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STPCon 2011 Fall – Part 1 (Rhythm of Testing)

On October 26, 2011, in Syndicated, by Association for Software Testing
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It has been an interesting couple of days for me.  I flew from GRR (yes, of ParkCalc fame) to Dallas with Matt Heusser.  We talked about our joint presentations, our individual presentations and what we hoped to learn and hear while at STPCon.

We landed safely, after talking for FOUR HOURS!  Yeah, in the plane to Detroit, waiting at Detroit for the lay-over, then on the flight to Dallas.  I think the people around us were exceptionally glad that the flights were over.  We had a fantastic conversation, the woman next to us said “Wow.  I’ve never heard two guys get so excited about something so boring.”  I figure she was in marketing… or maybe upper management.

OK, so before I go on, let me just say that the turkey burger was delicious.  I found an undocumented requirement.  “Delicious AND well-done ground turkey.”  Bad night Sunday after a highly enjoyable conversation with Matt, Fiona Charles, Rich Hand, Abbie Caracostas and a bunch of other people. 

Monday morning I had very little energy, my own fault in retrospect, but we still gave a fairly solid presentation.  By afternoon I was closer to “up to speed” and could contribute much more.  We learned a lot from doing the workshop in front of living, breathing, thinking people and have already begun making changes for the future.

What we presented, and the exercises we conducted, involved a series of testing ideas, problems and scenarios.  We began with Matt talking about the idea of “quick attacks” testing.  That is, doing some basic hits against an application even if you don’t have much information about it.  We then applied a series of exercises around that idea.

Then, we introduced the idea of working against states specifications and expectations and how insights to that will change approaches to testing against the same applications, and others.  We then began discussing core ideas around bounds and equivalences in data and how that may impact our testing approach.  After lunch, we  moved on to discussing a variety of topics. 

Matt and I knew that there would be far more information to talk about than we possibly could get into a single day workshop.  We created a list of potential topics that could be of interest.  We presented that list to the class, allowed them to add their ideas and vote for the topics of interest to them.  Each participant was allowed three votes, we sorted based on the number of votes and began working our way down the list. 

This was a hugely fun exercise for us and resulted in some interesting discussion among all the participants in the session, as well as Matt and I.  What made an impression on some of the students is that we did not always agree.  In fact, there were cases where we made a point of showing where we differed, and how our experience and environments, the context in which we worked, impacted some of those views. 

As time wound down and we came to the end of the session, we had several topics we had not addressed.  Matt pointed out to them that in testing, as in the exercise, we may not have time to test everything on “the list” to be tested.  We will then have to work on the items that are of the most interest – Just as we selected topics that showed the most interest to discuss and work through with the students. 

Monday night we settled down for a light supper of appetizers and various beverages with a host of intelligent people.  The ideas and excellent conversation flowed, although I decided to call it a day and retire fairly early to prepare for Tuesday’s sessions and get some rest. 

 

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