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