Blog Posts from February, 2007

Blog vs. Conversation: Please Ask Me About Testing

Wednesday, February 21st, 2007

I’ve realized that I’ve got a couple of problems with blogging regularly. Maybe you can help me to do something about it.

The first issue is that I don’t really like to publish unpolished material in a blog. The draft mechanism handles that, to some degree. I have less of a problem with that if there’s a strong sense of mission about the material that I’m publishing–so writing magazine articles under contract and deadlines, with help from reviewers and editors, is a little easier for me.

A bigger problem is that I seem to have trouble getting traction if I’m not writing in response to something specific. If I’m merely musing or journaling, I have a lot less motivation than if I’m answering a question.

Johanna Rothman suggested to me at one point that Myers-Briggs Es (the extraverts) sometimes have a hard time with writing things that they’ve already said. Once it’s out, it’s out, and our temperaments incline us not to repeat ourselves. Or perhaps, more accurately, we Es don’t like talking without a live audience with whom we can engage, where the Is (introverts) can live and even thrive without that form of feedback. In the mailing lists, people ask plenty of questions that engage me, and I’m energized to answer them. So another way I might address this issue is that I might take questions that I’ve been answering in the comp.software.testing mailing list, or in Agile Testing, and either link to them or reproduce the salient points here.

James Bach had the most interesting approach to solving this problem, so I’m extending the same invitation as he did: please ask me a question via email, and I’ll answer it in a blog entry. (I’m happy to answer questions even if you’d like to remain anonymous.) That allows us to have a conversation, instead of me feeling like I’m merely spouting–and maybe we can solve some problems together along the way.

FDSFSCURA?!

Thursday, February 15th, 2007

One thing that Michael Hunter pointed out to me after the Rapid Software Testing course, which I hereby rectify: he claimed that he couldn’t find FDSFSCURA anywhere on the Net. What is FDSFSCURA and why should you care?

FDSFSCURA is the mnemonic for the nine test techniques that we identify in the course. It comes from James Bach’s Heuristic Test Strategy Model. It stands for

Function Testing
Domain Testing
Stress Testing
Flow Testing
Scenario Testing
Claims Testing
User Testing
Risk-based Testing
Automatic Testing

You can read a lot more about the Heuristic Test Strategy Model and its some of its applications in various places–predominantly on James’ Web site and in my articles for Better Software.

Oh–and the mnemonic? It’s pronounced FEDs-fa-Skew-ra. It was the cry of the Roman soldiers as they stormed across the field of battle. It’s Latin for “my sandals hurt.” (Here’s a heuristic: the dumber the mnemonic, the more memorable it is.)

The Braidy Tester Takes RST

Friday, February 9th, 2007

I first noticed Michael Hunter‘s blog a couple of years back. Michael’s blog was the most thoughtful and valuable work I had seen on testing coming from Microsoft, and it has only got better since then.

I found out that Michael would be at SD West 2005. I wasn’t able to attend the conference–I was teaching in Sunnyvale that week. However, a a large number of my pals–colleagues involved with the AYE Conference, the SHAPE Forum, and other projects initiated by Jerry Weinberg–were in town for the conference. We had arranged to meet for dinner, and I thought that Michael would be a good fit, so I invited him. After that, we kept an active correspondence, and met again at STAR East 2006, where Michael shared Best Paper honours with Vipul Kocher, another friend. At the conference, I ran Michael through a couple of the exercises from the Rapid Software Testing course.

I was honoured to have Michael attend the recent public session of Rapid Software Testing in Toronto (January 9-11, 2007), and I was even more honoured by his comments on the course.

An Emerging Testing Community in Bengalooru

Monday, February 5th, 2007
I was back in Bengalooru (formerly Bangalore) during the week of January 30-February 3, 2007. I was doing training for a corporate client. Outside of the training (which I enjoyed and the students did too, I believe) one really positive thing happened while I was there: Pradeep Soundararajan helped me to organize a meeting of some of the people in Bengalooru who are interested in establishing a community of skilled testers. NDS graciously hosted the evening. I hadn’t had a whole lot of time to prepare–I essentially scribbled down a few talking points just before I started. I spoke for about half an hour on some ideas about how to create the community–meetings every month or so, including one or more of the following: one- to two-hour presentations; panel discussions; lighting talks; free-form, problem-solving sessions, based on questions from the community and spontaneous you-join-the-panel answers. There are plenty of models for creating interesting events; the idea is just to do it. I’m confident that Pradeep and some of the people that I met that evening–and others that I’ve met on previous trips to India–can make this happen. Pradeep is co-ordinating the effort; you can contact him at pradeep@satisfice.com.

A testing community like this has lots of potential benefits for its members. Presentations and networking foster opportunities for skills exchange, both within the community and from outside guest speakers. Testers get a chance to share problems and solutions, and to recognize that they’re not alone in dealing with some of the challenges of testing. Independent consultants have a place to network and market their services; those seeking advice have a place to find it. Organizations seeking skilled, motivated testers have an opportunity to find them; testers looking for work have a venue to find it. Companies can contribute to the wider testing community through sponsorship. Those testers who wish to develop their speaking and presentation skills for larger conferences have a venue to do it with a safe and supportive audience. Disagreements and consensus on the merits of various approaches in various contexts can be discussed and debated. Members of the community can establish peer conferences based on the LAWST model–the list goes on and on.

The idea isn’t restricted to Bengalooru, either. I suggest to testers all over India and all over the world, if you don’t have a local testing community, start one. It doesn’t have to be big or formal. Start in a local pub or restaurant, or in a conference room at some generous company like NDS. Call a few colleagues, and ask them each to bring along two people, ideally from other companies, who might be interested and who are unlikely to have met you. Spread the word by having those people invite two more each, and repeat the cycle. Identify people who are willing to help organize meetings; keep membership lists; produce newsletters, Web sites, or Wikis; obtain sponsorship in the form of space, resources, or cash; and give presentations to the group. The real trick to getting started and keeping it up is Just Do It.

If you’d like help, I’m happy to provide it; drop me a line at mb@developsense.com.