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Exploratory Test Repository – What does that mean? January 6, 2010

Posted by yvettefrancino in Uncategorized.

I’ve been talking about creating this “Exploratory Test Repository” and a few people have wanted to get some clarification.  I was planning on a call with James Whittaker tomorrow, since he was the one that sparked this idea in the presentation he gave, though I decided to postpone the meeting until January 20th.   Before I talked to him, I wanted to get a better idea of existing resources.

Michael Bolton pointed me to some additional resources a few weeks ago.   James Bach responded to my message via LinkedIn making me aware of  these additional resources:

Cem Kaner’s book Testing Computer Software. Later I coined the term “risk catalog” back in 1999 or so, and published an example of such a catalog for install testing as part of my class notes.

Cem calls them “bug taxonomies” and one of his students at FIT produced and published such a taxonomy for testing e-commerce sites.

The Satisfice heuristic test strategy model is also such a list, although it cuts across technologies.

Michael Hunter’s “YANDY” lists are voluminous and technology specific.

My thought was that if all these resources could be combined into a common format and the data stored in a database that it might be a helpful resource for the test community.  It would also allow for the possibility of develop and share utilities aimed at catching common types of bugs.

James noted how important it is for testers to actually LEARN TO TEST as opposed to using “cheat sheets.” I think the point here is that you are not going to be adding much value if you are just following a step-by-step script. Testers need to really understand the technology and the applications they’re testing and think creatively.

James is serious enough about helping others learn to test that he’s offered free coaching sessions via Skype for those who are eager to learn.  I was intrigued by this creative approach and think this is just another example of how we can use technology to share and help one another, regardless of physical location.

Anyway, as much as I agree with James that creative thinking in testing is necessary, I still think a database that would allow for sharing of common bugs and techniques for finding those bugs (what I’m referring to as an “Exploratory Test Repository) would be a helpful tool.

What are your thoughts?



1. Albert Gareev - January 6, 2010

Hi Yvette,

I like the idea of test knowledge repository. It already exists on the Web but bringing it together, categorizing and cross-referencing, like in Wikipedia, would definitely benefit entrees in this field. But how you’re going to deal with copyrighted materials?
Selling books and courses in software testing is business interest.

Another concern is about definition you use: “common types of bugs”. Did you mean common types of weaknesses and vulnerabilities in software and common techniques targeting them? If yes – it might help as the knowledge to gain but not as a number of exercises to perform in order to find some bugs.

yvettefrancino - January 6, 2010

Hi Albert, Thanks for the feedback… Just what I was looking for!

Yes, I’d stay away from copyrighted material and pretty much collect information that was available via the Web or what others want to contribute. (There is an amazing amount of material already available for free via the Web…it just needs to be consolidated in an organized manner!) One of the fields in the database would be a link to the original source (blog, reference site, tool, etc.) Perhaps there could also be a way for those that have used the technique/utility to comment or review on how well it worked for them.

This wouldn’t substitute for the need of specialized testing. Obviously knowledge of the application and underlying architecture is necessary to do a thorough test. But it may help in the ability to share utilities/techniques etc. for common vulnerabilities, weaknesses, or types of bugs. (I think as we start cataloging these, they will fall into categories that will make sense…)

2. Michael Bolton - January 6, 2010

I started a list of online resources at http://www.developsense.com/resources.shtml#exploratory_testing

—Michael B.

yvettefrancino - January 6, 2010

Michael, that’s a very comprehensive list of lists (and other resources!)

I’ve had a parallel discussion via LinkedIn with your colleague, James Bach, which can be found here (if you’re a member of the Exploratory Testing Group on LinkedIn) http://www.linkedin.com/newsArticle?viewDiscussion=&articleID=101067636&gid=2176040

After some discussion and research, I’ve found that http://www.softwareqatest.com, while not a “database” has a lot of QA/Test information including tools and links to resources.

If you’re OK with it, I’ll send an email to the site’s admin suggesting he add a link to the exploratory_testing resources that you list, so that this valuable resource can be included.

I think with all of this available, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel with yet another repository, so I will be satisfied with the wealth of information that is out there! Thanks so much for putting it together, Michael! I will send some additional updates via my blog and the Beyond Certification Broadcast message in the next week.

Thanks, again,

3. And the Award for Best Software Engineering Website Goes to…. « New World Software Quality Assurance - January 7, 2010

[…] the last couple of days I’ve been blogging about creating a “Exploratory Testing Repository to try and organize a lot of this d… Well,  after a good discussion with James Bach via a LinkedIn thread and reviewing this […]

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