Testers Aren’t Psychic: Six Ways Developers Can Be More Transparent With Testers

Dear Developers:resized_business-cat-meme-generator-i-m-good-but-i-m-not-psychic-d50a02

Testers aren’t mind readers.  We’re not psychic or telepathic, either.  Please write your test cases and review our bug reports accordingly.

With Love,
Your QA Testers

Many testers dislike seeing the dreaded “Working as Designed” rejection reason on our bug reports because, in many cases, we had no idea it was designed to work that way.  To us, it just seemed like something wasn’t quite right, and it’s our job to tell you these things.

In fact, if a tester who has the perspective of a new user (someone who has no prior experience with what they’re testing and sees the environment in a way a brand-new user would) writes up a bug report on a feature that seems to be broken or working poorly, there’s a good chance new users will also think the same thing. Perhaps you should review the design and user experience to see if there’s a flaw there.

After all, quality assurance is not just about telling developers when a page errors or when a link is broken. It’s also about telling you when your software does not work in such a way that a user will find it to be a useful, quality, worthwhile experience.

It might seem like a pain in the butt, but we’re really just trying to do our jobs and help make your project a complete success.  Really! We’re on the same team, I promise.

When you ask us to test something for you, try and do the following things. They will help us help you and, in turn, your projects:

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Using Software Testing Metrics in an Agile Environment

Note: The following is a guest submission to the uTest Blog from Sanjay Zalavadia.software-testing-company-1234

Agile QA teams should use specialized software testing metrics to make sure they’re on the right track.

Software testing metrics are a vital component of the quality assurance process, providing team leaders with the data needed to make informed decisions. Agile teams require their own set of specialized metrics to better track progress and ensure that they are getting the most value out of the testing methodology. One of the largest issues that organizations run into when leveraging agile is botching the implementation, typically by misusing a tactic or strategy. With the right testing metrics, QA teams making their first foray into agile can gain the oversight needed to deploy the practice in an effective manner.

Writing for Agile Atlas, veteran software engineer and lean development expert David Koontz offered several metrics that could benefit agile teams. Many of these measurements centered around sprints, giving QA leaders insight into the effectiveness of these testing processes.

For instance, test teams can use software testing metrics to track both the projected capacity and capability of upcoming sprints. Such insight will help businesses address one of the most common problems associated with agile methods: sprint mismanagement. Teams that are still getting acquainted with agile may wind up underestimating how long forthcoming sprints will last, resulting in longer-than-anticipated production schedules. By gathering data and laying out an accurate timeframe for test sprints, QA leaders can avoid running into costly release delays.

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Testers Are Spending a Whole Lot of Time…Not Testing

Before you get completely riled up by that statement and wasting_time_by_lawlieta-d3dc84ythink we’re calling testers slackers…we’re not! In fact, testers are quite up in arms about this un-productivity.

Based on a recent joint study by uTest, IBM and TechWell, testers are certainly spending a whole lot of time on non-testing-related activities, and testing activities that they simply feel are just a big, plain ol’ waste of time.

The study, conducted in April 2014 by TechWell, was made up of 250 software testing pros from six continents, and found that:

  • 36% of testers surveyed spend over half of their week not testing
  • 58% cite ad hoc requests as the biggest disruptor of their work weeks
  • In regard to activities where testers spend more time than they’d like, almost 60% responded with waiting for test assets, while over 50% responded with ‘non-testing’ activities
  • Some of the top activities testers wished they’d spend more time in include: creating and executing automated tests, performing exploratory testing, and designing and planning tests
  • Testers want greater organizational improvements, including increasing automation, in order to free up their time to focus on testing and improving quality

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Focus on Automated Testing, Discount for uTesters at UCAAT

Automation is a sector of software testing that has experienced explosive growth and enterprise investment in recent years. The knowledge necessary to learn about and specialize in automated testing is found at industry events like the upcoming 2nd annual User Conference on Advanced Automated Testing (UCAAT) in Munich, Germany from September 16-18, 2014. ucaat

The European conference, jointly organized by the “Methods for Testing and Specification” (TC MTS) ETSI Technical Committee, QualityMinds, and German Testing Day, will focus exclusively on use cases and best practices for software and embedded testing automation.

The 2014 program will cover topics like agile test automation, model-based tests, test languages and methodologies, as well as web of service and use of test automation in various industries like automotive, medical technology, and security, to name a few. Noted participants in the opening session include Dr. Andrej Pietschker (Giesecke & Devrient), Professor Ina Schieferdecker (Free University of Berlin), Markus Becher (BMW), Dr. Heiko Englert (Siemens), and Dr. Alexander Pretschner (Technical University of Munich).

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Are There Enough ‘Intellectual’ Software Testers?

imagesJames Bach is no stranger to tackling heated topics, and in general, being one of the most influential disruptors in the in the testing industry.

So it comes as no surprise that in a recent blog, James provided some fodder for a great discussion in the uTest Forums, arguing that there aren’t enough intellectual testers in the field — that is, testers that are willing to challenge themselves or the status quo:

“The state of the practice in testing is for testers NOT to read about their craft, NOT to study social science or know anything about the proper use of statistics or the meaning of the word ‘heuristic,’ and NOT to challenge the now 40 year stale ideas about making testing into factory work that lead directly to mass outsourcing of testing to lowest bidder instead of the most able tester.”

While there was a fair amount of pushback to this, a surprising amount of uTesters tended to agree, including one tester that even went so far as to call it a “pet peeve” of his. However, while agreeing with Bach’s assessment, these same testers argued that it isn’t necessarily their fault — it’s a product of their environment:

“To conclude, I believe that the issue lies with how projects are managed. If no time is left for more robust testing, then it almost doesn’t matter how intellectual or technically savvy a tester is if all he/she is going to have time to do is create and execute tests against specifications. In other words, intellectual testers don’t have much opportunity for more intellectual testing. A strong tester would not be able to showcase those skills in this environment.

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Stay Flexible: Top 3 Agile Development Best Practices

Note: The following is a guest submission to the uTest Blog from Sanjay Zalavadia.agile

Despite the general consensus among software developers that agile methods offer the best approach to quality assurance, many organizations continue to struggle with their implementation. Because agile practices differ so much from traditional waterfall processes, it’s understandable that some teams may run into obstacles during the transition. By keeping these top agile best practices in mind, struggling QA teams can get on the right track and begin to appreciate the benefits of the methodology.

  1. Be agile - This sounds like a no-brainer, but many programmers and testers lose sight of what it means to be agile. With all the different processes and tasks that agile teams carry out, individuals and organizations as a whole can get bogged down in the details. As IT service provider A.J. Boggs explained, it’s important to stay true to the spirit of the approach and not the nuts and bolts of the methodology. For instance, if a team is finding that its daily Scrums are difficult to coordinate and are not providing much of any value, maybe QA leaders should consider dropping them. Be agile, but don’t be beholden to the process.

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Q&A: Context-Driven Testing Champions Talk Trends, Preview Let’s Test Oz

Henrik Andersson and David Greenlees are two well-known contributors to the context-driven testing community and together co-founded the Let’s Test conferences, which celebrate the context-driven school of thought. Let’s Test Oz is slated for September 15-17 just outside Sydney, Australia, and uTest has secured an exclusive 10% discount off new registrations. Be sure to email testers@utest.com for this special discount code if you plan on attending.

In this interview, we talk with Henrik and David on trends in the context-driven community, and get a sense of what testers can expect at Let’s Test Oz.

19c4175HenrikAndersson

uTest: Like James Bach, you’re both members of the ‘context-driven’ testing community. What drove each of you to context-driven testing?

HA: Actually, James did. I had close to no awareness of the context-driven testing (CDT) community before I hosted James’ RST class in Sweden in spring of 2007. During my discussions with James, I found that we shared lots of fundamental views on testing, and he insisted that I should meet more people in the CDT community.

James told me about the CAST conference that took place in the States, and that just before this, there would be a small peer conference called WHET 4 that his brother Jon hosted. A few days later, I got an invitation from Jon Bach to attend. At this workshop, where we spent a weekend discussion on Boundary Testing, I met testers like Cem Kaner, Ross Collard, Scott Barber, Rob Sabourin, Michael Bolton, Dough Hoffman, Keith Stobie, Tim Coulter, Dawn Haynes, Paul Holland, Karen Johnson, Sam Kalman, David Gilbert, Mike Kelly, and, of course, Jon and James Bach. From then on I was hooked!

DG: Difficult question to answer without writing a novel! I wrote about my testing journey some time back, however, that doesn’t really touch on my drivers toward the CDT community. If I was to pinpoint one thing, it would be the book Lessons Learned in Software Testing (Bach, Kaner, Pettichord). This was my first introduction to the community and to what I believe is a better way to test…in fact…the only way to test.

What keeps me here is the fantastic people I come across each and every day. We challenge each other, we’re passionate, and we’re not afraid to put our opinions out there for the world to hear and critique. This all adds to the betterment of our craft, which is our ultimate goal. I’m a firm believer that there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to testing, and when you add that to my natural tendency to explore rather than confirm, I find that the CDT community is a great fit for me.

uTest: And speaking of James Bach, he’s one of the keynote speakers at Let’s Test Oz in the Fall. Can you tell us a little bit about the idea behind the show, and why you felt it was time for context-driven conferences in Europe and Australia?

HA: Let’s Test is all about building, growing and strengthening the CDT community. We have successfully arranged Let’s Test three years in a row in Europe, but the attendees are coming from all over the world. The idea behind Let’s Test is to create a meeting place for testers to learn, share experiences, grow, meet other testers, do some real testing, and, of course, to have a whole lot of fun.

When David Greenlees and Ann-Marie Charrett told me about what they were looking to achieve, I immediately felt that it was in line with Let’s Test, and believe Let’s Test can be a great vehicle to grow the CDT community in Australia.

Last year, we did a one-day tasting of Let’s Test in Sydney, and this year, we did one in the Netherlands. In November, we will be hosting one in Johannesburg, South Africa. The purpose of the small tastings of Let’s Test is for testers to get a glance at the Let’s Test experience, at a really low cost. If you cant come to the real Let’s Test, this is a great alternative to check out what it is all about.

DG: From the Australian point of view, it’s fair to say that the CDT community is very small. We refer to the area as ‘Downunder’ — this is our way of saying Australia and New Zealand. I felt it was time to change that, and one way to help the CDT community thrive is to hold a CDT conference.

For quite a few years now, I’ve felt that Downunder needed a different style of software testing conference, one where conferring is the ultimate goal, and so I emailed Henrik, and he was extremely positive and encouraging…so here we are.

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Four Reasons Pessimists Don’t Make the Best Testers

Is the glass half empty or half full? Depending on how you answer that question, you may be a pessimist (Although in Boston, it’s just called realism…tsome-people-call-me-a-realist-some-call-me-a-pessimist_o_720627he Red Sox are 39-50 and aren’t going anywhere!).

When it comes to testing, it’s easy to paint pessimism as something that should come naturally to a tester. After all, isn’t it a tester’s job to find things wrong in an application, foresee problems, and break stuff…bringing out the worst in an app? One would think so, but our testers debated this topic heavily in the uTest Forums, and came up with several ideas resoundingly against the notion of the “pessimistic tester.”

Pessimism is toxic on testing teams

“Pessimists tend to see the worst. If someone sees the worst in everything, especially in what they do, who would want that on a team?” – Marek L., uTester

And this doesn’t just go for testing: Who wants to work with a Debbie Downer? Sure, there may have been a devastating hurricane that took 100 lives in another country, but if you’re reminded of it every time the sun is shining, it could make for a long eternity on your testing team.

Pessimism takes away the tester work ethic

“Any tester, even the eternal optimist, should know that no software product is bug-free. And since pessimists are…well…pessimistic, they’ll probably also be pessimistic about being able to find bugs, too.” – Lucas S., uTester

It may not be the only task of a tester, but it’s arguably the most important: Testers are hired to find bugs. If testers out of the gate have a pessimistic point of view, it could hinder their ability to think clearly and do the major task they were hired to do. And that’s a problem in a world of software that’s hardly close to being perfect.

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Schools of Testing the Subject of Latest Testing in the Pub Podcast

School may be out for many kids this summer, but the schools of testing never close, and are the subject of testers Steve Janaway and Testing in the PubDan Ashby’s latest Testing in the Pub podcast.

In a recent interview with uTest, Steve touched upon a rift that has grown in the testing community because of the various paths a tester can take to master skillsets:

As a side point, I think the other top challenge currently is the split that we have within the testing community, between those who view certification as the only way forward, and those who favor a more context-driven approach.

Be sure to hear all of Steve and Dan’s discussion on the various schools of thought in the testing community. Check out Episode Seven of Testing in the Pub which is available now.

Part II of Testing in the Pub Podcast on Continuous Delivery

Testing in the PubThe latest Testing in the Pub podcast is now live, continuing last week’s discussion on continuous delivery and how it fits into the testing mix.

Guest tester Amy Phillips leads Part II of this discussion with regular hosts Dan and Stephen. If you haven’t checked out the first part yet, be sure to before taking this one out for a pint. You can also subscribe to the podcast from iTunes so you’ll never miss an episode.