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Confusion as an Oracle

A couple of weeks back, Sylvia Killinen (@skillinen on Twitter) tweeted: “Seems to me that much of #testing relies on noticing when one is confused rather than accepting it as Something Computer Programs Do.” That’s a beautiful observation, near and dear to my heart since 2007 at least. The night I read Sylvia’s tweet, I wanted to blog more on the subject, but sometimes blog posts go in a different … Read more

Testing: Difficult or Time-Consuming?

In my recent blog post, Testing Problems Are Test Results, I noted a question that we might ask about people’s perceptions of testing itself: Does someone perceive testing to be difficult or time-consuming? Who? What’s the basis for that perception? What assumptions underlie it? The answer to that question may provide important clues to the way people think about testing, which in turn influences the cost and value of testing. … Read more

At Least Three Good Reasons for Testers to Learn to Program

There is a common claim, especially in the Agile community, that suggests that all testers should be able to write programs. I don’t think that’s the case. In the Rapid Software Testing class, James Bach and I say that testing is “questioning a product in order to evaluate it”. That’s the short form of my personal definition of testing, “investigation of people, software, computers, and related goods and services, and … Read more

The Best Tour

Cem Kaner recently wrote a reply to my blog post Of Testing Tours and Dashboards. One way to address the best practice issue is to go back to the metaphor and ask “What would be the best tour of London?” That question should give rise to plenty of other questions. Are you touring for your own purposes, or in support of someone else’s interests? To what degree are other people … Read more

Common Languages Ain’t So Common

A friend told me about a payment system he worked on once. In the system models (and in the source code), the person sending notification of a pending payment was the payer. The person who got that notice was called the payee. That person could designate somone else—the recipient—to pick up the money. The transfer agent would credit the account of the recipient, and debit the account of the person … Read more

Exploratory Testing is All Around You

I regularly converse with people who say they want to introduce exploratory testing in their organization. They say that up until now, they’ve only used a scripted approach. I reply that exploratory testing is already going on all the time at your organization.  It’s just that no one notices, perhaps because they call it “review”, or “designing scripts”, or “getting ready to test”, or “investigating a bug”, or “working around … Read more

Why Do Some Testers Find The Critical Problems?

Today, someone on Twitter pointed to an interesting blog post by Alan Page of Microsoft. He says: “How do testers determine if a bug is a bug anyone would care about vs. a bug that directly impacts quality (or the customers perception of quality)? (or something in between?) Of course, testers should report anything that may annoy a user, but learning to differentiate between an ‘it could be better’ bug … Read more

Context-Free Questions for Testing

In Jerry Weinberg and Don Gause’s Exploring Requirements, there’s a set of context-free questions to ask about a product or service. The authors call them context-free questions, but to me, many of them are more like context-revealing questions. In the Rapid Software Testing class, the participants and the instructors make discoveries courtesy of our exercises and conversations. Here’s a list of questions that come up fairly consistently, or that we … Read more

Statistician or Journalist?

Eric Jacobson has a problem, which he thoughtfully relates on his thoughtful blog in a post called “How Can I Tell Users What Testers Did?”. In this post, I’ll try to answer his question, so you might want to read his original post for context. I see something interesting here: Eric tells a clear story to relate to his readers some problem that he’s having with explaining his work to … Read more

How Can A Trainee Improve His (Her) Skills

A blogger on TestRepublic asks “How can a trainee improve his/her skill sets in testing?” This is what I do. I recommend it to all trainees (or “freshers”, as they say in India). Find something that interests you, or something that would be useful to you or to a client, or something that you must do, or a problem that you need to solve, or something that you think might … Read more