Skip to main content

A simple test of time.

Last week I was performing another of my 5 minute testing exercises. As posted before, if I get a spare few minutes I pick something and investigate. This time, I'd picked Google Calendar.

One thing people use calendars for is logging what they have done. That is, they function as both schedulers and record keepers. You add what you planned to do, and they also serve as a record of what you did - useful for invoicing clients or just reviewing how you used your time.

Calendars and software based on them are inherently difficult to program and as such are often a rich source of bugs. People make a lot of assumptions about time and dates. For example that something ends after it starts.

That may sound like something that 'just is true', but there are a number of reasons why that might not be the case. Some examples are:
  • You type in the dates the wrong way round (or mix up your ISO and US dates etc)
  • You're working with times around a DST switch, when 30min after 0130h might be 0100h.
  • The system clock decides to correct itself, abruptly, in the middle of an action (A poorly implemented NTP setup could do this)
Google Calendar is widely used, and has been available for sometime, but I suspected bugs could still be uncovered quickly.


I opened Google Calendar, picked a time that day and added an item: Stuff i did. You can see it above in light-blue.


I then clicked on the item, and edited the date. But butter fingers here, typed in the wrong year. Not only that I type only the year in. So now we get to see how Google calendar handles an event ending before it begins.



Google Calendar appears to have deleted the date. OK, maybe its just deleting what [it assumes] is obviously wrong. But why the hour glass? () What was Google's code doing for so long?


A few moments later, after not being able to click on anything else in Google Calendar, I'm greeted with this:



OK, so if I click yes, thats good right? Otherwise won't I be disabling the Calendar code? A few moments later... The window goes blank...




A little later, the page reappears and you get another chance, and the Calendar starts to give you better warnings. But none-the-less that wasn't a good user experience, and certainly a bug.

These are simple to catch bugs, so I'm often left wondering why they are often present in widely used software that probably had considerable money expended in its development. This bug is quite repeatable and present across different browsers and operating systems. All it took was a little investigation.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Why you might need testers

I remember teaching my son to ride his bike. No, Strike that, Helping him to learn to ride his bike. It’s that way round – if we are honest – he was changing his brain so it could adapt to the mechanism and behaviour of the bike. I was just holding the bike, pushing and showering him with praise and tips.
If he fell, I didn’t and couldn’t change the way he was riding the bike. I suggested things, rubbed his sore knee and pointed out that he had just cycled more in that last attempt – than he had ever managed before - Son this is working, you’re getting it.
I had help of course, Gravity being one. When he lost balance, it hurt. Not a lot, but enough for his brain to get the feedback it needed to rewire a few neurons. If the mistakes were subtler, advice might help – try going faster – that will make the bike less wobbly. The excitement of going faster and better helped rewire a few more neurons.
When we have this sort of immediate feedback we learn quicker, we improve our game. When the f…

Thank you for finding the bug I missed.

Thank you to the colleague/customer/product owner, who found the bug I missed. That oversight, was (at least in part) my mistake. I've been thinking about what happened and what that means to me and my team.

I'm happy you told me about the issue you found, because you...

1) Opened my eyes to a situation I'd never have thought to investigate.

2) Gave me another item for my checklist of things to check in future.

3) Made me remember, that we are never done testing.

4) Are never sure if the application 'works' well enough.

5) Reminded me to explore more and build less.

6) To request that we may wish to assign more time to finding these issues.

7) Let me experience the hindsight bias, so that the edge-case now seems obvious!

Google Maps Queue Jumps.

Google Maps directs me to and from my client sites. I've saved the location of the client's car parks, when I start the app in the morning - it knows where I want to go. When I start it at the end of the day, Google knows where I want to go.
This is great! It guides me around traffic jams, adjusts when I miss a turn and even offers faster routes en-route as they become available.
But sometimes Google Maps does something wrong. I don't mean incorrect, like how it sometimes gets a street name wrong (typically in a rural area). I don't mean how its GPS fix might put me in a neighbouring street (10m to my left - when there are trees overhead).
I mean wrong - As in something unfair and socially unacceptable. An action, that if a person did it, would be frowned upon.
Example:
Let’s assume a road has a traffic jam, so instead of the cars doing around 60 mph, we are crawling at <10 mph.
In the middle of this traffic jam, the road has a junction, an example is shown here: