Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Automatic Blogs

First in a series of blogs that are written using web automation tools

Well that's the New Year challenge I've set myself...

This first one was written using Watir
I've used it before and already had it installed so a no-brainer to choose it.
Time taken to get it up and running - 30 minutes
( once I remembered the append method for text boxes)

No tests around it though, shame on me.

Maybe that should be Pt II...

Monday, 27 December 2010

Ninjas, gherkins, cukes - and dont forget Chuck

A few days off work, snowbound Britain meant going anywhere was impossible and also not wanting to be part of the after-Xmas Sales frenzy meant a few days to work on some of the things I've never got around to so far.

One of those things was to learn some more about ATDD/BDD and learn something about these funnily named new tools such as Cucumber.
Posts such as A day in the life of an acceptance tester are good but not the same as trying it out yourself.

A cool way to start seemed to be with the crazily named Secret Ninja Cucumber Scrolls - " a step-by-step guide for Cucumber, a tool that is quickly becoming the weapon of choice for many agile teams "

The guide offered options for Ruby, .Net and Java and as I was also wanting to get back into Ruby and was halfway through Design Patterns in Ruby book I chose the Ruby option.

I already had Ruby installed on my machine so a couple of gem installs and I was all set ( OK, it was more than a couple as I got the wrong versions a couple of times )

An hour later and I'd run the first set of examples and had some Ninjas that were aware that they should run as fast as possible from Chuck Norris. The guide does not take itself seriously and tries to inject some humour and the examples it uses are for training up Ninjas. Certainly makes a change from the dreaded bank account example with deposits and withdrawals. Yawn.

Some mixed emotions when doing this though.

On the one hand a few years ago I'd become stale as a programmer ( hence the move to testing ) so dealing with incompatible versions and syntax errors and missing header files was a brief nasty flashback to the bad old days.

On the other hand the reason I originally became a programmer was because I was interested in all this stuff and it was a reminder of why I liked it - DOS boxes, IDE's, typing commands and making all sorts of stuff happen with a few keystrokes.

So I've got the programming bug again and now I'm off to find some more serious uses for this stuff other than running from Chuck Norris...
( though that is a good thing to do )

I recommend the guide as a good intro to the topic and a quick way to get up and running.

Scrooge The Tester

December 23rd and I found another defect in the system - various combinations of ( and \ in an input box would give an unmatched regular expression and a server error. I posted a tweet about this to which Markus Gärtner replied that I was a bit mean doing this one day before Xmas.

All of which led me to think of Scrooge and his visitations from the ghosts of Christmases past, present and future. What if I was visited by the Ghosts of Releases past, present and future ?

Past Releases:

Make the release, send it out to the customers and then schedule in 'bug blitzes' to deal with the problems they found. No unit testing - nor any other proper testing phases either as there was no tester, only the programmers trying to test their own work. That was my first introduction in how to write and release software.

Plenty of other ghosts of releases past - the release that was rock-solid ( that was when I first got the testing bug and started to test the system, I even had 5 Macs running overnight tests) but had no input from customers and when they tried it they didn't like it so we ended up with 1000 copies of unsold nicely boxed software with a great logo sitting on the shelves.

The release that didn't accept credit card payments. A bit of a flaw in a system used by telesales people. This was the release that was the straw that broke the camels back for management and they finally decided to do something about the quality of the programs and revamped the development lifecycle and wanted to do some serious testing. For which they needed someone who knew about testing and the pile of books on my desk was a big clue. That was when my move to testing really started.

Current Releases:

The Ghost of Current Releases doesn't seem that different from the last set of ghosts. Programmers that don't seem to know how to test their own work followed by testers who don't seem to know how to test it either. Means easy pickings for me and finding defects is like taking candy from a baby ( or should that be taking humbugs from a child if I'm sticking with the Scrooge theme ? ).

Requirements are vague and inconsistent with masses of documentation hiding the fact that one part of the system allows lower case input to be mandatory whilst another part of the system insists that all lower case is converted to upper case.

Project managers get a blank expression if the phrase 'exploratory testing' is used and the concept of a defect being found without a script is like Scrooge having an expense account, the concept is totally alien to them.

Just me being unlucky ? Seems The Daily WTF can go on and on and on with plenty of stories like this ( and worse )

Releases Yet To Come:

Specification by Example, Beautiful Testing II ( the long awaited follow up ) and How to Reduce the Cost of Software Testing have been best-sellers and stakeholders and suppliers are working closely together.

Programmers understand how to test and are delivering software that works and does what the customer wants.
Experienced testers are brought on board to use their skill and experience to shake the last few defects out of the system.

Project managers finally understand Brooks's law and don't bring in new resources and ask them to work late nights and weekends to try and catch up - because no catching up is needed as working s/w is being delivered right from the start.

" I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach. "

- A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Not Springer. Not Maguire. Not Lee Lewis. THE Jerry

Mr Testhead recently blogged ( amongst other things, how does he find the time ? ) about finally getting some Jerry Weinberg books. Looking forward to reading about what Mr Larsen thinks of those and I cant believe he hasn't read any yet.

Over on the Test Eye blog there was a recent review of Exploring Requirements: Quality Before Design

This year I've been re-re-reading my now very dog-eared copy of
Becoming a Technical Leader - once I'd manage to prise it back from the hands of a colleague.

Does The Law Of Raspberry Jam still apply to the man that came up with it ?

Friday, 17 December 2010

The Apprentice - You're Fired (Up)

Part 2 of the thoughts I got from reading A Tester is for Life

Reading all the entries for how to improve the testing craft made me think about putting together a list of what I try and do to improve/maintain my skills

  • As mentioned in my last post, moderating and being involved with the Software Testing Club teaches me a lot

  • Blogs – I haven’t posted to this as much as I would have liked to and have only been skimming other testers blogs but they are a good source of learning

  • Miagi-Do school of s/w testing – honorary member of this but still not got around to earning a belt. A Must Do for 2011 especially as it is now getting more well known

  • Books – currently reading Design Patterns in Ruby and have Beautiful Teams after that. On my Amazon wish list is Agile Samurai and Management 3.0.
    Though given my current progress through the Ruby book of a couple of pages a day ( not because it’s a bad book but because of time ) then I might be finished reading this little collection by 2020...

  • Ruby – as I’m reading the book I want to try putting some into practice

  • One way to put Ruby into practice was to learn more about The Secret Ninja Cucumber Scrolls and other ATDD tools

  • I try to attend evening sessions at SkillsMatter and the monthly London Tester Gatherings

  • Taken part in several Weekend Testing Sessions

  • Member of the Writing about Testing mailgroup. Mostly lurking though being part of it helped me get a front cover on Test magazine

Having put this list together, it reminded me a recent blog post from John Stevenson Sorting the Chaff from the wheat where he said

"My other concern is that we are becoming a society of 24x7 learners, we never switch off"

It can be a tough balancing act but I suppose the question to ask yourself is:

"Am I enjoying this ?"

Having read two recent excellent blog posts about learning - Software Testing Apprentices by Markus Gartner and the blog post of the year from Michael Larsen, aka the TESTHEAD, where he details his learning through the year, I am enthused again and all set for 2011

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

A moderate success

One of the perks of being a moderator for the Software Testing Club is getting early looks at some of the outputs from there.

The latest one is the ebook that has just been released - A tester is for life, not just for Christmas
It's a great read and triggered off a lot of thoughts of which this is part one.

One of the common themes in the responses to 'how to improve the testing craft' was to be involved with the testing community with the STC being one of the main sites for this
( well I suppose the responses were somewhat biased as they were responding to an STC post ( duh ! ) but a number of blogs have given the STC a tip of the hat and acknowledged it's influence and reputation )

Very satisfying to read and so I did some digging in the archives.

July 2008 and we were celebrating our 1000th member - current membership is approaching 7500.

End of July 2008 and I was volunteering to help moderate - one of the best decisions I've made as I have learnt so much from doing this.

57 discussions started, 325 replies to discussions, XX posts about where to get ISEB past papers deleted, numerous Jenny/Melissa/Candy from New York with hotmail888 addresses declined memberships and only a couple of bannings.
Oh, and one threat of lawyers because we didnt really think that copyright testing was one of the biggest issues facing the test industry...

Rob Lambert came on board and the site has gone from strength to strength, kudos to him and Rosie Sherry for the work they've done - and still do.

I had another dig in the archives and from February 2010 here is Rob talking about how the STC re-ignited his passion.
He's certainly been on fire since then.

More thoughts in the next post but as this is tradtionally the time of year for looking back I thought it appropriate to do so

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

testers for life

I've filled in the form for the upcoming eBook from the Software Testing Club.

There's some interesting questions to answer, the book is sure to be an interesting read to find out what the other responses were - and it's all for a good cause, Oxfam.

So off you go and take part

Friday, 5 November 2010

follow the leader

I seem to be on a roll at the moment for finding problems.

Found someone new to follow on Twitter and then Twitter suggested that I might also want to follow myself.
Dont know why I'd want to do that as I tweet a lot of rubbish

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Bordering on the ridiculous

I had to use one of the UK government websites and maybe I was foolish to expect something good that is representing my country.
And that my tax money was spent on.

It might be a security measure not to include the login name in the mail but if so, don't include it, please don't put NULL NULL

The two links dont work - look at the tooltip and you can see the link is missing an 'h' in the starting http

The second link also doesn't read correctly

I want understand more about the application process before making my booking

I want to understand how this email ever got past any sort of testing

Sunday, 31 October 2010

All that is left is to say I'm right

The Agile Evangelists seems to be a good place to keep up with agile events, I just hope that they are so busy evangelising that they dont care about left and right...

I'm sure it will be fixed in the next iteration

Friday, 29 October 2010

Free education

Self education for testers seems to be a hot topic at the moment - see the recent presentation by Markus Gartner at Agile Testing Days and a recent post on the STC.

For those of us working or living in London, Skillsmatter has a great selection of free evening sessions to help anyone get up to speed on the latest topics.

Just signed up for Painless Product demos with Jason Huggins, Lean and Kanban in the enterprise and, to make this post circular, About Learning with Janet Gregory

Sadly having to miss Kanban vs The Mafia as it clashes with Tottenham v Milan...

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

above and below

I took The Kanban Quiz ( yay me, got 100% ) and found one of the questions had a minor defect.

To make the questions a bit harder the order of the answers is changed every time - which doesn't quite work when one of the answers is 'all of the above' which should always be the final answer in the list and not the top one...

Monday, 11 October 2010

u and i can cause problems

No blog posts for weeks and then the best I can come up with is an infantile mistake like the one above ?

Easy mistake to make, the characters are next to each other on the keyboard and we all know that shut happens

Shows that a spellchecker will not catch all your mistakes and as the website is aimed at newbies then you really do want to be particularly careful about checking the advice you are giving them.

Posts with more substance to follow...

Monday, 30 August 2010


So, been a long time since my last blog post. Not been hiding from the paparazzi after my magazine cover appearance, been stupidly busy at work.

Which all happened just after I got a book on Kanban after a recommendation on Gojko's blog. It was a good book, cant go wrong with a book that recommends the use of professional testers.
There was also an emphasis on creating slack and since reading that I've had a good lesson in how useful slack can be. Or to be more accurate, how bad not having slack time can be

The first issue of The Testing Planet was published - great work from Rosie and Rob Lambert to put it together but a tinge of regret that I was unable to help out.

This weekend I managed to catch up on some blog reading and one of the first I read was Selena Delesie on supporting the testing community which gave me more guilt feelings. I still manage to keep an eye on and moderate the STC site but been a while since I started or joined in the discussions

And more guilt when I read the latest blog from Alan Page - Will we survive the future of software? as he tries to figure out the future of testing. Hard to figure out a better way when you're knee deep in the same old brown stuff

Light at the end of the tunnel though and the thriving test community out there is a big help. Here's hoping I can get back to more involvement in it, I've missed it a lot.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Thats me covered

or to be more precise, that's me on the cover of TEST magazine

Thanks to Jason Gorman's original blog post for the inspiration and the people on the writing-about-testing group for valuable feedback

Monday, 17 May 2010

Same old same old same old

Sadly my daily commute does not look like the above pic :(

Park the car near the train station and see the guy who has his morning jog in his driveway.

Get out of the car, walk to the station and get overtaken by the guy who is always running to catch his train.

Into London and walk past the Big Issue seller, then past the guy doing juggling, then another Big Issue seller and then one more Big Issue seller with her dog fetching a tennis ball.

Through the park in the square and the man with his leafblower just starting to blow them away

Into work and test the app in the same way, enter the same data in the same order and press the same buttons...

Or take a different walk and see if I can find a new elephant

Look around as I walk and notice that the Green Man and French Horn pub I've walked past the last 6 months actually has a Green Man sign

A reminder to myself to take different routes in my testing and to keep looking around

Sunday, 16 May 2010

The Growing Community

The recent London Tester Gathering once again resulted in the basement room of the LVPO Bar being packed out. Only 3 months ago there were a few of us watching the barman holding a candle up the TV as people tried to connect cables, now we have 3 speakers and not enough room.

Microsoft have been along to gather feedback from the testing community and this time it was the turn of Red Gate to tell us how testers worked at their place, how good a place it was to work and to offer an iPad to anyone who was interviewed for a test engineer role. A video of people in the company saying how great it was to work there was a bit too corny and overlong - even if it is true.

Stuart Taylor of Trader Media gave a great talk on how his workplace has transitioned from Waterfail to Agile.

As the next speaker, Michael Bolton, said - it was a great experience report. Michael's talk introduced the audience to the CBC radio series How to Think About Science and the book Leviathan and the Air-Pump - so yeh, not your standard testing talk ( which I was not expecting from Mr Bolton and he did not disappoint )

Afterwards it was networking time and I got to meet Anna Baik and Jodie Parker at last and left them excitedly discussing Weekend Testing.

Looking round the room I counted 12 people I'd only known online but had finally got around to putting faces to and another 5 or so people that seem to be regulars at these events that I'm getting to recognise.

And with the Software Testing Club growing by around 10 people per day the online and offline testing community is growing and no need for testers to feel isolated.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Why oh Why oh Why oh Why oh Why ?

Why oh Why oh Why oh Why oh Why do I have a picture of Wallace and Grommit at the start of this post ?
Well, if you had been at the Root Cause Analysis event at Skills Matter last night you would understand why.

Douglas Squirrel, CTO at youDevise gave a very entertaining talk on Root Cause Analysis which in his view is one of the most important but often neglected part of agile.

He and his company are still learning to do it - following the Shu Ha Ri approach he classified themselves as getting into the Ha phase.
( a small gratifying moment for me as he asked how many knew about this and as I had blogged about it a while ago I was able to put my hand up. )

He then went on to describe the 9 important points of doing a RCA and how to do the 5 Why's

  • Target a specific event

  • Everyone affected attends

  • No Blame

  • Poll to identify problems

  • Write a lot

  • Move down, then across

  • Doesn't hurt ? You're not doing it right

  • Proportionate tasks

  • All tasks done in a week

Having described them, it was time to put them into action. he divided the room into 2 teams and then showed a Wallace and Grommit video. One team was assigned to be Wallace, the other Grommit and then we conducted an RCA session to find out the root cause of what went wrong.

The final outcome was that Wallace and Grommit needed to go to a Cheese and Biscuit therapy session to learn how to communicate with each other better.

Lots of questions afterwards - the sign of a good session - then off to the pub

Monday, 3 May 2010

What have testers ever done for us ?

Rob Lamberts recent blog Don't Be A Follower made me think of Life of Brian ( James Bach isn't the Messiah, he's a very naughty boy )

Which in turn reminded me of the What have the Romans done for us scene

Xerxes: The aqueduct.

Reg: Oh yeah, yeah they gave us that. Yeah. That's true.

Masked Activist: And the sanitation!

Stan: Oh yes... sanitation, Reg, you remember what the city used to be like.

Reg: All right, I'll grant you that the aqueduct and the sanitation are two things that the Romans have done...

Matthias: And the roads...

Reg: (sharply) Well yes obviously the roads... the roads go without saying. But apart from the aqueduct, the sanitation and the roads...

Stan: And it's safe to walk in the streets at night now.

Francis: Yes, they certainly know how to keep order... (general nodding)... let's face it, they're the only ones who could in a place like this.

Reg: All right... all right... but apart from better sanitation and medicine and education and irrigation and public health and roads and a freshwater system and baths and public order... what have the Romans done for us?

Now re-work this with testers as the Romans...

Reg: What has testing done for us ?

Xerxes: Well, they found those showstopper bugs before we went live...

Reg: Yeh, yeh, I suppose that would have given our customers some trouble

Masked Activist: They went through the specs before we started development and found all those inconsistencies and ambiguities

Stan: And they helped the devs write those acceptance tests before they started coding so they knew when they were done

Reg: All right all right - but apart from finding the showstoppers and making the requirements testable and making sure the devs knew what they were coding...

Stan: The Continuous Integration - remember how scared we were to change the code and how long it took to manually retest it all ?

What else has testing done for us ?

Sunday, 25 April 2010

System Crashes. Also needs ellipsis

A recent post on the STC from Tony Simms asking for Real Examples of Bad Bug reports got me thinking.

Sadly, I could have supplied him with a page full of examples.

Going back to my days as a dev, the company I was working for had one 'tester' and he had the most aggravating bug reports.

"Selecting foo from the menu bar crashes the system. Also foo needs to end with an ellipsis"

So I'd fix the crash, forget to add the ellipsis to the menu item and the bug fix would get rejected. I had some petty revenge when I was put in charge of testing and would reject bugs that had more than one defect reported.

This was several years ago but I still come across poorly reported bugs ( including ones similar to the above where two defects are reported in one report )

One solution seems to be to use the approach that MS outlined in their demo to the London Tester Gathering of VS 2010. All the tester has to do is click a button and the defect and its environment are sent to the developer.

Or the testers can learn Bug Advocacy. Check the date on this famous paper - 2002 and still relevant today ( and still unread by a lot of testers I've worked with )

Maybe it's part of the dumbing down of testers - give them a tool to use rather than teach them how to report bugs.

Eric Jacobson recently posted about The Joy Of Cracking Repro Steps - another skill that some testers don't seem to have. Find a bug, log the bug - no effort to find the simplest way to reproduce the defect or exactly what causes it. My recent example of a Campfire Bug is a case in point - I got a great buzz out of narrowing it down to having spaces in the mobile phone number field and it meant that when the dev had to fix the defect all the information required was there.

but if you are only measured on how many tests you run and how many defects you find, what incentive is there to narrow down a bug and report it effectively ?

Sunday, 18 April 2010

London TesterGathering April

After too long a break it was good to be going to another London Tester Gathering

Lots of people there - was it the charisma of Tony Bruce, an interest in MS Visual Studio 2010 or the chance of free drinks courtesy of MS ?
Either way it was a good evening, a chance to chat to the Evil Tester, put some faces to names of people I follow on Twitter and meet some new people.

Stephen Allot kicked things off with a talk on the online testing community, sadly he did not give the Software Testing Club a big a plug as he should have done but I'll forgive him as he was doing an auction for a good cause.

MS then gave a talk and brief demo on Visual Studio 2010 and how it was useful for testers. Seemed to have some cool features and could be worth a more in-depth look. They kept stressing how it would be easy to report bugs so the dev would always believe the tester as the evidence would be right there, is this old dev-tester at war still really an issue ?

Free MS screwdrivers were given out as well as some MS silly putty and then it was networking time. I made sure the MS marketer was aware of the STC and then sadly had to go

Next session is provisionally May 12 and Michael Bolton might be a special guest - dependent on volcanic activity I suppose....

Friday, 16 April 2010

Zap Those Nulls

I usually leave finding bugs in websites and shopping receipts to QA Hates You but a fault in a website for testers and promoting quality is a target not to be resisted.

So sorry Zappers but when your main site has one of the dreaded 'null' defects on it then you're gonna get called on it.

I signed up for the London event though it seems I dont even have to leave my sofa to find a defect

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

What are Amazon smoking ?

Thanks to the 'Amazon recommends' feature I got to know about the book I've been waiting a long time for. Because I'd purchased Testing SAP Solutions Amazon thought I'd be interested in a book that would teach me the secrets of smoke testing
"Smoke testing of sanitary sewer systems is primarily used to find places where ground water and storm runoff can enter the sanitary sewer system"

Seems a tad pricy though - £31 for 80 pages of a book of "High Quality Content by WIKIPEDIA articles"

Still, newbies on the testing forums always seem to be asking about smoke testing so maybe I could recommend this book and get affiliate fees

Thanks Amazon - but no thanks

Monday, 5 April 2010


Those of you who follow football (soccer) will know that England has been in a panic recently with the injury to Wayne Rooney and will he / wont he be fit for the World Cup in June.

I dont really see the problem myself - Wayne's hands and vocal chords aren't injured so he could simply write down or tell a subsititute striker how to play and score goals.

Or is it not as simple as following a script and you need some talent and experience as well ?

Monday, 15 March 2010

So this is progress ?

Another day and another Farmville bug. For those of you not been hooked into this game it's on Facebook and has 75 million players a month ( more than the population of France). As a social gaming phenomenon it's worth looking at just to see how and why it has become so huge ( that's my excuse anyway )

Anyway, for those non-Farmville players, the game has a facility where you visit neighbours farms and 'fertilise' their crops. As you do so a progress bar appears that indicated the percentage of fertilisation done - it usually happens so fast that you dont notice it. However, as I have the tester DNA I got the progress bar to go way over the 100% limit as you can see from the extended green bar in the screenshot above.

Nothing too remarkable about this defect. However it brought back memories for me of my programming days and a function I wrote 20 years ago. It was for a book pagination program and needed a status bar to show how much each area on a page had been adjusted. The adjustment range went from 0-100% and my function popped up a little bar coloured red if more than 50% had been adjusted, green if less than 50%. It involved a nasty little hack into some Mac assembler code but I got it working. Until that is some of the other programmers on the team ( no devoted test team in those days ) tried it out and found places where the bar would zoom way past 100% and extend to the edge of the screen

Twenty years on and still progammers are struggling to get a progress bar to stop at 100%....
( and at least MY defect was caught before the program went live )

Friday, 12 March 2010

Not that safe a filter

Thanks to a Friday afternoon fun discussion on the STC, I ended up doing the Google Search you can see in the above image.

With safe filter on, The Goog filtered out the bad word and gave me lots of results for 'pig in a poke' and 'pigs in blankets' instead.

Well, apart from the News Search results halfway down the page which seemed to use the bad word but still gave me pig in a poke results....

Bug ? Or not ?

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Campfire Bug

Found a showstopper bug fairly late in the process which has got me wondering about how it could have been caught earlier

The defect description :

The app has an address book - one of the fields in the address book is for a mobile (cell for any US readers) phone number. Put a number in there with spaces in - some people like their numbers formatted that way.

From the order screen of the app, find this address and select it for use in the order. The order can have extras where you can include the mobile phone number so the customer is notified about the stages of their order. However, do not select this extra option - so the phone number is not needed and does not appear on the screen. Only the mailing address is used.

Process the order - the screen hangs.
Go to the address book and remove the space from the phone number in the address book, save the address, find the address from the order screen - order processes.
Go to the address book again, put the space in, press the 'use this address' button that is on the address book screen, process the order, all works fine.
From the order screen search for the address, find it, process. Hangs

So what testing technique ( apart from persistence and some luck ) would have caught this ?
Not having access to the code I don't know if a code review would have - the code seems to behave differently when called from 2 places and somehow the fact that there is a space causes the hang ( maybe there is some exception being thrown that is displayed to the user if the phone number is actually being used )

Would a detailed script have caught this ? It would have to be a detailed scenario - I can imagine scripts which check saving values to an address book and scripts that check that an entry can be used to populate an order - but a script that will check an order that uses an entry in the address book with spaces in it that is not actually used in the order ??

So it will go into my memory banks and be one of those tales told when testers gather to tell tales about bugs found. I'll pass the defect details onto the other testers on the team to see how they might have caught it. But in the end it will be another bit of local tester folklore - how can this be passed onto newbie testers ?

Sunday, 28 February 2010

Set Phases To Stun

A rigid waterfall style project can still present a tester with opportunities for mischief. Or a chance to educate people about other ways.

A good opportunity is when you find defects away from running scripts. Even better is when you find them when the official testing phase is over ( maybe not better for the project but better for the education opportunity )

Tester: Hey, boss, I found a couple of defects
Boss: How could you do that, we've run all the test scripts
Tester: I wasn't using following a script, I was exploring the system and found a coupla problems
Boss: < silence as he tries to get to grips and understand how it is possible to do this >

So this is Opportunity #1 to do some education about testing. You could always wave a copy of "Perfect Software" and say "as Jerry says in this book..."
Probably not the best idea, though, to ask The Boss if his illusion has been shattered

Now, having found a defect it has to be logged

Tester: So, boss, what test phase should I log this under ? System test ?
Boss: System test is over, we've run all the tests and had it signed off as complete
Tester: But it's the same code base. How about UAT phase ?
Boss: Well that doesn't start til next week
Tester: ( to himself ) Right, the daily reports would look strange with no tests run and 2 defects found

Opportunity #2 - an explanation of exploratory testing and might it be a good idea to schedule some at the end of scripted testing.

All done ? Not quite, one more opportunity whilst the boss is feeling vulnerable as he's just realised the security guard in the red shirt has just been bumped off

Tester: So, boss, if I log these 2 defects then wont our defect count be over the entrance criteria for UAT ?
Boss: ( checks the figures ) yes it will
Tester: Remember that conversation we had at the start of the project where you asked if there was an industry standard for the number of defects and how the test plan had to have a specific number...

Opportunity #3 - an explanation of how a simple defect count does not really provide the information you need to make decisions

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Redheads cant count

Went to Testy Redheads blog to read her article about Learning Python, checked the archive to see if there were other posts and found her blog couldn't count

The archive for February indicates there are 3 articles but only lists 2

The archive for January indicates there are 7 articles but lists 8

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Blue Moon Over Soho

Last night was the second meetup of London Testers and the first one I'd been able to get to ( having a venue 5 minutes from where I was working made it easy !)

David Evans and Mike Scott of SQS were to give a presentation on their Testify tool but the first 15 minutes were spent trying to hook the laptop up to the TV screen. So yes, it was that rare sighting of testers trying to get something to work...

Fortunately there were no Health and Safety officials around to protest at the bar employee holding a candle underneath the TV so that people could see the connections.

Connection finally made, the presentation started. Testify seems a neat idea, it allows a fully running project to be created with a set of trivial unit and acceptance tests that serve as examples for your tests, batch files to build the project and run all tests in the suite. A number of common test tools are supported -Fitnesse, Junit and easyb has just been added. It's all open source and available here

Seems like a really easy way to get up and started with BDD so if I have any spare time I'll be giving it a spin. Been a while since I've looked at a build file churning through all it's files

After the presentation it was networking time and we moved upstairs and got to feel like VIP's as part of the bar was roped off for our private use.

Didn't network as much as I would have liked to do as I got chatting to Steve Green from Test Partners and heard about he got into testing, some hair-raising tales of projects he's done and the problems of testing websites that involve elephants - and then had to head off for the train home

Excellent evening, looking forward to the next one

Monday, 15 February 2010

Make your mind up - cute or techy ?

Error messages like the one above annoy me. Firstly they try to hide the fact that they have messed up by being cutesy and use a word like 'Whoops'

Then they compound that by giving a techy explanation that most people will not understand. I asked a representative sample of one ( the wife sitting next to me ) it they knew what XML was - answer was no

and the compounded error is compounded even more by the techy explanation "The XML appears to be incorrect". 'appears to be' - well it either is or isn't, dont you know ?

Or maybe I was just grouchy afer getting such a pathetic score

Friday, 12 February 2010

Testers and Devs grooving together ? easy

Off to Skills Matter again for another in their series of free events on Agile Testing. This time the event was Acceptance-Test Driven Development - Bring Developers and Testers Together with John Smart of Wakaleo Consulting

Not as many people as the previous weeks session and a different mix of audience - more developers than testers

I'm starting to get a bit of a headache with the acronyms - this was a talk about ATDD, there was a show of hands to see who did TDD, who did BDD and then the introductory slide has a bullet point BDD style Acceptance tests. Hmmm, so were we going to hear about ATDD or BDDAT ?

John did make the excellent point that one of the main aspecs of acceptance tests is that they are a communication tool and focus on the the what rather than the how

The talk focused on a tool called easyb. Seems similar to Cucumber that I saw last week, supports stories and specifications, based on Groovy has a 'before' feature to allow setup before the tests are run.

The examples used were the usual noddy ones - this time it was the bank account one, taking money out of a current account and putting it into a savings account. This is one problem I have, trying to make the jump to the projects I am working on and how the tool could be used. More real-life examples and stories would be useful - though of course if there is only a 30 minute talk it cant all get crammed in

or maybe the examples are real-life and this explains the financial crisis of recent years
Given a customer with $1 in their pocket
When they ask for a mortgage to buy a huge McMansion
Then approve their loan

As a big banker
I want to get a yearly bonus
So that I can keep my houses and cars going

Interesting talk though that made me want to dig out my Ruby book and play around with it again and try out some of the BDD tools. Only reservation I would have about the talk was that it was very much about easyb and very little on how to Bring Developers and Testers Together

Talk over and off to the pub for networking. Initial chat was about the range of tools our there and how to choose. Once again, back to the tools...

Thanks to Nathan Bain for organising it

Saturday, 6 February 2010

A fruitful evening

Thursday evening was another in the series of free Agile Testing events at SkillsMatter and a chance to listen to Gojko Adzic talk about BDD with Cucumber

My first visit to the new venue for SkillsMatter and it was pleasing to see the event packed out with people having to sit at the side and stand at the back.

The talk itself was interesting, especially as I knew very little about Cucumber and BDD. The list of tools that Cucumber integrates with was large ( WebRat, Steam, Watir, Selenium etc etc - some tools I had heard of, others were new to me and a reminder that this is a fast moving field which means it is easy to get left behind - another good reason to go to events like this )

Someone had their Twitter account open and was posting to it as well as keeping notes - wish they had a quieter keyboard and I hate to think what it would be like if everyone in the audience had their laptops open during presentations !

A slight glitch in Gojko's talk when the example he had up on his slide couldn't be read by the audience but a dimming of the lights helped. The examples were the usual noddy 'Hello World' ones but gave enough flavour for me to want to dust off my Ruby book and try some of this out for myself

Talk was fairly short which meant there was plenty of time for networking at the pub afterwards. Nice to meet up with Nathan Bain, organiser of the Agile Testing (London ) meetup group and also meet up again with Antony Marcano and his pairing partner Andy Palmer and hear about their new venture, RiverGlide

Next session is already set up - ATDD - Bring Developers And Testers Together Feb 11th. Sessions are free, the pub afterwards is close by so no reason for testers in London not to be keeping up with developments in agile testing.

Final word goes to Gojko with this warning about using Cucumber

"It's a tool, so like a sharp knife, if you cut yourself then it's your own fault"

Yup, those cucumbers can be dangerous - so use with care.

( according to Wikipedia cucumbers are fruits although perceived, prepared and eaten as vegetables. So there )

Sunday, 24 January 2010

A Saturday Afternoon At The Opera

Another weekend and another session of the European Chapter of Weekend Testers

Our mission this week - write some scenarios for Soap Opera testing of Bing Maps.

An interesting challenge which shows why the Weekend Testing movement is such a great resource for a tester. I've read about soap opera testing but never had the chance to put it to work and a session like this was a chance to get a taste for it.
But it was only a taste - by the time the mission was explained, some thoughts about the problem, some interruptions from the Skype icon flashing ( must learn to ignore this ) and then reminders from Markus that we had to send our reports in and the time was gone.

I also lost time as I deviated from the mission and went off and tried out a couple of my scenarios and lost more time as I found a 'script running slowly' error which meant a reload of the app and attempts to reproduce the problem.

Managed to write 2 scenarios and found that writing good ones requires a lot of thought. The good thing about doing this with other testers is that I can now go off and look and see what they came up with and learn from them

Time-up and it was the second-half of the session which is just as valuable ( maybe more so ) than the first which is where the session is discussed and the discussions fly off on all sorts of tangents.

One discussion was the fact that some of us went 'off mission' and actually used the app and got distracted by that. Guilty as charged but in my defence, your honour, I spend all week with people insisting i keep to my mission so their metrics look good so I relish my freedom at the weekend...

We disussed what to do about this as a test manager. Do you want to know if your testers are going off mission, do you encourage it ( maybe you should build in a 20% time a la Google to let testers follow their instincts and maybe you should have some metrics to see if more problems are found when testers go off mission than when they are on it ( sorry, suffering from metric overload on my current project ))

Another tangent was whether I was a SuperHero or not... Being a good tester I've got to know the app I'm working on backwards. I know the business side, the techy side and almost know every word in every requirement doc and tech spec. So when testers new to the project write their tests or think they have found defects they are run by me first to see if they make sense. Does this make me a Hero ? I think not - but does mean the project is suffering from The Bus factor in that there would be a problem if I was to be hit by one

A discussion on conferences and the shortsightedness of companies unwilling to send their tester there. A topical topic as Matt Heusser posted a guide to Conferences On The Cheap - or organise your own as Tony Bruce did ( Tony was on the session and good to have him on board )

So I am totally sold on the Weekend Testing concept
Great way to try out and learn new approaches ( anyone recommend any books/blogs on soap opera testing ? ) and great discussions with fellow testers

Sunday, 17 January 2010

weekend testing

What is weekend testing ? Testing to see how long the coffee stays hot in the coffee machine ? Whether the toast stays the same slice after slice ? How many Sunday supplements can the paper boy deliver ? Those are all good options

Or you can spend the weekend taking part in the first session of the European chapter of Weekend Testing, a chance for testers to test an app and interact with fellow testers and discuss their findings

Thanks to Anna Baik and Markus Gärtner for setting up and to Ajay Balamurugadas for being an excellent facilitator for the session.

We had an image processing program to test and an hour to do it. Not a long time especially as I have a competetive nature and found myself wanting to find some showstopping or cool bugs to show the other testers. I also found myself distracted by moving pencils - the session was held over a Skype chat and people were asking Ajay questions and whenever they did the Skype window would show pencils frantically moving away

After an hour there was an hours discussion on our findings - well it was meant to be an hour but after an hour and 20 minutes Ajay had to try and call a halt to proceedings as I'm sure we could have gone on for a few hours more.

Even though I didn't find any showstopping bugs it was an enjoyable and thought provoking exercise. Having domain knowledge would have helped for certain areas - how do you tell if a posterizing filter has worked correctly ??? asking questions beforehand was useful ( some of the participants were excellent at that ) - good timing as I had just been listening to the Bach brothers podcast about The trap of not asking questions

Overall though it was simply a lot of fun to be interacting with other testers and finding out how they had approached the tasks and their thoughts on it afterwards

More sessions are planned - only slight drawback is the name of the group - 'weekend testing' - I do like my lazy weekends away from work at the moment...

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Farmerror Giles

Farmville is the latest craze on Facebook and has 350 million users

The game itself is a fertile ground for bugs - see the above image for the latest.
Often the game is updated and there are problems, can be slow to load, infuriates people - and yet read those numbers again
200 billion page views a month. 350 million users clock in 200 billion page views.

why bother going for zero defects when you have this many users ?

now pardon me, I have some tomatoes to harvest...

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Leonardo ( not the teenage mutant ninja turtle )

My local library had an IT maintenance weekend so no-one was able to take books out but they were selling old books off very cheaply so I got myself a copy of 'How to think like Leonardo Da Vinci' for the bargain price of 50 pence.

The book has seven Da Vincian principles to follow, all of which seem to be the same principles a great tester would have

Curiosita - an insatiably curious approach to life and an unrelenting quest for learning

Dimonstrazione - a commitment to test knowleldge through experience, persistence and a willingness to learn from mistakes

Sensazione - the continual refinement of the senses, especially sight, as the means to enliven experience

Sfumato ( literally 'going up in smoke' ) - a willingness to embrace ambiguity, paradox and uncertainty

Arte/Scienza - the development of the balance between science and art, logic and imagination. "Whole-brain thinking"

Corporalita - the cultivation of grace, ambidexteriy, fitness and poise

Connessione - a recognition of and appreciation for the interconnectedness of all things and phenomena. Systems thinking

Leonardo also seemed to have something to say on the certification debate.
He described himself as uomo senza lettere ( "man without letters" ) and discipello della esprienza ( "disciple of experience" )...