Friday, October 31, 2008

Exploratory Testing - the state of the art, Evening Talk

I am delivering a talk on "Exploratory Testing - The State of the art" at STeP-IN forum. This talk is happening at Intuit Campus at Bangalore on Nov 6th.

Find the announcement for this evening talk here.

I plan to cover mainly the advancements, tools, trends in last few years in the field of ET and shed light on controversies and myths associated with exploratory testing. There would discussions on SBTM, ET cheat sheets (Elizabeth Hendrikson), thoughts of Jonathan Kohl (analogy to music), Cem Kaner's thoughts on "ET after 23 years", Works of James Lindsay among others.

Here is a most popular myth... (can you beat this?)

"Exploratory testing is a technique"

Any suggestions, ideas are welcome...

See you there !!!

In the mean time, here are few posts that you can read about exploratory testing ...

Exploratory Testing Shock

18 Myths associated with ET
ET challenged


Saturday, October 18, 2008

Questioning Software - Bizzare?

Rex Black does not like James Bach’s definition of testing “Questioning a product in order to evaluate it”. I am not sure why. During test2008 conference, this issue was brought up during a discussion. Rex said (paraphrase) “Questioning a lifeless thing like software is bizarre. I cannot question my dog”. I attempted to catch-up with him later next day to see if I can know more about his views.  When I managed to get his few minutes, he took me to a pillar (painted with red) and  pointing his finger to the pillar, said “Are you red”? He continued  “I am asking the pillar. Am I getting an answer? “Questioning software is ridiculous and bizarre”.  I thought I would get a chance to react to what he said. Rex being a busy man and did not have time for “bizarre/meaningless” debates, excused himself and went away.

Is questioning software really bizarre? I don’t think so. When Rex walked up to that red pillar and asked “Are you red” – what was he doing? – questioning the pillar. Right? He did question the pillar. Through his eyes, he could figure out that it was a red pillar. What is the problem then? May be, he was referring to the inability of the “lifeless” pillar not to answer him back in some human language that he could understand. Well, that was answering part- not the questioning part.  Let us apply this to software, everything that we do as a part of testing can be thought of as a question that we ask (not necessarily in the same way as humans communicate) and  Software does answer (unlike the pillar) in a subtle way. Thinking about testing a questioning process is a strong and powerful way to organize the thought process about testing. As testers we must develop skills to question, skills to interpret the answers, skills to improvise questioning and skills to analyze the subtle answers given by the software.

What do you say Mr. Black?

[Update] More on questioning, meanings and various interpretations of "questioning" software by Michael Bolton is here.