Why it’s important that it’s safe to fail

When my daughter started to learn how to walk, we immediately started buying corner protectors and had multiple scans of our apartment to see if there were any dangers lurking that we had to remove or cover up. We wanted to make it safe for her (to fail).

When it comes to software development, I think it’s also important to make it safe for people to fail.

People make mistakes.

It happens to everyone – and in my opinion, it’s not a bad thing.

Continue reading “Why it’s important that it’s safe to fail”

Bloggers Club: First day in a team

I’ve had many first days in a team since I started my testing career almost nine years ago. But it’s always been daunting and there’s a lot to take in.

New faces.

New names.

New context.

New project.

I’m often trying to gain my bearings and not necessarily looking to start testing on my very first day. (For getting started on a testing project, read this)

Continue reading “Bloggers Club: First day in a team”

Feedback: Solicited vs Unsolicited

I tend to be wary of giving unsolicited feedback in general, even with the best intentions, it doesn’t always go down well.

Let me give you an example: I used to work with a tester who wrote the bare minimum when it came to bugs. There was hardly ever any information on steps to reproduce, no information on OS version, screenshots sometimes were provided and actual result vs expected result were never there.

Continue reading “Feedback: Solicited vs Unsolicited”

What I wish I knew when I started testing: Get involved with the testing community

In November 2018, I gave a talk at Belgrade Test Conference on ‘What I wish I knew in my first year of testing’.

Here’s the second post on the series with some key areas from that talk. (Here’s the link to the first post on Expectations vs Reality)

This post will focus on more “accessible” ways of being involved in the testing community (i.e. not speaking at conferences or starting testing meetups/events) Continue reading “What I wish I knew when I started testing: Get involved with the testing community”

The Economics of Software Testing: Opportunity Cost

When I was in high school I learned about a very interesting concept called Opportunity Cost in my Economics class. To be honest, it’s probably one of the only things in high school that I still remember. I still remember this very interesting concept because it’s everywhere.

What is opportunity cost?

It’s the value of the next best alternative of a resource. (Source: https://www.econlib.org/library/Enc/OpportunityCost.html)

Continue reading “The Economics of Software Testing: Opportunity Cost”

What I wish I knew when I started testing: Expectations vs Reality

In November 2018, I gave a talk at Belgrade Test Conference on ‘What I wish I knew in my first year of testing’.

Here’s the first post on the series with some key areas from that talk. (For the second part of this series: What I wish I knew when I started testing: Get involved with the testing community))

This post will focus on Expectations vs Reality (Since it was over two years ago since I gave that talk, there’ll be some mismatch between my talk and this post to reflect new things I’ve learned etc).

These expectations reflect the expectations I had when I started my software testing career back in 2012

Expectations vs Reality

Perception of quality

My understanding of what quality was, was similar to perfection – I thought all (known) bugs had to be addressed before you went live. Bugs were something that hurt the quality of the software.
As time passed, my understanding of quality and “good enough” has changed. Now I don’t only focus on bugs, but mainly on the value that can be provided to the stakeholders.
 
 

Agile

When I started my testing career at the Assurity Graduate Program, I heard some amazing things about Agile. I thought ‘This sounds amazing – I’m sure I’ll only end up on Agile projects’ (or maybe a few non-Agile projects).
The funny thing is, I’ve been on a lot of ‘Agile’ projects. I’ve found that some companies believe they have Agile projects just because they are doing a daily stand-up (while there is definitely some value in running daily stand-ups to make sure that everyone is on the same page, I’ve found it can be hard to focus when the daily stand-up can run up to 30-45 minutes long, that in one past project it became a daily lean-on-the-wall/desk then eventually a daily  sit-down).
I can’t help but think that ‘Agile’ is quite the buzzword to throw around to seem cool.
While I have worked on some projects that implement a lot of the fundamentals from the Agile Manifesto, they are, however, outnumbered by the projects I have worked on that only claim to be Agile.


The purpose of testing

Even something as simple as why we test software is something that I haven\’t always agreed on, with people I work with. It never occurred to me that my understanding of the purpose of testing would not be the same as other testers (let alone other people on a project).
To me, it was a given that we would at least have a shared understanding of what testing is supposed to achieve.
But I was wrong.
There are multiple interpretations of the purpose of testing.
My interpretation: We test software to get a clear picture of the state of the software.  I quite like Anne-Marie Charrett’s analogy where testing is the headlight and the road is the software project.
Here are a few purposes of testing I have come across, which I disagree with, along with reasons why:
  • To find all the bugs – you can’t ever KNOW that you have found all the bugs as it’s near impossible (if not impossible) to prove that something does not exist.
  • To ensure high quality software – testing in itself sheds light about the quality/state of the software; it tells you how things are looking, but it’s up to the team to ensure high quality software
  • To improve the quality of the software – similar to the previous point; testing in itself doesn’t improve the quality of the software, but if testing is done well it can give your team a good idea on what needs to be improved.  i.e. Testing –> information/input on what needs to be address –> make changes –> improved quality of the software
For the second part of this series:

My Most Used Test Heuristics (with examples)

First, what is a heuristic?

A heuristic is a guideline,  it is fallible.

Therefore, it will give you a good idea of what behaviour you should see BUT it isn’t definitely what should happen – it\’s up to you to confirm that the behaviour you are seeing is correct.

In a previous blog post I shared a step by step guide on how to test without requirements/little requirements.   But I figured it’s good to share my most used test heuristics that I use for testing without requirements.

They are:

  1. Consistency with History
  2. Consistency with User Expectations
  3. Consistency within Product
Let’s take a look at each of them along with some examples to illustrate the concept.

1. Consistency with History

The feature’s or function’s current behaviour should be consistent with its past behaviour, assuming there is no good reason for it to change. This heuristic is especially useful when testing a new version of an existing program. (Source: developsense)
Example: Whitcoulls, a NZ book store.
Here you will notice that their products are broken up into main categories: Top Picks, Books, Stationery etc.
Then under Books you have Fiction, Children\’s Books, Young Adult, Cookbook etc.
To test against this heuristic, then let\’s say you were to redo/revamp/remake this website, then you would expect the products to be broken up into the same main categories (Top Picks, Books, Stationery..) and the Books to have the same categories (e.g. Fiction, Children\’s Books etc.)

2. Consistency with User Expectations

A feature or function should behave in a way that is consistent with our understanding of what users want as well as their reasonable expectations. (Source: developsense)

Example: Signal, messaging app.

In the first photo:

I expect that the “Search/Sök” functionality searches for both contacts I have as well as messages containing the search string. For example: “And..” would find a contact called Andreas as well as a sentence “I have coffee and tea”

I expect that the pen icon in the top right corner means I can create a message

I expect that the camera icon means I can take photos once I tap it. If I haven’t yet given permission to the app to access my camera or photos, then a pop-up should appear

In the second photo:

I expect tapping on the X on the top left means I exit the camera view

I expect that tapping on the two arrows means it switches to selfie mode

etc

If I were to be part of a project that was building a messaging app and was focussing on the camera functionality, I would ask myself – what do I expect to happen?

I sometimes find Consistency with User expectations can start to blend into  Consistency with Comparable Products when I test. (Consistency with Comparable Products: Using other products as a rough, de facto standard against which our own can be compared. Source: Developsense)

If i was testing against the Consistency with Comparable Products heuristic, I would ask myself: “What do other messaging apps have? How does the camera functionality work on other messaging apps?”

3. Consistency within Product

The behaviour of a given function should be consistent with the behaviour of comparable functions or functional patterns within the same product unless there is a specific reason for it not to be consistent (Source: developsense)

Example: Allrecipes, a recipe browser

To some extent this behaves as I expected as I see the breadcrumb which helps me find where I am on the website, but on the /desserts page it is lower down the page, on the actual recipe page, the breadcrumb is at the very top. See screenshots below

4 Books Which I’ve Found Useful for my Testing

 1. Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

I heard from quite a few people how beneficial this book was for them. About six or seven years ago, I tried to read it, but couldn’t get into it – then I tried again about two years ago and really enjoyed it.

It’s an intense read and focuses a lot on cognitive biases – a lot of which I come across in day-to-day testing. Continue reading “4 Books Which I’ve Found Useful for my Testing”

My learning journey while on maternity leave

Almost nine months ago, I gave birth to our daughter. A few weeks before then, I had started my maternity leave and since then has been the longest time (since I’ve started working) that I’ve been away from the testing world.

I made a conscious choice to step back from testing while on maternity leave and not try to up-skill in that area during what little free-time I did have. Babies like to be constantly entertained it seems; or at least – mine does.

However, I really enjoy learning – learning languages, new skills, about people and broadening my horizon. Therefore, I decided to still have a learning journey on maternity leave, but with some adaptions. Continue reading “My learning journey while on maternity leave”