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

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. Testing is gambling with your time to find information about the app. 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

The gamification of Software Testing

A while back, I sat in on a planning meeting. Many planning meetings slide awkwardly into a sort of ad-hoc technical analysis discussion, and this was no exception. With a little prompting, the team started to draw up what they wanted to build on a whiteboard. The picture spoke its thousand words, and I could feel that the team now understood what needed to be done. The right questions were being asked, and initial development guesstimates were approaching common sense levels. The discussion came around to testing, skipping over how they might test the feature, the team focused immediately on how long testing would take. When probed as to how the testing would be performed? How we might find out what the team did wrong? Confused faces stared back at me. During our ensuing chat, I realised that they had been using BDD scenarios [only] as a metric of what testing needs to be done and when they are ready to ship. (Now I knew why I was hired to help) There is nothing wrong with c

DevOps and Software Testing.

Most of my recent work has been with DevOps teams. While in one sense DevOps is another evolution in software development. It also introduces some new skill requirements and responsibilities into the daily routine of a tester. These diagrams tend to confuse people, hence the video... I've created a short video to highlight some of these changes and the opportunities they bring. It's not an exhaustive view of DevOps but it gives a highlight of what you could be working with. While DevOps isn't a panacea to our software development problems, I have found that empowering teams with the ability to build and use the tools they need, can rapidly improve team morale and productivity.