Monday, July 28, 2008

Lessons From an Expert.

Last two days my team had attended a class on Skilled Exploratory Testing from the expert himself, Pradeep Soundararajan. More than the classroom sessions, it was the interactions we had with Pradeep that made a difference. It had reinforced many a of my personal beliefs about testing and also busted some of the myths.

I'd always believed that testing a software product was an intellectual exercise, its a skill that needs to be practiced and the practitioners will get better at it by "riyaz" aka practise. For those who'd like to know about riyaz here the link of what it means to a musician. We can relate what it means to a software tester. Pradeep had demonstrated what can be achieved by riyaz with 1 hour of exploratory testing of a product he's never seen before!

I'd believed my team always did exploratory testing, this was reinforced to some degree but also we found some flaws in the process we'd been following. Most of the testers did not follow a "written script" of any kind while they were testing. Even those who had a script, may not have followed it in letter or spirit. Most of our testers did not really document when they were 'exploring' the product. The mission statement for the exploratory testing session they performed was often in their head and changing when they were testing. They were focused on the activity, but the testing "sessions" were often long, extending over days or even weeks. We didn't have a debriefing meeting. Defect finding, investigations, debugging, environment creation, data creation, even status meetings were all part of these "sessions" ( or whatever name we'd have given to this until of time" ) . On the other hand, we were not bounded by any detailed written scripts that stated, "click this", "click that", "if this than pass, if not then fail". At least we did not take away the creativity from the testers, but then again we did not have a structure were by we could focus the testers creativity. Important thing to note, we were finding defects in the product, critical ones and all of us were getting better and better at finding defects and that's whats expected from a testing team.

There are tools that we could use to amplify our effectiveness, pair-testing, heuristics, oracles and many more. Again, automated test execution has its rightful place and so do "intelligent human testing", one is never a substitute for the other.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Final Days And The Finish Line!

The past several weeks were rather hectic. We were reaching the end of release our our product. From the inception of the project to the final testing signoff, its been two long years.
The final build had arrived last week and our testing team had performed the routine sanity checks on all the four supported operating systems.
Activity of the signoff was rather a non-event. A simple click on a "signed-off" checkbox.
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The Elusive Bug by Rajesh Kazhankodath is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 India License.