Today it was weekend testing time again, and things got pretty crowded with a pleiad of international testers: facilitators Anna Baik and Markus Gärtner, !ndra from Hyderabad, Shiva Shankari, Krishnaveni K, Nagashree Manjunath, Jeroen Rosink, Ajay Balamurugadas, Jassi and myself.
The target today was Virtual Magnifying Glass, an open source screen magnifier for Windows, Linux, FreeBSD and Mac OS X.
The mission was basically: “Test this!”. Although a mission like that is way too vague to start from, it *is* a mission that we all encounter once in a while. It is our job to ask questions to make sure we understand what is needed. So I wondered… do they just need bugs? Or an advice? Or information about how the application works? Ajay also went in questioning mode: “Test : create test ideas, hunt for bugs, compare with a different product, learn the product, so many things? What exactly is required?”. So with a little help of Ajay, the mission was rephrased to “Find quality related valuable information about the product”.
So far so good. I wanted to try pair testing over skype and Ajay was willing to team up with me. We set up a call and were soon discussing in person which approach to take. Although we encountered connection problems later on, it was a good experience that bears repeating.
- It’s easy to feel frustrated because time is too short. After a round of introductions, some explanation and a discussion about the mission, there’s less than 30 minutes left to explore the software. Even for seasoned Rapid Testers this would be an uncomfortably short timebox. Avoid frustration by setting realistic goals for yourself.
- When pairing, you’re not starting testing right away. There’s some discussion first, some setting up needs to be done too. Pairing is probably more beneficial when there is more time to test, so there’s plenty of time to talk things through. Now I felt a bit rushed because the clock was ticking.
- Read-me files are a good place to start when exploring an unknown piece of software. In this case, they provided me with a good model of the software, a good basis to start exploring from.
- Logging bugs takes time. Time not being spent testing. An issue also addressed in the “Why is testing taking so long (part1)(part2)” blogposts by Michael Bolton.
Some nice, thought-worthy quotes were dropped during the debriefing too:
- “Clearing traps is a skill. Recognizing traps is a bigger skill”
Ajay Balamuragadas (c) 2010
- “Minds are shaped when guided under pressure in a certain direction trying to maintain vision and control”
Jeroen Rosink (c) 2010
- “Watch out where the huskies go, and don’t you eat that yellow snow”
Frank Zappa (c) 1974
Well… I guess all that snow is finally getting to me. Frank never made it to this European Weekend Testing session. He wasn’t much of a tester either. But he sure knew how to play that guitar. And I think he would have been a great explorer, having fun all the way.