Thursday, April 29, 2010

Top 100 Software Testing Blogs have put together a list of the Top 100 Software Testing Blogs:

Unfortunately, I didn't make it - that'll teach me to update my blog more regularly and have something worthwhile to read on it! :-)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Michael Bolton's "Burning Issues of the Day"

A mini track session presentation at EuroSTAR 2009 in Stockholm, Sweden:

This is a must read! Takes 5 minutes and I actually laughed out load. Some of the slides are extremely close to the truth.

One of my favourites:

Bad metrics are not “better than nothing”. Friendly fire is not better than not shooting.

And another goody:

The Agilistas did not discover pairing, or test-first programming. They’re like teenagers who’ve just discovered sex. It IS great, but calm down.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Review of Professional Tester Mag

Within a week of hearing that Professional Tester is back on the shelves, I had signed up for a subscription.

A European-based testing magazine with the aim "to provide practical help and inspiration to testers everywhere" – fantastic!

However, it may be too early as the magazine is just finding its feet, but I am fighting disappointment.

Number 1 = 15 pages, decreasing to 13 once ads are removed.

Number 2 = 19 pages. Okay, it's meatier. It has a couple more articles.

The articles have interesting elements – but they're not rocking my world!

BUT, it's only number 2 and a magazine is only as good as its contributors so I'm putting out a call to those that read my blog: lets share our knowledge!

Let's make this magazine something that works for us! There is a large test community in Ireland who are knowledgeable and experienced and this magazine is a great opportunity for you to contribute!

So contribute!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Testing Women

I love this post:

As a woman, working in an engineering company, I am definitely in the minority, which frankly I'm used to now. In college I was also in the minority which was definitely a culture shock having come from 14 years of convent schooling (all girls, everywhere!). But I'm over it now, it's the norm for me.

There are difficulties sometimes with perception and opinions. An adjective used to describe a guy is positive yet when the same adjective is used to describe a woman, it has negative connotations.

I definitely agree, having a mix of gender in a team is beneficial to the team's success. It reduces testosterone level, and as one man said to me, it has a calming effect. And we all think differently, which is what you want in a testing team.

Yet somehow, I seem to be collecting women! In a department of 16, with two managers, I have all 4 women (including myself) in my team. We actually have a majority of woman! How weird is that?

What Makes a Good Exploratory Tester?

Exploratory testing combines learning, test design, and test execution into one test approach.

We apply heuristics and techniques in a disciplined way so that the actual testing reveals more implications than just thinking about a problem.

As you test, you learn more about the system under test and can use that information to help design new tests.

Exploratory testing should start with a charter of what aspects of the functionality will be explored.

It requires critical thinking, interpreting the results, and comparing them to expectations or similar systems.

With exploratory testing, each tester has a different approach to a problem, and has a unique style of working.

However, there are certain attributes that make for a good exploratory tester.

A good tester:

  • Is systematic, but pursues "smells" (anomalies, pieces that aren't consistent).
  • Learns to recognize problems through the use of Oracles.
  • Chooses a theme or role or mission statement to focus testing.
  • Time-boxes sessions and side trips.
  • Thinks about what the expert or novice user would do.
  • Explores together with domain experts.
  • Checks out similar or competitive applications.


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Good Testers Vs Great Testers

Successful projects are a result of good people allowed to do good work.

Good testers are continually looking for ways the team can do a better job of producing high-quality software.

They help the developer and customer teams address any kind of issue that might arise.

Creativity, openness to ideas, willingness to take on any task or role, focus on the customer, and a constant view of the big picture are just some components of an effective testing mind-set.

Good testers have an instinct and understanding for where and how software might fail, and how to track down failures.

In my opinion the difference between a good tester and a great tester is that a great tester has the soft skills to influence and communicate in a manner that they become vital to the project, whether they are fighting their way in or are enthusiastically welcomed with an open door.

Let's be honest, not always will everything line up wonderfully for us so that we can do the great job that we know we can do. But blaming the project removes our ability to control and influence the situation so that we can bend to our will.

Great testing requires a toolbox full of soft skills, including:

  • Communication
  • Influencing
  • Negotiating
  • Stakeholder management
  • Emotional Intelligence

We often don't sufficiently prioritize the development of these skills in our testers. It's much easier to make the case for ISTQB training expenditure than a soft skill class.

However, if we are to develop great testers, we must invest in soft skills as well as technical testing knowledge.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Great Quote on Quality

So I have a chest infection and I'm stuck at home sick, and I'm so very bored. Having given up on daytime tv, I'm reading through back issues of Better Software (I never said I wasn't a bit of a nerd!). Anyways, I came across this great quote from James Bach on Quality:

"Quality is not an intrinsic characteristic of software. It's a relationship among the product, the people who have expectations about the product, and the world around them."

Why Testers Should Study Critical Thinking?

Critical thinking is the process of applying reasoned and disciplined thinking to a subject. So why should testers study critical thinking?

Well duh! You're a tester. Every day you have a piece of software that you must break. That you must critically analyze to determine where to invest your time. Where to invest your time where it will pay off in bug reports but also in areas that the customer will actually need to use. All to achieve the end goal of finding those bugs that will detract the customer from their end goal.

The best testers use critical thinking, they find more bugs, they find better bugs, and they use the software under test as a customer would.

Critical thinking facilitates a tester in:
  • understanding the logical connections between software components;
  • identifying assumptions in the design of the software under test;
  • evaluating the correctness of the design of the software;
  • evaluating the ease of use of the software;
  • detecting inconsistencies in the software design;
  • identifying mistakes or bugs in the software;
  • recognizing which features are the highest priority and why;
  • unearthing bias in one's own thinking and that of the developers of the software. 
Furthermore, critical thinking is a necessity in the effective creation of arguments. Daily testers must argue or advocate for bug fixes, testability features, or enhancements in the software.

Acquiring critical thinking skills helps you to develop more reasoned arguments and draw out the inferences in others' arguments. With heightened critical thinking to support your advocacy, you will have more of your bugs fixed, you will gain the credibility that developers respect, thereby, developers will incorporate your testability suggestions and your enhancement ideas into the software.

Critical thinking enhances language and presentation skills. Thinking clearly and systematically can improve the way we express our ideas.

In learning how to analyze the logical structure of texts, critical thinking also improves comprehension abilities. Comprehension abilities are a necessity when reviewing system requirement specifications. Critical thinking will aid you in reviewing these documents, to ask clarifying questions, and to pinpoint inconsistencies in the design.

Critical thinking promotes creativity. To come up with a creative (and problem-solving) solution to a problem involves not just having new ideas. It must also be the case that the new ideas being generated are useful and relevant to the task at hand as well as effectively communicated to others. Critical thinking plays a crucial role in evaluating the merit of new ideas, selecting the best ones, identifying the holes in the argument, and modifying them if necessary. Where in testing does this place an essential role? In exploratory testing of course!

Exploratory testing is all about creativity, determining new routes through the software, determining new ways the software can fail, and determining how the customer may use the software. Critical thinking will aid you in your decision regarding which routes to take, it will focus your mind on the areas of software that may be bug-heavy, and because it feeds creativity, you may come up with one or two ideas that just "spring to mind". Why? Because you have an improved process of thinking which causes your mind to open itself up to a whole new set of possibilities.

Critical thinking involves:
  • Analyzing tasks
  • Identifying assumptions
  • Analyzing and classifying
  • Making comparisons
  • Problem solving
  • Questioning and challenging ideas
  • Observing facts versus assumptions & inferences
  • Judging the validity of the source and the worth of the evidence
  • Forming and effectively communicating opinions & arguments
  • Identifying arguments
  • Evaluating the validity of an argument
  • Drawing inferences
  • Making generalizations
All of the above are the meat and bones of testing and are the very things that no testing class can effectively teach you.

The study of critical thinking will empower your testing and will increase your effectiveness.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Sogeti Ireland

I've just finished viewing another Sogeti Webinar, "Applying TPI®NEXT to your situation".

Sogeti is a commercial business and I have links to them:

  • I'm on the softtest committee who are sponsored by Sogeti
  • Recently, I got them in-house to deliver "Advanced Test Techniques"

They're not concrete links – I don't benefit in any way financially from them (although I'll never say no to a free book). But they are links nonetheless.

So having "come clean" with above links, I want to take this opportunity to thank Sogeti.

They are doing an incredible job of educating the test community in Ireland with their free webinars!

Every time I attend a webinar, I learn something, my pre-existing opinions may be challenged, or I look at something in a new way that opens up exciting ideas and opportunities to build on.

Each webinar is recorded so if I have a conflict and am unable to watch "live", I can catch up later.

If you're not viewing these webinars, then you are missing out!

Check out: for their upcoming scheduled webinars and for their archive.

Monday, April 12, 2010

User Profiles in Testing

I just finished reading Joel Montveliksy's blog called:

5 Ideas on how “User Profiles” can Improve Your Testing

I really like the concept.

What struck me most is I asked myself, "how well do I understand the users of the software that I test?"

Joel proposes that each user profile should contain all the personal and professional traits that are relevant to the work this person does with your software. That includes describing how the user works, what their goals for using your software are, what annoys and frustrates them, what delights them, and so on....

How many of us can sit down and describe our users?

Shouldn't these user profiles, whether we use them or not, be created and validated by others? To ensure that our assumptions are correct?

Shouldn't this be absolutely essential if our testing is as effective as it can be?

SoftTest Webinar: Testing a SaaS Platform on an Agile World

SoftTest free webinar Wednesday, April 21, 2010 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM BST

Testing a SaaS (Software as a Service) Platform on an Agile World

SaaS (Software as a Service) products and applications are becoming more common in today’s development Industry, especially as Cloud Computing becomes a household name pushed forward by software players such as Google, Microsoft, Apple, etc.

In contrast to regular Web-Based systems, SaaS applications require a different approach to testing than what we are used to from other more traditional projects. In some cases testing a SaaS system is simpler than testing a regular Web-based platforms, but in many others it is a lot more challenging and demanding. It’s made even more interesting by the fact that many of the teams developing SaaS Applications are based Agile Development Methodologies.

In this webinar, Joel Montvelisky will provide an overview of the main areas to cover when testing a SaaS Application or Platform based on his own experience at PractiTest (a SaaS QA Management Platform developed by his company). He will give some insights into the type of approaches and ideas that work best, and will also talk about some of the tools and methodologies his team currently uses while testing PractiTest.

The seminar is aimed at Test Engineers, Test Leaders, QA Managers, Project Managers, Developers and Development Managers.

Please see below a link to the registration page.

Webinar features:

All of the content is online. For audio, you can listen with headphones or speakers (VOIP option) or dial-in using a local number.

We can also record the presentation and have it available to view afterwards.

Short Bio
Joel Montvelisky is one of the founders and Product Architect of PractiTest, a company providing an End-to-End Test and QA Management System. He is also a QA Instructor and Consultant for multiple high-tech firms in Israel.

Joel has been part of the QA Industry for over 13 years, having managed the QA in companies ranging from small Internet Start-Ups and all the way to HP/Mercury where he managed the QA for TestDirector/Quality Center, QTP, WR and additional products in their Testing Platforms Family.

A member of the Advisory Board of the Israeli Testing Certification Board (the Israeli chapter of the ISTQB); he publishes articles and a periodic QA blog under http:/, and is an active speaker in local and international conferences. Joel holds a B.Sc in Industrial Engineering and an MBA from Tel Aviv University.

Thanks to our sponsors and our supporters in organising this webinar:
Sogeti Ireland
Software Skillnet
Anne-Marie Charrett of Testing Times