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First Weeknight Testing and my six lessons

Posted on Posted in Defects, Functional Testing, Software Testing, Training / Conferences

I liked the purpose, idea, and motivation behind weekend testing from day one. Unfortunately, till now I did not participate in any session because of… well excuses :-). Finally, I attended my first ever week-night testing session last week. To say that I liked this session is an understatement – I got hooked and will try harder to attend most of the weekend and the week-night session is probably the right thing to say. In this post, I will briefly summarize my experience and lessons I learned in this session.

For this session, we did not have any prior instructions and following instructions were given to all the participants –

  • Take around 15 minutes to download and install Sellarium
  • Test this application for next 45 minutes
  • Exchange notes and discussion in the last one hour.

You might think that spending two hours on a Wednesday night on this exercise after office hours is insane, but believe me, that was amazing fun.

We got 15 minutes to download and install an unfamiliar application and only 45 minutes to test it. I knew time is limited so I tried to gather as much information as I could to hit the ground running. I had zero knowledge of astronomy and network speed at my home gave me the opportunity to learn / Google some information about the domain. So by the time application was downloaded and installed, I had links such as http://www.fourmilab.ch/yoursky/, http://www-istp.gsfc.nasa.gov/stargaze/Slatlong.htm, and http://www.getlatlon.com/ for my reference.

Lesson 1 – There is always something useful to do instead of waiting for an application.

Gathering information about the domain, understanding technologies & architecture, looking at competing products, talking to developers / business analyst, thinking about automation are some of the activities which can help the project.

Okay, back to session.

After the installation, next 45 minutes were spent in testing the application with the mission to find as many functional bugs as we can. Since this mission was a bit vague, all of us started exploring application on our own. We had a very little discussion during this session – apart from few questions and performance issues in the application.

Lesson 2 – Train mind to work in a time-boxed session. Time-boxing will keep mind focussed and make it work harder.

Since the time was limited, it was easier for me to focus hundred percent on the task at hand. Time-boxing will keep mind focussed and make it work harder.

Lesson 3 – Keep test ideas and heuristics handy and see which one can be applied

Apply, use, reject or refine heuristics quickly if there is not enough time. Also keep your mind open to create a new one if you observe a pattern.

Lesson -4 – Throw unexpected things at mind to ensure that it always have some freshness.

Things like weekend testing are perfect for this – Now I do not say that I have become an expert in astronomy and will be working on a NASA project soon, but I know a little more about astronomy than before. Also, my mind knows that unexpected things happen here. Will it help me in reducing in-attentional blindness at work? Well, I do not know that, worth a try anyways 🙂

After 45 minutes testing session, it was time to debrief and exchange notes with everyone. Format to exchange these notes was pretty simple and following four questions covered pretty much everything –

– Did you enjoy the session?
– How did you learn the application? What do you feel helped you learn this application faster?
– Did u meet the mission? If yes how? If not why?
– Bugs Please?

I will share my notes later, but when I looked at the answers of other people, I got interesting insights. That is because everyone followed a different approach, had a different level of knowledge, used different tools and observed different things. These notes and discussion around them are useful resource / reference and gave me many things to learn.

Lesson 5 – Always take other people’s opinion on what to test and how to test.

They might have an unexplored interesting test idea. Participating in weekend testing makes it easier to see that many people have different and useful ideas. When we know that other people have useful ideas, it becomes easier for us to ask them – so how would you test it?

At least in this session, we did not log these defects anywhere and just exchanged notes for the purpose of improving our skills. However, I do feel that these notes / defects can be useful if they are logged and forwarded to folks who are developing / maintaining these projects.

Lesson 6 – There is nothing wrong in sleeping well even if there are defects, provided we gave our hundred percent

45 minutes were not enough to test this application, and 6 months might not be enough to test other applications. As long as we as a tester have given our hundred percent, identified everything we could with the given time, budget and other constraint and updated stakeholders / managers – it is okay.

Needless to say that these learning and other testing skills will not be developed overnight by attending 1 or 2 odd sessions. However, attending these sessions regularly, going through notes of other people and exchanging ideas with them will certainly improve testing skills.

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