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

Posted by yvettefrancino in Uncategorized.
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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?

Once in a Blue Moon January 1, 2010

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Remember 10 years ago when there was all the Y2K scare? Those of us that were working in the software industry were going about endless testing in the end of 1999, trying to ensure all the predictions of chaos would not come to fruition on Jan. 1, 2000.

I was on call that night, managing a remote staff.  My Australian staff member had the first glimpse of the New Year and we all breathed easier as all the code continued to work as the time changed across time zones without incident.

I wondered last night whether anyone was worried about date logic this year.  By this time, we should be pretty smart about dealing with coding and testing date logic in our applications, but it does seem to be an error prone area.  And with last night being a Blue Moon and all, I wondered if there were any superstitions or Y2K-like fears that logic would be broken by the unusual circumstance.

I read about Blue Moon in Wikipedia:

Recent popular usage defined a blue moon as the second full moon in a calendar month, stemming from an interpretation error made in 1946 that was discovered in 1999.[1]

So, in fact, last night’s Blue Moon might not really be a “Blue Moon.” Is there some astrologer somewhere using faulty software that will be confused?  With all the recent interests in Vampires, does something different happen on a Blue Moon? Will the Vampires of the world need to make sure their iPhone apps are working correctly and know whether in fact last night was actually a “Blue” moon? There’s a whole lot more about Blue Moons in the article, but I didn’t see any explanation of exactly why it’s called “Blue.”  It doesn’t look any bluer than any other full moon. As I sat pondering this unusual occurrence of a 2nd full moon, referred to (perhaps erroneously) as blue moon coupled with a passing of a decade, I wondered if the software gurus of the world were catching any unusual bugs…  those types that only happen once in a blue moon..

In any case, we did have a second full moon last night as we passed from the last night of 2009 and into the first day of 2010. I don’t know if it caused any computer glitches or confusion amongst the astrologists and vampires, but it looked pretty darn beautiful to me.

//

Spend Time With the Baby December 31, 2009

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It’s New Year’s Eve, and as usual, my goal list of all the things I want to do is fully loaded. I love the internet. An endless library to browse and learn from. So many tools and technologies for us to play with. So many people to connect with.

I’ve been loving these past months of learning, reading, writing, blogging, and networking. Who knew being unemployed could be so fulfilling?  But this last couple of weeks, over the holidays, I decided to take a break and concentrate on family.

See that adorable baby? That’s my little grandson (I’d like to add here that both his mother and I had our first born at very young ages. He is the only person that is allowed to call me “Grandma” which still sounds like: “Ah!” (The word he uses to describe everything.))  I’m lucky enough to have that cute little guy (along with his parents) living 30 minutes from me. I also have a son going to Medical School in Denver and another son, my 15-year-old baby, still at home.  I haven’t had to run off to a job for the past 6 months, yet, I’m sorry to say, I didn’t take advantage of spending more time with those people that are most important to me.  Funny that when I was working, I seemed to make more of an effort to achieve “work-life balance” than I have since I’ve been unemployed.

The internet can be so addicting. It’s great to enjoy our work, technology, and all our virtual friends and contacts, but not at the expense of the “real” people in our life.  So, while my resolution list still includes plenty of job-related goals, my most important resolution is to spend more time with those people that I love.

Diego, Grandma will set you up with a Twitter account, and we’ll get you tweeting that cute little “Ah!” all over the Web.

May 2010 be filled with peace and happiness.

Santa is learning how to telecommute December 24, 2009

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The FuMP.

I’m happy to see that even Santa is getting set up to telecommute! Last night, as I inched my way along the highways in a Colorado storm to get to and from a holiday event, I thought how glad I was that I didn’t have a commute.   There are some definite perks to unemployment.

Of course, ideally employers would realize that with the technology that’s available to us these days, most people can work from anywhere — not only can they be effective, they can often be MORE productive than when they’re in the office!

You go, Santa! Let’s keep the trend going!

Tester Types eBook – Courtesy of The Software Testing Club December 21, 2009

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Just out today, in the category of “fun stuff to read” is the new Tester Types eBook put out by Software Testing Club‘s Rob Lambert and Rosie Sherry.  The book outlines 19 different Tester Types, complete with a cute avatar depicting each type and a description of their personality.

I, of course, like “The Boss.”

THE BOSS
Observed Behaviour : Chilled, relaxed, in control, great communicator and has the respect of the
team
Favourite Phrase : Not a problem
Nemesis : Senior Management
The Boss is essentially the opposite of the Micromanager.

The Boss gets R.E.S.P.E.C.T. The Boss can say ‘No’ to management and often does, which
makes them unpopular above, but truly respected by those below. But The Boss doesn’t see anyone as
being below or above. They just see a team and a set of goals and respect all for their opinions and
skills. And if The boss has goals that are vague or impossible, The Boss will say so.

The Boss picks a team of people who will work well together, not just individual talent. The Boss
picks a well balanced team of experienced and junior team members. The Boss considers the social
make up of the team, rather than the individual team members. The Boss understands that junior
team members need to learn and often have the most creative minds. The Boss understands that
teams can make or break a project.

The Boss buys cakes and beer for their team. The Boss trusts every member of their team. The Boss
is fair, yet critical at the same time.

In other words. The Boss is a leader….an inspirer. They have integrity, honesty and trust. They stand
up for what they believe in, but are not arrogant or misguided. And if you find a boss like this, you are
very lucky indeed.

I like to think this is an accurate description of the type of Boss that I am.  One difference, though…

My Nemesis isn’t Senior Management.  (I feel it’s especially important to note this lest any Senior Managers out there want to hire me.)  If I could name a Nemesis, it would probably be the Whiners.  I have a hard time tolerating people who whine and don’t take action to correct whatever it is they’re whining about.

I can see this book being the new Myers-Briggs (only it would have to be called Lambert-Sherry) personality typing system for testers.  And maybe the new set of playing cards (like Pokeman or Yugi-oh).  There could be a whole handbook that describes vulnerabilities, strengths, and power points.  And next will come the movie!

Note: The Software Testing Club has made this eBook available for download and sharing as long as you abide by the Attribution No Derivatives copyright, reference the creators and have fun in what you do.

Michael Bolton, Exploratory Testing, and Beyond Certification December 18, 2009

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I’ve been meaning to blog about this for a few days, but… where to begin?  I guess I’ll start with last week when I attended James Whittaker‘s presentation on Exploratory Testing.  I blogged about it, and then another industry great, Michael Bolton, left a comment, pointing me to a whole bunch of other resources on Exploratory Testing!

This list keeps me busy. There are a lot of interesting articles and documents and as I explore each resource I find additional resources, tools, and techniques…  It goes on and on!  It’s one of those cases where the more I learn the more I know I don’t know.

Meanwhile, Michael Bolton joined Beyond Certification! Yay! Another celebrity in our midst. It’s like I’m having a party and a bunch of movie stars are joining. (I guess I’d better clarify for those googlers who may be looking for Michael Bolton, the singer, I’m not talking about him.  I’m talking about Michael Bolton, the QA guru guy. You can still join my Beyond Certification party, but there probably won’t be any love songs being sung… )

So there are more and more people at this so-called party, but I need to have some entertainment! (Maybe I should consider a little music!  I think that IS available via Ning.)  I was thinking though, of trying to organize all this great data on heuristics into an easy database app of sorts.  Even though there are so many excellent resources, I’m not finding an online app that will organize it for easy search and updates.  It might be a cool project for our newly formed group…

Exploratory Software Testing with James Whittaker December 10, 2009

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I just finished listening to the uTest Webinar with James Whittaker about Exploratory Testing.  James is the Director of Test Engineering at Google and has written “Exploratory Software Testing: Tips Tricks, Tours, and Techniques to Guide Test Design.”

So this was interesting stuff!  I always thought of “exploratory testing” as “adhoc” testing, but as James pointed out, it’s much more.  He started by giving several examples of some classic anecdotal bugs…  One such bug is demonstrated in the map… rather roundabout way of getting from Start to Finish!  James noted that there are techniques that testers use to figure out what the most important tests are and how to go about executing them.  Often this comes from experience. These can fall into patterns. James calls these “tours.”  In his book, James describes a variety of different types of “tours” used as metaphors, that capture the methodology of discovering bugs that are likely to occur in certain situations.

“The Intellectual Tour” is the “tour” where the hard questions are asked…the most complex data or complicated task is done with this tour. The “Rained Out Tour” is about doing things that you didn’t originally plan to do (ie. when your tour is rained out, you take a different route than usual) so you would “cancel” prematurely with this kind of testing.

Another example is the “Landmark” tour.  This is comparable to using a compass in the woods in order to locate landmarks.  With the Landmark tour, you identify a set of software capabilities (the landmarks) and then visit those landmarks, but randomizing their order.  Sometimes, by changing the sequence of events, an unexpected error will occur.

James described how to use Attribute / Component / Capability  matrix (using a Google spreadsheet) to help do a risk analysis and prioritize test cases, testing the most important things first.

Many of us find bugs that are the same kind of bugs that are being found all over the world, based on tester’s creativity and their test strategy.  What if we could capture these “strategies”  (aka “tours” or “patterns”) in a global repository  so that other testers could use those same strategies to find similar bugs? James has begun to do that with his book, and he has challenged others to do more than test…  When you find a bug, document your methodology.  Did you use one of his tours? Or did you come up with a new tour? Let James know on his blog!

After the presentation, James  said he’d give out books to those that asked the best 5 questions.  I frantically struggled for two minutes trying to figure out how to get the question screen up. (I really like to win this kind of stuff, especially being an unemployed test manager who’s trying to sell herself as an expert!)   I finally got the screen up (phew!) and asked if there was an online repository available to share our bugs/tours (patterns, strategy).   James read questions and then he came to the same question that I’d asked (but, unfortunately, asked by a different person) and said, “Great question! Give that person a book!” I’m going to try and make a case that I should get a book, too, especially since  I’m even gonna do one better than just ask the question. I’m going to set up such a repository in the Beyond Certification network.  Maybe being the KUQ (Kiss Up Queen) that I am, I can even get James to join!

Today! – Exploratory Software Testing with James Whittaker December 10, 2009

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I guess I should have given you all an earlier notice about this, but I wanted to let you know that uTest is hosting a Webinar about Exploratory Software Testing with James Whittaker TODAY at 11am MT!

I believe you have to be a member of uTest to attend the Webinar, which I highly recommend.  Even if you don’t want to test, uTest has a lot of great resources and is a cool site (and, of course, my favorite… it’s free! In fact, you can even make money if you test!)

Anyway, this Webinar is today and is described as follows:

Free webinar with testing guru and best-selling author, James Whittaker.
He will discuss topics from his new book on Exploratory Software Testing (we will also be handing out five free copies to attendees, which will be announced at the end of the webinar).

Content:
– How to make test planning more streamlined and prescriptive
– How to be more conscious about testing and test case design
– Techniques for helping testers come up with better test cases
– How to communicate the purpose and intent of test cases

I’ll take notes and blog about it later!

Getting Started With Agile December 9, 2009

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Last month, the government approved my education plan that included Scrum Master Training from Agile University! There was a class scheduled for today and tomorrow and I was all excited because it meant I’d finally get that certification I’ve been after.  It seems like every employer is looking for Agile experience, but I haven’t even had an “official” training yet.   Well, even though the plan was approved, apparently, there was some sort of hold up with paper-work, and so I wasn’t able to get in the class after all.  The next one isn’t until mid-January.

However, even though I have to wait another month to get officially certified, there’s a bunch of agile training stuff on the Rally Software Website.  If you go to the Learn Agile page there are additional links to white papers, articles, Webinars, downloads, etc.  I’m hoping  Rally Software will make some of their products available to us for use on the new network I just set up, “Beyond Certification.”

I’m thinking the first couple of months, I’ll host a meeting every two weeks.   I’ll probably announce the tool, topic, technology (or whatever) with links to resources, and then we can meet (maybe using Dim-Dim, or some other conferencing tool) to discuss learnings.  Then, when we all feel we’re educated enough on agile methodologies, we’ll try and run a short project…  maybe create a FaceBook app, or test an open source tool…

Even though I didn’t make it into the class this month, I feel really lucky that there’s so much information about Agile available for free.  By the time I actually get in the class, I’ll probably know it inside out!

If you’re interested in participating, come join us at: Beyond Certification!

Beyond Certification – Invitation For Those Looking For Professional Development December 8, 2009

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You are cordially invited to join the new network for IT Technologists: Beyond Certification.  This a network for professional development, particularly for job seekers.  As an unemployed IT Manager, I’ve explored the job market thoroughly and have noticed these trends:

1)      There is an abundance of very talented IT Professionals looking for work.

2)      Employers can afford to be picky. They want to see evidence of experience “beyond certification” in the latest Technologies, such as Agile and Automation.

3)      Technologists want to learn the latest trends and technologies. Weekend Testing is a popular group, for example, that hosts events in which testers can use their exploratory testing skills to test open source software.

4)      Telecommuting is a viable option for software development teams. Distributed Agile environments are growing thanks to the many tools and technologies available to allow us to be effective with distributed teams.

5)      Crowdsourced testing is becoming more popular, thanks to the ability to reach people around the world.  uTest.com, for example, is a successful model of crowdsourced testing.

The ultimate goal of Beyond Certification is to gain professional experience with real-life projects leading to long-term employment.  I will be looking for sponsorship amongst tool vendors, such as Rally Software,  and HP.   Then I will be looking for clients who would give us real-life short-term projects.  Initially the focus will be on the test cycle, though I would like to have involvement from project managers, development and business, since I believe effective projects require strong communication from each of these areas. I will also need to have mentors who have experience in the tools and technologies that we will be highlighting for each project.

I will market this group to organizations that are looking to augment their staff or find talent “beyond certification.”  They will give us a short-term project and then I will recruit from the group for people that feel they have the skills and interest to perform the work. At the end of the project, the organization will review the outputs, with the potential of a job offer.  Those that participate in the project will be offered feedback from organization leaders, mentors and tool experts so that they will be able to continue to learn and grow their skills. Besides professional development and feedback, testimonials will be offered for high-performers. And though long-term employment is not guaranteed, participation will improve visibility and give an opportunity to network with hiring organizations.

Benefits

Benefits for Technologists

  • Professional Development
  • Chance to learn and work on latest tools and technologies
  • Potential for Long-term employment
  • Networking opportunities
  • Potential for Freelance Telecommuting

Benefits for Employers

  • If transitioning to new technologies, allows for trying it without committing to changing entire infrastructure
  • Exposure to tools and processes to facilitate distributed Agile practices
  • Get many testers for a short-term project for a much lower cost than outsourcing or hiring a QA staff
  • Potential to find talented candidates for hire based on evidence of good work rather than on resumes, interviews or certifications
  • Low-risk
  • Low-cost

Benefits to Vendors

  • Exposure to their tools, technologies, and services leading to more customers