A New Women Testers E-magazine Has Arrived!

There is a new testing e-magazine called “Women Testers” that has recently been published. I hope you take some time to check out their first edition by clicking here. I would like to thank Jyothi Rangaiah and her team for pulling together this e-magazine, which is a lot of hard work and dedication to make this happen! I wish them much success with bringing together different viewpoints and approaches on testing through this e-magazine. We can all have an impact on testing through the international Testing Community. Take some time to not only read the articles but determine where you can contribute. Can you write an article or perhaps spend some time reviewing articles. Many hands make the work lighter! If you wish to be involved, contact Jyothi at jyothi@womentesters.com.

I am interested in a Testing Career – can you help me learn more about the field?

career development

Software Testing is one of the least known professions in the tech field. Most likely you have come across people who have performed a “checking” exercise and they equate it with “testing”. That really does dilute our value and it is important to take those teaching moments to let them know they performed a “checking” exercise to make sure that basic functionality did not break; however testing is much more complicated. This might lead to the question of:

  • Do you think I can be a Tester?
  • What does a Tester do?
  • Do you have a job opening in your Testing department?

These are great opportunities to educate people regardless if they become a Tester. We all need to come up with our elevator pitch when asked about the testing field. An elevator pitch is basically a short summary that can be provided in about 30-seconds.

In October and November 2012, I wrote a series for Testing Circus called: Do You Think I Could Be a Tester? Click here for October and here for November.

Here are a few ideas to get started and the above articles provide more details.

  1. What is his experience with Testers and what is his observation on their role? This can be helpful in correcting any misunderstandings as many people think Testers are the “Quality Police”. Another situation is the type of testing he witnessed at another company – for example that company may use test cases whereas another company is using session-based testing. Best to clarify any differences upfront.
  2. What does he enjoy doing? What are his career aspirations? If his goal is to implement company-wide solutions then a testing career might not be for him. But be careful about discouraging someone because a testing career could help him for other opportunities or he might find he really loves the field. A Tester’s skills crosses so many areas such as problem solving, critical thinking, risk analysis and mitigation, report writing, troubleshooting among many others.
  3. Take a personal approach to the conversation. Spend some time discussing why you became a Tester; why you enjoy the field; what do you find challenging about testing; what advice you would give a new Tester. Set a bit of background about the field before discussing how to perform testing. Have a few of the Testers share the same information. Perhaps have a small gathering of Testers meet with him to have this conversation. Make it informal so it does not feel forced and be sure to give the person opportunities to ask questions.
  4. Is he an employee of your company? Perhaps he can spend some time in the Testing department. Just be careful because if he does not understand testing then he might be overwhelmed with both what is testing and the product under test. There is a risk that this could discourage him from a career he might enjoy since he will not be going through the typical training program.
  5. Identify a tool or application he uses to demonstrate how to test a piece of functionality. Such as FaceBook, Twitter or anything that he is familiar with so his focus is on learning the testing piece.  In the November article are a couple of mind maps on bridging the training.

None of these suggestions are fool-proofed and it is important to tailor the approach to the person. Hopefully this will provide a few ideas  to prepare for these conversations. Plus be sure to come up with a Testing elevator pitch to be ready at any time to discuss “what is Testing”.

 

What is your Testing Elevator Pitch?

How do you explain a Tester’s responsibilities to someone who has no idea?

Gathering Testing Artifacts and Journal Notes

CamStudio
Image Courtesy of CamStudio

Recently, I want to learn more about how Testers are gathering their testing artifacts to help them make a decision on whether the code they are testing is ready to go to production. As Testers we know we will never be able to cover all of the potential tests. People outside of testing often have a hard time understanding why full testing coverage can be impossible especially for larger modules / functionality we are testing. This includes the sheer number of tests to perform, understanding the critical risks, what is important to the customer, among other considerations and then balancing all of that with time available for testing. Recording your testing may seem scary or intimidating at first, but it can have a lot of benefits. A recording can be used when working with a Developer on how to reproduce a problem; demonstrating to another Tester what you saw in testing to determine next steps; and providing physical evidence during an audit.

Recording your testing may or may not help defend your sampling strategy but if you add journal notes with your recordings you may be able to show the progression of your testing and why you made certain decisions. This can be important when you need to go back to review why you made certain decisions or review how you tested something. Most of us cannot rely on our memory to remember why we made certain decisions. Therefore, a certain level of documentation is important.

Understanding why and how we document information is important. A great starting point to understand more about how and why Testers collect journal notes is discussed in Michael Bolton’s article: An Exploratory Tester’s Notebook.

Another great article Have You Considered Evidence of Testing?

I have had a lot of informative conversations with Griffin Jones on the importance of gathering testing evidence. Please refer to his session talk at CAST 2013 What is good evidence? You can learn more about Griffin’s consulting business Congruent Compliance by clicking here.

You can find even more information from Software Testing Club where Testers shared their thoughts on recording tools by clicking here.

I gathered, through social medial, what video recording and documentation tools Testers are using to gather their testing artifacts. I would like to thank the following people for responding: Teri Charles, Raji, Gagan Talwar, Mohinder Khosla, Ajay Balamurugadas, Richard Bradshaw, Lisa Crispin, Srinivas Kadiyala, Adam Yuret, and Griffin Jones. As always, we have an awesome Testing Community that is always willing to share information.

Below is a summary of the findings. Some of these tools are open source and others you must purchase but they may have a short trial period. I would suggest identifying what is important to you in a recording tool before you start your evaluation to make a better decision.

Another suggestion by Lisa Crispin for recording and showing bugs: Quicktime. From Srinivas Kadiyala we have a few additional suggestions: SnagIt , qSnap, Paint (PrintScreen). Lalit has let me know that QTrace is now qTestExplorer! Click here to learn more! And thank you Lalit for the correction! From Kobi Halperin we have Defect Scribe that he hopes to explore and share information about.

Keep the suggestions coming and I will update this page.

How are you gathering your Testing Artifacts?

Do you record your testing?

Do you use screen cap tools?

Or do you have another method to provide your Testing Artifacts?

Over a Cup of Tea – My Interview with Tea-Time with Testers

Earl Grey Tea and Scones

As I have mentioned in a previous posting, I have a lot of admiration for Lalitkumar Bhamare and I was honored when he asked me for an interview for his excellent e-magazine. His interview provides some insight into my professional and personal life. So grab a cup of tea and perhaps a hot scone to not only read my interview but to also enjoy the wonderful articles written by Testers from around the world! My preference is loose Earl Grey Supreme by Harney and Sons. Speaking of scones… here is a great recipe for scones!

Click here for my interview.

What is Your Legacy? Part 5

How to reduce the cost of testing
Image courtesy of Amazon.

Throughout the “What is Your Legacy” series, I have mostly focused on the Testers in the trenches and I hope you enjoyed learning more about Testers that you may not be connected. Perhaps you found one or more Testers that you will start following on Twitter or their blogs. I love how the Testing community supports one another and how we share information within the community. Today I would like to talk about the book “How to Reduce The Cost of Software Testing”.

This book was written by many Testers who responded to a couple of questions posted on LinkedIn. It is an amazing book filled with the collective knowledge of more than 20-Testers from around the world sharing their thoughts and experiences on reducing the cost of Software Testing while still identifying the problems and bugs. A brief bio is provided on each of the authors with most of them having active websites. This is another great way to “meet” more Testers within the community.

This book also introduced me to Testers such as Selena Delesie who wrote an important chapter on “The Cost of Quality”. She presents different processes and approaches to reduce costs while improving quality through a fictional company case study. I think most of us are challenged to reduce the cost of testing but retain a high level of quality testing. We need to understand that cost as we make decisions since there are typically many different paths to choose from.

Another Tester I learned about through this book was Catherine Powell who wrote a chapter called “Opportunity Cost of Testing”. I love this chapter because as Testers every decision we make has a cost. We may select one set of tests over another set based upon the requirements and known risks. Testers are always fighting the clock; therefore understanding the opportunity costs of our decisions is fairly important.

This book is packed with valuable information; a great way to get acquainted with a lot of Testers; and the chapters can be read in any order. It does not get much better than that! Hopefully you will have an opportunity to read this wonderful book and apply what you are learning to your own department.

What is Your Legacy? Part 4

I hope you are enjoying this series as much as I am! Today I would like to share what I admire about Lalitkumar Bhamare and Teri Charles.

Lalitkumar Bhamare
I admire Lalit for being a co-founder and Editor of Tea-time With Testers (TTWT). He works endlessly to publish an innovative, quality e-magazine. Think about how much work and time it takes to write one article that is worthy for publication. Now imagine working with authors to write articles, interviews, and other creative ways to keep TTWT fresh and interesting. I would like to share a few initiatives Lalit has been involved. If you go to their home page and scroll down, you will find “Our Story and Testimonials” video, which I was happy to be involved. I hope you take some time to watch it if you are not familiar with TTWT. The concept of the Women in Testing edition published in September 2013 was wonderful to read with so many women sharing their viewpoints on technology. Leah Stockley was the guest editor and she did a wonderful job!

Last year I got an email from Lalit asking if I wanted to participate in the State of Testing 2013 survey that TTWT was partnering with Joel Montvelisky. Joel was looking for information to write a post about the advances in the testing world in the last 5-10 years and he realized that there is no centralized set of information that provides visibility into what is happening and what are the trends in the world of testing today. That is when he turned to Lalit and they decided to turn this into a project. It is an important survey that in the short term you can use it to learn how you compare to other testers and where you might make changes. Over the upcoming years, we will have data to trend to better understand where we are headed as a Testing Community. You can learn more about Lalit at his LinkedIn profile.

Teri Charles
Teri has so much enthusiasm for learning and encouraging others. I “know” Teri through Twitter and I have found she typically is the first person to congratulate or encourage someone. Through her blog Boulder Tester she shares her experiences in developing her testing skills and she is not afraid to get her hands dirty by learning how to write code. On her blog she discusses how coding never came as a natural skill. So what is her approach? Create a plan and then collaborates with a couple of other people to teach an “Introduction to Programming Concepts” course! You really need to read about her journey by going to her blog. Being a former programmer who studied many programming languages at college – I know this is not easy to do on your own. It is typically easier to learn another language once you have studied and understand the basics. So I have to say what Teri is doing is quite impressive!!

I love the article Teri wrote about her testing journey in the article Be a Student for Life for Tea-Time with Testers, September 2013 “Women in Testing Special”. I too am a learner and am always curious about how things work and why they work certain ways. Like Teri I think we both want to know everything and most likely get ourselves a little overbooked because we want to do everything and know everything. I look forward to see what Teri does next! You can learn more about Teri through her LinkedIn profile.

What is Your Legacy – Part 3

I am enjoying writing this series on “What is Your Legacy?” There are so many wonderful testers in the trenches that are making a difference in the Testing community whether it sharing testing approaches or encouraging others to develop and further their skills. In Part 1 and Part 2, I share a few testers and leaders that I admire – even though some are “famous” in their own right I am focusing more on the testers who have found a way to have their voice heard! We may not all write books or speak at conferences but you can make a difference. Find your voice and a medium for it to be heard. Remember Jerry Weinberg, Lisa Crispin, James Bach, and Michael Bolton had to start somewhere! None of them achieved their success over night – instead it was years of dedication and hard work. So much has changed with social media, blogging, Skype, and e-books that the world has become smaller. You can “chat” with people around the world opening up learning opportunities. This provides excellent opportunities to “meet” testers that were not possible at one time. Today I would like to share a couple more testers that I admire. Do not forget to read the first part and the second part of this series.

Jean Ann Harrison
Jean Ann has such a heart and passion for mobile testing and works endlessly in helping companies and individuals understand how mobile testing is different than testing a web-based application. You can often find her offering a free webinar and she is active in social media engaging in meaningful discussions on how we can improve testing. You can learn more about Jean Ann’s impressive background from her LinkedIn profile including her publications. I would like to share a couple of interviews from CAST 2012 that provides meaningful suggestions on Mobile testing that can also be used for other forms of testing.

Jean Ann on Mobile Testing. A short YouTube video where Jean Ann talks about the importance of gathering information to isolate a problem when a developer is not convinced the problem is related to his code. This is a good example of how gathering more intelligence to tell the testing story differently so the developer understands the impact.

Jean Ann on the Complexity of Mobile Testing. A short YouTube video where Jean Ann talks about organizing your exploratory testing for Mobile testing. Through a google search you can locate other webinars that Jean Ann has presented and freely distributes to the Testing community.

Adam Knight
I became acquainted with Adam through a book review committee and was immediately impressed by his feedback in the discussion groups. Subscribing to his blog Software Testing – a Sisyphean Task? I learned more about thread-based testing which is similar to session-based testing. I had been using a similar approach and was glad to read how other testers are addressing testing problems with this approach. Adam shared his thread-based template and how he added a dashboard by using a MySQL database. I loved his approach and adapted it to how we work. So thank you Adam for sharing your approach with the Testing community! I used this article for one of my Lean Coffee Chats and the team really enjoyed the discussion – plus you can read James Bach article on why he came up with thread-based testing.

Adam provided this link within his article along with a lot of other valuable information providing an overall picture. He provides a lot of great research material with his articles and I would recommend that you follow his blog. Plus here is a short video from Adam on Sources of Learning from EuroSTARConference. You can learn more about Adam from his LinkedIn profile.

What is Your Legacy – Part 2

I recently attended a women’s conference with the theme “What is your Legacy?” Before I get back to my onboarding new testers series I am writing a few postings on testers who I believe are leaving a legacy in the testing field. It is important to understand that you do not need to be a consultant or own your own business to make a difference. Testers in the trenches can influence change not only in their organizations but also in the testing community. In part one I discussed a few testers that I admire for different reasons. Of course this is an endless list as each of us will admire different leaders. There are many well known leaders such as Cem Kaner, James Bach, Michael Bolton, and many many others. But my focus is more on the testers in the trenches and how they are leaving a legacy that have inspired me! I hope that you realize that everyone can have a legacy. Today I am sharing a few more testers. And think about your legacy – how will you be known – and how are you known presently?

Darren McMillan
I became acquainted with Darren through Twitter and was immediately impressed with his approaches for challenging how testers approach problems. He would tweet asking if anyone was interested in participating in a testing challenge that he was facilitating with his team. Different problems were identified such as “the world could end in 5-minutes” and “testing the future”. Testers would have a time-box to complete the assignment and would provide how they approached the problem, then Darren would meet with them and create a mind map with all the solutions and ideas. You can find his challenges on his website. I have used these challenges as part of my training program as they are a fun way to learn and you will find where you fall into thinking patterns that need to be broken. Plus it shows the power of teamwork over individual, silo testing. As a team we are stronger by bringing together different ways to approach the same problem. I remember when Darren started to blog about using mind maps to write test plans, test ideas, and test cases. It was very interesting to me since it was a lean way to capture information and visually was easy to read. He wrote about mind mapping in Tea-time With Testers and I found an opportunity to use them in test planning and execution. What I witness was testers around the world adopting mind maps as a way to plan and manage the complexities of testing. I don’t know if Darren realized the impact he would have with his blogs and articles but imagine if he did not blog about his ideas with fear they would be rejected.

Michael Larsen
Michael Larsen is an endless supporter of the testing community. He is a Black Box Software Testing (BBST) instructor. BBST is a challenging software testing program that I have not yet attended since it is always filled before I have a chance to enroll. My understanding from Michael and from the BBST website is that it is a blended learning approach using videos lectures, quizzes, different homework assignments, and a final exam. The homework and the exam are peer-reviewed. Every participant in the course reviews work submitted by other participants and provides feedback and suggests grades. What I really like about this approach is that you demonstrate your skills through various activities and at the end of it if you pass the course it really means something! Michael also maintains his own blog with interesting postings from book reviews, software testing techniques, and information on conferences. I love Michael’s book reviews because it has helped me identify books for my testing team. Michael also is a facilitator of Weekend Testing Americas and as the chapter has grown more facilitators have been added. I do admire how much Michael gives of himself to the Testing Community and his own beautiful family.

Elisabeth Hendrickson
Elisabeth has extensive experience as a developer, tester, manager, and quality engineering director in a variety of companies ranging from small startups to multi-national enterprises. You can learn more about her through her Test Obsessed blog. I love her book Explore It! Reduce Risk and Increase Confidence with Exploratory Testing. It is a small book in size but it is packed with valuable information and you only need to read a few pages to be inspired on how you might approach a testing problem differently. This is a great book to be part of your journal club to slowly work through the material to determine how it influences your testing and how you view testing. Take your time and do not rush the reading. Instead read a few pages and let the information sink in before moving on. I also love her book There’s Always a Duck. It is a collection of her postings from blogging and other places she published. It is a great collection of stories and information spanning her 15-years of writing. I love how she brought together this information in an e-book format making it easier to read and locate information. Elisabeth is a gifted writer and both books are important contributions to the testing community as they hold a wealth of information based upon her experiences.

What is your Legacy?

The Gift of Time

Recently at work I made a presentation regarding the Software Testing Department future direction. As part of that presentation I shared stories about a few testers who have made a difference in the field. The next day I attended a women’s conference that was focused around “What is your Legacy?” It was a fabulous conference that gets you thinking about how you live your life today forms how people remember you. It forms your legacy. For this posting, I wanted to share a few testers and leaders who are building or have built a great legacy! I hope one of your take-away from this posting is that you can influence change and make a difference. I bet when some of them started blogging on their ideas they did not imagine the impact!

Gerald Weinberg
Many of my readers will know Gerald Weinberg – many consider him the Father of Software Testing as he formed the first official testing department back in the 1950’s. He has inspired so many technical people through his writing, consulting, mentor-ship, and problem-solving training seminars. This short list does not do him credit for his influence in the tech world. For his 75th birthday a book was written to honor him called The Gift of Time that was written by influential testers and consultants to honor him regarding his contribution to Information Technology and how he influenced their careers. Imagine your legacy living on and people honoring you in such a way on your 75th birthday! Jerry writes for Tea-time with Testers and is involved with the content of the e-magazine and provides regular guidance. You can learn more about Jerry through his website.

Lisa Crispin
I have admired Lisa for many many years and was thrilled when we started to connect through social media. Lisa along with Janet Gregory were influential in helping testers find their voice as part of an agile team. I remember when the agile manifesto came out in 2001 and it was an exciting time since many of us worked in waterfall environments where it quite literally took years to get software to our customers. It was wonderful to hear that software could be delivered in smaller increments. But at the same time there was a buzz that testers were no longer needed on these agile teams. What did that mean for our careers? Were we destined to remain in the waterfall world with heavy documentation and long release cycles? Lisa and Janet both made a difference for us testers by finding our voice! I can only imagine how difficult this must have been since being a change agent is a very difficult role to fulfill. You will make sure that you read their book: Agile Testing: A Practical Guide for Testers and Agile Teams.

I am honored to be invited as a reviewer for their new agile book coming out later this year. I am inspired by the problems Lisa has tackled and how she freely shares this information to the community. Plus her dedication to travel around the world to speak and train at conferences. She works in my viewpoint, endlessly! You can learn more about Lisa by visiting her website.

Mike Talks

Mike is a wonderful story teller with the ability to view the world as if there is not any boundaries. As a former teacher, he provides a different way to approach testing problems coupled with his degree and knowledge of physics. I find that Mike will challenge your approach on a problem that opens up new avenues that you did not think about. I first “met” Mike through Twitter and his new years posting called: Let 2012 be the death of Superman! You can find that posting here. I used this posting as the starting point for my department’s start of the new year because there is nothing wrong with asking for help or admitting you do not know something. That is why a team approach is typically more effective than a silo approach. Often in the business world we can place too much emphasis on “solo superstars” instead of the integration of the team where you can still highlight your specialty.

Mike is a great mentor and I hope you take some time to get to know him. Mike’s ebook Software Minefield is a great book on his more than 15-years experience as a tester. It is written for experienced testers but there are chapters that are good for a new tester to read. You can learn more about Mike by visiting his website.

Ajay Balamurugadas
In 2009, Ajay was a co-founder of Weekend Testing designed to bring testers together for about 2-hours to test a web-based application focused on a testing charter to further develop their testing skills and knowledge. What I find amazing is this concept spread to Europe, US, and New Zealand. A small group of testers from India influenced testers throughout the world on a different way to progress their skills! I like their catch phrase: Test Learn Contribute. In the Testing Community it is about giving back to the community because we are stronger as a community if we each contribute. Ajay has written several e-books that I am pleased to say that I read before they were published. They are from a viewpoint of a new tester and are packed with a lot of great information! You can learn more about Ajay by visiting his website.

Heartbleed – Internet Security Hole!

heartbleed

Many of my readers of “The Testers Edge” may be pretty tech savvy when it comes to passwords and security. On my other blog “Realistic Cooking Ideas” I Previously wrote a posting about creating strong passwords for your accounts. Many people use “weak” passwords that are vulnerable for hackers. This time we have an Internet security hole for websites that start with “https” in the URL. The media is telling everyone to change their passwords; however do NOT change your password until the website provider applies the patch. Once they have applied the patch then you must change your password.

This is a very serious security hole that does not affect all Internet sites that have secured logins. There are a lot of sources to find out what sites are affected. This link provides a list of sites that are impacted that have applied patches and ones that are not impacted. Here is another link about Heartbleed that claims it affects 80% of websites! Here is a link I found regarding WordPress. And here is a tool to check a website heartbleed test. As a side note, I am in the tech field but on the software side. I do not specialize in security but I hope that sharing this information is helpful.

Once you know if a site you use is impacted, do NOT use it until there is a PATCH and then

CHANGE your password to a STRONG password!