion: Andy Glover gave a cartoon view on bugs being reproducible - or was it a case of the audience not agreeing with the message at a conference? Mmm, you decide...
  • Model Count: How many models do you use in testing? Don't know? Interested in finding out more? Then take a look at Rikard Edgren's take, here.
  • Automation for bug finding or for testing or something completely different? Dorothy Graham presents her view for testing, here.
  • Automated Exploratory Testing? Although not strictly a blog post Rob Lambert started an interesting discussion (different viewpoints) on the STC, here.
On Writing
  • Marlena Compton wrote about the positive contribution made to testing by writing.   
  • The writing about testing peer conference got a rounded summary from Chris McMahon.
  • A forthcoming "Ask The Tester" article by Matt Heusser was given the heads-up, here. It's your chance to send in questions so take a look!
The C-word
Keyboards have been getting warm recently. There's been a range of views and discussion circulating around certification. 

Until next time, happy reading!

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Tester Certification - my take...

Recently, there's been a bit of a commotion, kerfuffle, a minor hullaballoo - Well, when I say recently, it's been going on a little while - ebb and flow, coming and going, just like a pleasant memory, bad smell, nightmare, whatever - take your pick!

I started this post over a year ago - but after a post from James Bach, here, I was prompted to finish this post. So, here's my take.

Yes, that was my feeling towards certification before I encountered the ISTQB.... I'd heard of it, even been asked about it in interviews - I didn't have it and saw no reason for one. It hadn't affected my employability (as far as I know.)

It was about 2 years ago when my shop embarked on a programme of certification - I don't know the reasoning behind it - it was policy and I had more important things to think about. So folk started getting booked on an ISTQB foundation level course with an exam at the end.

The syllabus seemed interesting at first glance - another take on items and approaches I'd already worked with - I'm always open to new avenues of learning. Maybe a standardized terminology so that all could understand terms - whether new tester or old in the tooth. That's gotta be good, right? That was a hope/wish for me after a skim of the syllabus.

The actual course was interesting enough - but it was clear that it was geared to passing a multiple choice exam.

There were aspects of the course that didn't quite sit right for me - definitions and terminology - I'd been a tester for a good while at this point and now I was being told to unthink some ideas - even though I could argue the case for using my definition - that wasn't the point.

The point was to pass a multiple choice exam - then you could think how you wanted.

Hmm, ok, paradise lost! Is the idea of standard terminology is just boiling down to an exam?

The idea of standard terminology maybe wasn't such a utopia - with a relatively easy exam these terms as well as the certificate would just be bandied around - just another keyword/buzzword to put on a CV.

To me that doesn't do a tester any good to only use standard terminology. If they think that testing is about using the right terminology instead of thinking what they're talking about - and even expressing it in alternate ways - then they're missing the point. That's sad!

The tester has to be able to use the local terminology and definitions if needed.

I've worked against a certain amount of "test management"-speak in the past. I think it's great that testers can get up and articulate their ideas to both their peers and managers. For this I think a certain amount of terminology can get in the way. And that's a shame!

When I talk to non-testers (managers) I go to some lengths to emphasize the difference between testing and good testing - and for me good testing starts with yourself - expressing your ideas and making yourself heard and understood - sometimes putting ideas in simple language. And that's important!

Yes, that was my feeling after the coure.

There's still a fair bit of ambivalence for me. I haven't benefitted from the certification.

I used to think the course could be a useful intro for a new tester. Now, I think there are better ways - routes for self-learning, self-practice and mentoring. These are much more effective - and ultimately gratifying.

I don't want to reside in a swell of buzzwords - I think it's time to talk about what you value as a tester.

Got any good or bad experiences of certification?

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Testing Style: "Eyes Wide Shut" vs "Eyes Wide Open"

 #softwaretesting #qa #testing ;

What's your approach to testing?

What first impressions do you get from "eyes wide shut" and "eyes wide open" as applied to testing?

Let me do a quick mind-dump, word association thing - the order below is exactly how it turned out - I then went back to add a bit of detail between the bullet-points. You'll have to excuse the odd Monty Python moment...

Eyes Wide Shut

  • Parrot
I suspect I was primed by the recent video interview with James Bach about bucanneer testing and parrots.
  • Rote
Following word-for-word - no deviation.
  • Led
Following and willing to be led. Whilst this may be good and necessary in some test activities, I think this is in the minority of cases.
  • Sheep
Probably primed by Rob Lambert's recent agricultural reference (actually a serious post!)
  • Blind
Not looking around.
  • Sensory deprived
Not using all information inputs.
  • No questions
Just follow the guide/script/instructions even if it doesn't make sense.
  • Lemming
Can lead to the black swan event of all "eyes wide shut" testers.
  • Same-old same-old
No change, never change, comfort zone, safe. Perfect candidate for automation.

Eyes Wide Open

  • Searching
Using the script/test idea as a guide - an incomplete map.
  • Alert
  • Observant
  • All senses in use
These three are very similar - when the tester is switched on and ready to react, think ahead and even pre-empt.
    • In the zone
    When all senses are engaged and the tester is questioning the product it's similar to the sporting equivalent of being "in the zone".
    • Feedback
    The tester is questioning to give good feedback. Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition. Questioning is our main tool, questioning and feedback, ohh...
    • Exploratory
    Map-making in real time!
    • Investigative
    The best of journalistic and scientific investigation - following-up on previous experience, hints and clues with the information in front of you.
    • Ideas
    The activity generates new ideas - either for further testing, how to solve test problems, feedback on the product or how to improve the product.

    Note, I don't consider this as scripted vs non-scripted. I consider it more "good testing" vs "not-good testing" (I place no other emphasis on it than that...)
    There are some cases where scripted testing is necessary (even a legal requirement) and others where it's needed as a guide.

    My take on buccaneer testing and parrots - they are different species and unless the parrot is supposed to do everything-by-rote then it's the "eyes wide shut" case. I've got another take that I'll expand on in another post.
    Of course, if the parrot is a Norwegian Blue then it definitely ain't dead and it's actually very good testing! :-)

    Do your own word association and see what you come up with!

    Saturday, 1 May 2010

    Carnival of Testers #9

    April was an active month blog-wise on a number of fronts. There was some conference activity, some planned and some spontaneous. Spontaneity was also seen on the testing front with the much-tweeted #parkcalc.

    A real variety from new announcements, some detailed analysis and other thought- and discussion-provoking posts - exactly how it should be!



    • Anne-Marie Charrett wrote a piece on combining mindmaps and mnemonics. She even makes her mindmap available if you want to download it. Anne-Marie also compiled a list of the testing tips from the first Tag Tuesday #dttip.
    • Reinder Otter posted a slideshow on Self-Organisation. If you're into self-organizing teams then take a look.

    ACCU2010 was hit by the flight restrictions over Europe from the Islandic volcano - I won't even try and spell it (the one beginning with E and followed by lots of vowels.) Some people made, some didn't and some had to make alternative arrangements.

    • Peter Haworth-Langford wrote about his session with James Bach.
    • The Friday got a good summary from Thomas Ponnet's viewpoint, here.
    • Lisa Crispin's flight didn't make it over but she wrote about the other opportunities that she took. There's always a silver lining to every volcanic cloud!
    • Possibly the post that generated the most interest from the ACCU arena was Robert Martin's take on software testing and professionalism. This not only generated lots of comments, tweets but quite a few blog posts.

    ST&P announced their dates and call for participation at STP Con 2010.

    • Matt Heusser presented the case for attending as an opportunity, here. Will you answer the call? I'm tempted!

    The UK Test Managers' Forum also got represented in the blogosphere.

    • Stephen Hill's rounded summary of the day was posted, here.

    The end of April saw Star East 2010.

    • Yvette Francino produced a write-up on the conference with a video interview with James Bach, here. Have you ever been fired by all the right people?

    A new weekend testing started in April - we saw the first WTANZ session. Very cool!

    Volcanic Ash from Iceland prompted a few blog posts in April.

    • Zeger Van Hese drew parallels between volcanic activity and systems thinking.
    • Santosh Shukla reflected on the opportunities of being stuck in London due to the ash cloud. Another silver lining fellow!
    • The open space Open Volcano 10 was initiated due to folks being stranded. Rob Lambert put down his reflections on the day.

    Clouds of the volcanic kind were not the only topics for consideration. Cloud computing got a few mentions in April - more on that in a follow-up!

    The ParkCalc subject generated a lot of activity - blog posts, tweets and a follow-up debrief. Great ad hoc testing opportunism!

    • Matt Heusser got the ball rolling by drawing attention to it as a testing challenge, here. A surefire way to grab attention!
    • Selena Delesie posted the first response, with lots of good observations.
    • Other takes came in from Keis, here, and the European Weektesters, here.
    • Jon Bach ran the de-brief and Matt did the write-up.

    There were many more interesting posts that I didn't write about now. They haven't been forgotten and will caught in another post looking at longer term trends...

    Until next time happy reading!