Wednesday, 10 December 2008

SIGIST December 9

Haven't been to a SIGIST conference for a while so it was good to be there for the December one.

Opening keynote was from Bj Rollings on Exploratory Testing Exposed where he tried to counter some of the claims of ET experts about it's effectiveness. He produced some figures from 7 years of study ( I'd like to see more details abpout this ) that showed there was no real evidence to prove the case and that ET was more likely to find behavioral issues and scripted tests more likely to find technical defects though this seemed to be based on an assumption that ET was almost always done through the UI.
The summary ?
"The overall effectiveness of both exploratory testing and designing effective scripted tests depends heavily on the individual tester's professional knowledge of the system and testing!" - in other words a great tester can write great test scripts and do great exploratory testing, a poor tester will be bad at both ?

Sadly I had to miss the Testoff being held by Stewart Noakes and his PEST team - saw Stewart afterwards and he said he'd had a good chat with Bj....

Instead I had a talk about context driven test documentation which gave some ideas on what level to write your test scripts to. The answer is ( of course ) that 'it depends' but the talk gave some useful ideas on what factors to take into account when working out what it depends on

Dot Graham then gave a talk on the Three C's that a tester needs - Criticism, Communication and Confidence. Nothing really new in it for me ( the Satir model was touched upon but after reading Mr Weinberg I know all about that ) but I suppose the fact that it was nothing new showed how much I've learnt over the last couple of years

The afternoon workshop was about Soft Skills for Testers but it didnt get off to the best start when the presenter asked us NOT to think about a pink elephant on the ceiling as an example of how it was impossible to not process a negative.

Followed by a story about a dog on a porch whining because he was on a nail that wasnt so painful he felt the need to move and I was beginning to feel the need to move. But I learnt about time management ( make a priority list and act on the top priority ones first ) and how to handle email overload ( delete the unimportant ones ).
( whoops, dont think I listened closely enough to Dot where being sarcastic is one way NOT to give criticism )

The session did get interesting as it turned into a discussion about whether learning to act and using techniques to get your way was ethical
Would be interesting if a program manager and a test manager went to the same session and then tried the techniques on each other to either ship or delay a release...

A quick presentation on DbFit made it look like it was something to investigate sometime

Final keynote was Bj Rollison again with How We Test at Microsoft ( he and James Whittaker really seem to be out and about at the moment ( James is presenting at the next SIGIST in March ) and there is the MS Testing Book out ( still waiting for Amazon to ship my copy ) )
An interesting talk that might provide some future blog material

Met some faces from the Software Testing Club and also some new people - the networking aspect is a great reason to go to the event

Some interesting ideas to think about - watch this space !

1 comment:

tponnet said...

Hi Phil,
it was good to see you at SIGIST.
I found that the "Exploratory Testing Exposed" presentation was quite one-sided.
As you said, if you have good requirements, enough time and professional testers you get the same results with ET and scripted testing. What does that tell us? Nothing I think.
The real world looks different. The tester joins the project too late, the requirements are far and few between and testing needs to start in two days (if not today). In this case BJ admits that ET is a good way to get you to know the system fast and be able to give feedback in a very short time.
Both ET and scripted testing have their drawbacks. To say that one is better than the other is wrong in my book.
To say one is as good as the other is wrong as well, it depends on the context.
Thomas