It’s great to see thatJoel Montvelisky and the team at Practitest are running The State of Testing survey again this year. Last year they had over 640 people answering, and this year their target is to go over the 1,000 mark, to get an even better picture about what is going on in the Testing World.
Survey’s like this are really important to our community, as they give a view on where we are, our challenges and successes, and a great starting point for more discussion and potential improvement.
This is the third part of my review of EuroSTAR 2014. You can also read about day 1 and day 2 in the previous posts.
After a late night at the Gala party (well I had just presented at EuroSTAR so I reckon a celebration was in order) then I’m ashamed to say I missed the first keynote of the day. From what I hear it was good
My next session was ‘Stylish Mobile Testing’ with Dan Ashby and Nehir Yelkovan. I know both Dan and Nehir well – myself and Dan do the Testing In the Pub podcast together and I work with Nehir. So missing their presentation was not an option. I’d have gone along even if I hadn’t known them, the topic of the session being around mobile testing. It was a good session; they passed on lots of useful hints and tips on mobile testing and got a great double act going on.
Following the keynote, and the announcement of the EuroSTAR 2015 chair and venue (congratulations to Ruud Teunissen and let’s hope we meet in Maastricht) then then there was a decision to make. Workshop or do-over session?
I chose the do-over session, an excellent idea from the conference organisers, whereby the attendees get to vote on what session they would like to see again. This year it was won by Declan O’Riordan. Declan has had a great year, after doing his first talk at SIGIST, straight after me in fact) then he’s spoken at a number of events and also won the best paper award at EuroSTAR this year. His talk about the ‘Why, Why, Who, How of Security Testing’ was in parts exciting, parts scary and really informative. A great final session.
This year’s EuroSTAR was a great event. It’s well run by a really passionate group, both the organising committee and the conference organisers themselves. The mix of speakers and topics meant that there was real variety and something different from last year. Congratulations to all who spoke, all who organised, and all who contributed in some way. I really hope I can make it back next year.
I didn’t know what to expect from this year’s EuroSTAR conference. I’d only been once before, and so I wasn’t sure how much a different programme chair and committee, and a new venue itself would make a difference to the EuroSTAR experience. In addition I had the added pressure of being lucky enough to speak at the conference as well.
Fortunately none of the changes made a difference. It was a great conference, with some excellent speakers, fun things to do when the talks weren’t happening, and lots of opportunity to meet old friends and make new one’s. Paul Gerrard, the programme committee and the EuroSTAR conference organisers did a great job booking a varied programme and a well organised event.
I arrived in Dublin on Sunday which meant that I was able to make it along to the early registration. This is a great idea which I hope happens next year, as well as being able to pick-up all the usual conference materials, T-shirt, etc early to save queuing, it also meant that those of us who had arrived early could easily get out and meet people. I had a great discussion with a couple of guys from Ericsson which brought back memories of my earlier career there. I was then lucky enough to bump into a number of people I knew as well. Dinner with Declan O’Riordan and Karen Johnson then followed, at which we had some excellent discussions about testing, contracting and life in general.
I spent Monday sightseeing. As an ex Nokian it was great to see this
Day 1 started with the keynote from Andy Stanford-Clark. I really enjoyed it and it certainly made me think more about the Internet of Things, and the challenge it causes for testers. And also how I could automate my house
I followed this up with Amy Phillips talk about Testing In the World of Start-ups. I’ve recently started working with a team who are effectively in start-up mode and it was very useful to hear Amy’s experiences from Songkick. The main thing I took away was that the testers role within a start-up is very different to a larger company, with a more varied skill-set required and potentially less actual testing. I feel this is the way that testing is going these days anyway, slowly but surely.
My next session was from Rikard Edgren who presented about Trying To Teach Testing Skills and Judgement. It was an excellent talk, dealing with Rikard’s experience of training testers. He’s also produced a white paper with a lot more detail, that I’m going to read.
The final keynote of the day was from Rob Lambert. Rob talked about Continuous Delivery and DevOps and gave us his experiences from New Voice Media. It was a good talk and built upon previous talks I’ve seen Rob do, giving more detail.
Here’s my notes from the session.
Then it was time to learn how to pour some Guinness
Later this week it’s the London Tester Gathering Workshops. I attended this event last year and it was great. There was a brilliant variety of workshops, and a lot of great testers to talk to. Very recommended.
This year I am giving a workshop on Mobile Software Testing. It’s on Thursday 16th Oct and I have four hours in which to give an intro to mobile, and give the attendees the opportunity to try out some common mobile tools.
The workshop will focus on giving you a basic overview of mobile testing but then will focus on you discovering how to test mobile websites and applications using the tools below. It’s not a lecture and I won’t give you all the answers, but I hope we’ll have some fun along the way as we discover more about mobile testing.
What You Should Bring
If you are coming along then it’d be great if you brought with you:
A laptop with:
The latest stable build of Chrome on it.
The Genymotion Android emulator.
At least one device image (I’d suggest the Samsung Galaxy S5).
As many mobile devices as you have.
If you haven’t got the Genymotion emulator then I will bring along a standalone version that can be installed for Mac or PC from a USB stick. But if you have already downloaded it then that would make things much smoother and you’ll have more time to use it.
There will also be a bit of a competition at the end so have a think about what application or website you might like to test. You’ll be able to choose anything you want
This year I’m running one of the workshops. It will be about Testing Mobile Software, and promises to be a lot of fun (I hope).
Want to take part in a hands-on workshop and get an overview of mobile testing? Stephen Janaway will explain some of the common mistakes that are made when starting to test mobile, and will give you the opportunity to put into practice what you learn straight away.
We are increasingly moving towards mobile devices to fulfil our day-to-day computing needs. More smartphones are sold than PCs but many people are unclear on what changes to test strategies are needed when working with mobile.
We’ll spend a majority of the session testing a mobile application across a variety of platforms, and reporting the results in real time to the rest of the group. All you need to bring along is an open mind and as many mobile devices as you can get your hands-on.
Tickets are currently a bargainous £250+VAT until 19th September, and for that you get two full days of workshops, covering everything from mobile to automation, exploratory testing to creative thinking. Well worth it.
Recently I’ve been reading Elisabeth Hendrickson’s excellent book ‘Explore It!’. For anyone who has an interest in exploratory testing it’s a must own. I wish I’d discovered it earlier to be honest, since it gives so many useful hints and tips, as well as confirming that the ways of working that one has chosen are also recommended and used by others.
As well as using it for my own learning, I’ve been slowly going through the book and working out what parts I can use in the regular lunch and learn sessions that I run at work. While we practice exploratory testing, in fact it’s the cornerstone of our sapient testing strategy, there are some areas where I feel we could take approaches that could benefit not only testing, but also the wider business.
Working With Legacy Systems
We frequently work with legacy systems and so one chapter that was of immediate interest to me in Elisabeth’s book concerned exploring an existing system. When one has an existing system to test I find it’s all too easy to become primed by what others have already discovered, and to fall back on existing test cases (whether physically written down or in someone’s head). This can bias you, resulting in less effective testing.
Elisabeth makes the point that an existing system may well be unknown to the tester, but also may well be unknown to the whole team, or at least contain parts that are unknown. While the software fulfils a business need, how it actually goes about doing so may be less clear. That makes it ideal for exploration.
James and Jon Bach like to call the initial exploration of an existing system ‘recon testing’. I like this term, by taking an initial session to explore and discover the basics of the software under test then one can then plan more effectively for future sessions, and write future charters in order to drive those plans (if you want to know more about the concept of session based testing and how charters fit in with this then have a look at James Bach’s explaination). Recon sessions help to map the territory and give insight.
During a recon session you can learn a lot, but the most important areas to ensure that you have gained insight into are:
The ecosystem in which the software under test resides.
Touchpoints to other systems.
Variables (things we change or can change).
Obvious vulnerabilities and potential risks.
Our Training Session
During our training session we carried out recon testing on the Staples ‘Easy’ button, and a standard service bell. This no doubt annoyed those in the room next door
By starting training with something simple, and not software based then it’s easier to pick up and learn the basics of a new technique without bias or the complication of software. We then compared our experiences, testing, (and the charters produced), with those that the Bach brothers produced when they carried out an exploratory testing exercise using the same product. Fortunately for us, their session is available on youtube, so it was an excellent addition to our de-brief. In it they explain the different testing techniques they use, and why. It’s well worth watching.
Enough Recon Testing?
One area to focus upon when conducting recon testing is whether one has conducted enough recon testing. Fortunately ‘Explore It!’ has this covered, recommending you ask yourself questions about the system that you have been exploring. If you don’t understand what the system does, how input and output works or how the environmental configuration affects the system for example, then it’s probably time to think about more recon before you move into more focused test sessions. Fortunately for the ‘Easy’ button and bell testers, (and those sitting near the meeting room where we had the lunch and learn), then this was not necessary
A Useful Addition
Recon testing is something that I think we’ll find is a really useful addition to our strategy. I’d certainly recommend that you check it out, and that you check out ‘Explore It!’ which contains much more useful information and techniques to use in your exploratory testing. I’ll certainly be using the book to inspire some future training sessions for the team.
I work with groups of people who break the illusions that people have about software. I'm intrigued by software testing, test strategies and techniques, and organising everything using Scrum and Kanban. I have also been known to talk about mobile devices and mobile testing a lot.