Skip to main content

Why so negative?

Have you ever had trouble explaining to a non-tester why you appear to be intent on breaking their software? It can be difficult to explain why it's important. So I thought a video might help...



If you want to read more about the scientific method, check out the hunky-dory hypothesis.

Comments

  1. It's an excellent point and a wonderful way of showing it, Pete. A few refinements:

    1) We don't break software; the software was broken when we got it.

    2) We don't create tests designed to cause failure; we create tests designed to expose the failures that are lurking.

    3) The illusion that the software wasn't broken and the illusion that we're creating failure are among the most important illusions we testers need to dispel.

    I'm delighted at the steady stream of excellent posts, and especially chuffed that it started to flow just after the Rapid Software Testing course in London. That was a rare group!

    ---Michael B.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks Michael, Thank you for your support - and yes the RST course definitely helped motivate me! I recommend the course to testers, programmers and project managers!

    I agree with your main point - that the software is essentially broken before it reaches the tester. The tester finds out that these problems are present in the system, and reports them.

    1) In the blurb when I refer to breaking the software, I'm describing how the process appears to others. i.e.: "to a non-tester why you appear to be intent on breaking their..."
    I tend not to use the phrase myself, except lightheartedly.

    2&3) I'm not so sure about these... for example: a judgement, coding or configuration mistake was made before the system is examined by the tester - But the system may not 'fail' until we perform certain actions. By fail I'm thinking: Displeases or confuses user, performs slowly, crashes or loses data etc.

    The incident on the Silver Bridge springs to mind (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silver_Bridge#Wreckage_analysis ) A contributing factor in the bridges 'failure' was a problem in the manufacture of a constituent part. Although this problem was in the system for many years, along with others such as a lack of redundancy, they did not 'fail' until December 15 1967.

    If we were testing such a system, might we not add higher than expected load in an attempt to 'cause a failure'?

    Though I can see that this engineering style language in a software setting is far from a perfect fit. Issues such as corrosion and decay don't apply. Though unplanned-for user load and change in usage do apply. I'm going to think about this...

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

A h̶i̶t̶c̶h̶h̶i̶k̶e̶r̶'s̶ software tester's guide to randomised testing - Part 1

Mostly Harmless, I've talked and written about randomisation as a technique in software testing several times over the last few years. It's great to see people's eyes light up when they grok the concept and its potential. 
The idea that they can create random test data on the fly and pour this into the app step back and see what happens is exciting to people looking to find new blockers on their apps path to reliability.
But it's not long before a cloud appears in their sunny demeanour and they start to conceive of the possible pitfalls. Here are a few tips on how to avert the common apparent blockers. (Part 1) Problem: I've created loads of random numbers as input data, but how will I know the answer the software returns, is correct? - Do I have to re-implement the whole app logic in my test code?
Do you remember going to the fun-fair as a kid? Or maybe you recall taking your kids now as an adult? If so then you no doubt are familiar with the height restriction -…

Betting in Testing

“I’ve completed my testing of this feature, and I think it's ready to ship”
“Are you willing to bet on that?”
No, Don't worry, I’m not going to list various ways you could test the feature better or things you might have forgotten.
Instead, I recommend you to ask yourself that question next time you believe you are finished. 
Why? It might cause you to analyse your belief more critically. We arrive at a decision usually by means of a mixture of emotion, convention and reason. Considering the question of whether the feature and the app are good enough as a bet is likely to make you use a more evidence-based approach.

Why do I think I am done here? Would I bet money/reputation on it? I have a checklist stuck to one of my screens, that I read and contemplate when I get to this point. When you have considered the options, you may decide to check some more things or ship the app. Either could be the right decision.
Then the app fails…
The next day you log on and find that the feature is b…

Software development is in the Doldrums

"Don't get off the boat."

"Seriously, never get off the boat," The instructor said, leaning forward and looking at each of us in turn.

"But surely if it's sinking..." We reply, somewhat confused and slightly incredulous. We've seen Titanic, we think to ourselves, we know how this sea survival stuff works...

"OK" He concedes, If things get really bad, "Get on the life raft if you can step-up from the boat to the life raft".

"But, But... the yacht is like 37ft long, Do we want to wait until that whole boat is lower than the life-raft? When less than 1ft of the yacht is above the surface? Meanwhile all the time the life raft is just there... floating happily alongside."

"Pretty much, yes," he said nodding.


That was about 15 years ago. Not much has changed since. The reasons are manifold. Firstly, the yacht is a decent shelter. The thin plastic of a legal minimum life-raft isn't going to protect you fro…