Oracles from the Inside Out, Part 6: Oracles as Extensions of Testers

The previous post in this series was something of a diversion from the main thread, but we’ll get back on track in this long-ish post. To review: Marshall McLuhan famously said that “the medium is the message”. He used this snappy slogan to point out that media, tools, and technologies are not only about what they contain; they’re also about themselves, changing the scale, pace, or pattern of human affairs … Read more

Oracles from the Inside Out, Part 5: Oracles as References as Media

Try asking testers how they recognize problems. Many will respond that they compare the product to its specification, and when they see an inconsistency between the product and its specification, they report a bug. Others will talk about creating and running automated checks, using tools to compare output from the product to specific, pre-determined, expected results; when the product produces a result inconsistent with expectations, the check identifies a bug … Read more

Oracles from the Inside Out, Part 4: From Experience to Inference

In the previous post, I gave an example of the happy (and, alas, rare) circumstance in which the programmer and I share models and feelings, such that the programmer becomes aware of a problem I’ve found without my being explicit about it. That is, on this table, I can go directly from top-left, where I experience the problem, to conference in the bottom left, where awareness of that problem has … Read more

Oracles From the Inside Out, Part 3: From Experience Directly to Conference

Yesterday I described the moment of recognition of a problem, which tends to happen in the upper-left corner of this table: When I perceive a problem during testing, it’s my job to let people know about what I’ve found, and to arrive at a shared set of feelings and mental models about the problem, represented by the lower left quadrant. That is, I want to move from experience—my private, internal, … Read more

Oracles from the Inside Out, Part 2: Experience, Mental Models, and Feelings

In the first post in this series, I introduced some of the factors in recognizing a problem when one occurs during testing. Let’s walk through some examples of recognizing and relating problems. Imagine that I’m a tester at Adobe, a few years back, testing a version of Acrobat. As it happens, my laptop’s screen is smaller than a desktop monitor, but at 1920 by 960 pixels, the resolution is quite … Read more

Oracles from the Inside Out, Part 1: Introduction

In Rapid Testing (and, we believe, in all worthwhile testing) learning about the product and finding problems that matter are central to the mission. In the role of a tester, I support the business and development team by finding and describing things I believe to be important problems that might threaten the value of the product. A skilled tester should be able do that at any stageā€”as soon as there’s … Read more