Tag Archives: #esconfs

Instructional Games for Software Testers


The educational world has now recognised that we learn best when we are relaxed, enjoying ourselves, and have the freedom to experiment and learn through making mistakes.


This workshop engages the participants in playing, developing and understanding how instructional games will help them, as testers, test leads and test managers, to better comprehend the power of communication, and improve their communication skills.

Test Concept Charades

The first game we will play is ‘Test Concept Charades. This is where we have to explain common testing concepts without using some key words. Sounds simple until you try to explain complex technical concepts in plain language.

Throw in a little competition between teams and this quickly becomes quite fun 🙂

Ten Hundred Words

upgoerfiveThe second game, the ‘Ten Hundred Words‘ game, is based on the #upgoerfive concept explained at https://xkcd.com/1133/.

We use this concept to describe complex technical stuff, although software testing isn’t quite rocket science, by only using words on the Ten Hundred most common words list – by the way thousand is not on the list. This helps us to communicate testing and test concepts effectively, whilst not confusing our audience with technical double-speak (or jargon).

After playing each game the delegates will work on developing the game and creating their own ‘specific’ variant suited to their organisational situation. We will then examine when it is appropriate to use the games, and what the desired outcomes are.

Both games combine to help us learn new and enhanced ways to communicate more effectively with others, and especially with those who may not have the same level of technical understanding that we do.

Afterwards & Takeaways

Back in the office attendees are able to develop and use the games with their colleagues to demonstrate the learning points from the workshop. They will also be able to test their own versions developed in the session and be left with a deeper insight into how to communicate with non-technical people.


PowerPoint Show     Powerpoint Show (2.3mb)

Presented at:

1. Test Management Summit, London. Apr 2016.
2. EuroSTAR 2016, Stockholm, Nov 2016.


  1. Up Goer Five
    The original Up Goer Five concept by Randall Munroe.
  2. Saturn 5 Rocket described in Up Goer Five
    Well worth a visit just to marvel at the ingenuity 🙂
  3. The Up Goer Five text editor
    Give it a go yourself?
  4. The Ten Hundred Words List

EuroSTAR 2016 Discount Code

As a speaker at this year’s EuroSTAR conference, the organisers have sent me a discount code (badge), that ‘colleagues / friends / followers’  or just about anyone, can use to get a 10% discount. It might not seem like much, but every little helps.


PS. If you were wondering, I do not get anything for promoting this. I do so in the hope that it might help someone 🙂

It is that time of year again – Hints and Tips

Yes, it’s Conference Submission Time.

cycleThere is a cycle to conferences. For the larger ones, i.e. EuroSTAR, ATD, etc., then it may even start before the last conference has taken place. The conference chair needs to be appointed. The venue and dates chosen – conference halls have to be booked well in advance.

When last year’s conference finished next years will be introduced. The new chair will set a theme, and post a call for papers.  This is going on now for the EuroSTAR 2016 conference (Call for submissions closes on 5th Feb 2016).

TipHere are some Hints and Tips for submitting to conferences.

I was lucky enough to be on the EuroSTAR 2011 program committee and I wrote a post about tips for submitting here. The current EuroSTAR program team have done the same so don’t forget to check it out if you are considering submitting.

There were 460+ submissions that year, 2011, and only 50 or so successful candidates. It isn’t as simple as saying “Well that is a one in nine chance, so I will put in nine submissions!”  Carefully read through all of the advice, then craft your proposal.  And remember, if you don’t submit, then you definitely won’t be successful.

If you aren’t successful in winning a speaking slot at your chosen conference, then do not despair. There are loads of things that you can do, for free, in the interim, to a) develop yourself, and b) increase your chances of submission success for a future conference.

Here is my How to educate yourself in Software Testing for Free plan. Try it for a year, and get your ‘money back’ if it doesn’t work.

There is loads of free software testing stuff out there on the internet just waiting for you, so take advantage of it.

BlogBlogs:  Lots of software testers blog – you are reading one now – so check them out. I wish it was as simple as telling you which ones to read. It isn’t that easy. Follow the links to interesting blog articles. The bloggers you like will become favourites. But don’t forget that there are also interesting posts from people you may not have heard of.
Tip: Try reading blog posts that you disagree with. It may not change your mind, but you will get another perspective.

PowerPoint ShowPresentations: Amazingly, almost all of the conference presentations can be found online. You can see the slides, read papers, and supporting material. Start by browsing the Resources section of this site 🙂  So you still get to read the presentations even if you didn’t go to the conference.
Tip: Check out Twitter for announcements of posts and uploads.

ebooke-books:  A lot of software testing authors write shorter e-books which are freely available. It doesn’t take long to search for them. Surprisingly, some of them are actually worth reading!
Tip: Try reading them on your daily commute – as long as you don’t drive. Or put away one hour a week to read e-books.

WebinarWebinars: Which are online presentations. These are great. I have done several myself which you can find in the Resources section. Basically you get to hear the presenter as well as see their slides. This adds an extra dimension to the presentation, and can give you further detail not available from just reading the slides.
Tip: Many of the major conferences arrange webinars throughout the year.

YouTube2Live Days: Some conferences will actually broadcast a live day. They select presentations throughout the day that give a positive representation of the conference. These may even be videoed which will give you a real feel for the event.
Tip:  You don’t always have to listen live. They are sometimes available after the event for later viewing. Great for conferences in different time zones.

Armed with all of this information, if nothing else, you will have gained a wider understanding of what is going on around you in the software testing world, and you may have learned a few things on the way.

Programming for Testers


We hear a lot these days about how testers should learn to code, become more technical, and have more development orientated skills. Unless you came into software testing as a ‘burnt out’ developer, it is unlikely that you have coding skills, or a deep understanding of the technical ins and outs of your current systems landscape.

What can you do about it? Is programming hard? How can you learn to code, gain the benefits and still master your current workload, which keeps on relentlessly increasing?

This workshop will show you how easy it actually is, as a tester, to learn how to program. The hard part, as always, is how to start. We will start with 3 simple steps and get you up and running with Python. You will write the simplest “Hello World” program. However, we will not stop there. We will then explore the ‘next steps’, and give you the confidence to write more complex programs.

Sound great, but when you are back in the office, sitting in front of a blank screen, doing this on your own will suddenly get much harder. To combat that we will arm you with some of the most useful on-line information available. Someone, somewhere on the planet, has already found the answer to your problem, and most likely created a YouTube video showing you how!


As a Tester you know that just writing code is not enough. It has to be shown to work. So not only will we write some code, we will ‘Test’ it as well. To make this even more enjoyable, together we will write programs to control a simple USB Robotic Arm, connected to a Raspberry Pi computer, on which we will run and ‘Test’ our code. We Testers can have fun too!

We will conclude by drawing up a personal development plan for how you can continue to develop your Programming skills, and how you can deploy them back in the office.

To participate it is highly recommended that you bring along a laptop with Wi-Fi that you can; download to, install software on, and edit the path variable. (If you can’t download and install software, i.e. your machine is a secure build, you will still be able to write code in text files that may be transferred to another machine for compilation and running.)

Each journey starts with a single step. Let me help you take your first programming steps today.


Impress  .odp format      pdf  Presentation      pdf  PFT Paper Gold Star

Webinar EuroSTAR Webinar     PowerPoint Show  Webinar Slide Show    You_Tube  YouTube Video

Code examples:

Python  Exercise 1      Python  Ex. 2      Python  Ex. 3      Python  Ex. 3.5

Python  Arm Template      Python  Arm Hint Template

(Please note: Due to the limitations of this Server, .py extension files can not be served direct. After opening, whilst saving the file, remove the .txt E.g. Exercise1.py.txt is saved as Exercise1.py)

PearlTrees2  PearlTrees Collection
(This is an on-line collection of web links referenced in the presentation)

Presented at:

1. Belgium Testing Days, Bruges, Mar 2014. (Workshop)
2. TMF Summit, London, Apr. 2014.  (½ Day Workshop)
3. Czech Test, Prague, Jun. 2014. (Tutorial)
4. Agile Testing Days, Potsdam, Nov. 2014. (Workshop)
5. EuroSTAR, Dublin. Nov. 2014.  (Workshop)  Gold Star
6. BCS SIGiST, London, Dec. 2014.  (½ Day Workshop)
7. EuroSTAR Webinar, Sep. 2015.

A blog post telling the story of the workshops can be read here http://badgerscroft.com/home/a-year-in-the-life-of-programming-for-testers/.


This session was developed jointly with my good friend Phillip Isles.  We co-presented all of the workshops, except for the Czech Test Tutorial.
Phill and I co-wrote the Programming For Testers paper which was nominated for EuroSTAR 2014 best paper. Gold Star

Testing Secrets That We Dare Not Tell


I have worked in IT for over 30 years, and in software testing for over 20 years, so you might think that I know a lot about IT and in particular software testing. Well, I am going to share some dark secrets about software testing with you, which we dare not tell, and in the form of questions.

I firmly believe that “There are some fundamentals of software testing that we really don’t understand or know the answers to yet.”

I wish I did know all the answers. Then I could stand in front of you, looking all superior, and just tell you what they are. But No, it is not that easy!

Here are some simple questions. They are very easy to ask. Unfortunately they are very difficult, if not impossible to answer.

What is the purpose of Software Testing?

Just how effective is the way we test – and how do we know? (Trad, V-Model, Structured Testing, agile or any other form of testing for that matter?)

If checking isn’t software testing, then why is it that ‘checking’ is what our stakeholders are paying us to do?

If software testing is so difficult, demanding and challenging, then why is it that we keep on assigning the least skilled or experienced to perform it?

Why do software testers spend so much of their time running tests that do not find bugs?

These questions are important because they drive at the very heart of what we are doing in the software testing industry today, and understanding the answers will surely prime the future direction that our industry will move in.

This session has been designed to be a highly interactive discussion which many people might find challenges their basic understandings. I will act as facilitator, give an introduction to each question, then actively moderate the debate and if needed take on the role of arbiter. Come along, expect to be involved, and if you have a view then please share it. Help to drive forward the discussion – and the software testing industry.

Now a politician would question the very premise of these questions, which may be fun in itself, but if for a moment we accept the premise of these questions, then what does that really say about the state of software testing? And shouldn’t we be doing something about it?



Presented at:

1. TMF Meeting, London, Apr 2013  (Workshop)
2. EuroSTAR, Gothenburg, Nov 2013

Flowcharting Workshop


Brand Spanking new B+ in Coupe case :-)

Brand Spanking new B+ in Coupe case 🙂

By now many of you will have heard about the Raspberry Pi, the $35 British computer that

is helping schoolchildren to learn how to write computer programs. To date over 1.75 million have been produced. A real success story.

Some of you may also know that over the last 18 months I (Graham) have been actively trying to reconvert the world to using flowcharts.

Well now Phillip Isles and I have brought these two themes together in the form of a highly interactive flowcharting workshop presented using the Raspberry Pi and a programmable Robotic Arm.

This session should be informative, fun, and productive. Informative in that you will find out how really powerful a $35 computer can be. Fun because we will use the Penguins logic puzzle game on the Raspberry Pi as the basis for the flowcharting exercise. And productive because you will learn or relearn how powerful quick and easy it is to generate flowcharts to aid in your daily work.

To play an active part in this workshop you will need something to draw flowcharts with, be that notepad and pencil, computer, tablet or phone.


 Impress  .odp format      Film  You_Tube  Video

Presented at:

1. EuroSTAR Test Lab, Amsterdam, Nov 2012
2. UK Testing Retreat, Hereford, Jan 2013
3. UK TMF, London, Jul 2013

Great But Now Overlooked Tools


The idea for this presentation comes directly from EuroSTAR 2011. Sitting on the bus back to the conference centre after attending the Gala Dinner, a discussion started, about the industry luminaries who turn up at conferences and give presentations which roughly say “Don’t do all the stuff that I told you to do 5 years ago! Do this stuff now.” But, but, but . . . .

As we got talking I realised how many simple effective tools I no longer used, because they have either become overlooked, forgotten and thus fallen into disuse, or because modern methods claim not to need them and they are redundant. I wondered if any of them were worth looking at again – starting with my flowcharting template; I realised it is a great tool which I have overlooked for too long!

And aligning with this year’s conference theme of renovation, here is my list of 10 great but now overlooked tools:

Project Plans
Mind Maps
Tools we already have at our disposal like ….
Aptitude Tests
Hexadecimal Calculators
Desk Checking
Data Dictionaries and Workbenches

This is my list of really useful tools that I think are overlooked. In the presentation I will briefly outline each tool, why I think it was great, and what we are missing out by not using it.

Of course the audience will have a different view of what great tools have been overlooked, so we will capture those tools as well, using a Mind Map that we can quickly share with other attendees after the session, using Twitter, or other Social Networking tools.

And it naturally follows that if there are some tools we have overlooked then there are also some tools that we should get rid of! I will present my own list, hoping that the debate isn’t too heated, and also update the Mind Map with the collective view of tools that we should also dispense with!


PowerPoint      pdf      pdf  EuroSTAR session generated MindMap
Webinar  EuroSTAR Webinar (Test Huddle logon required)

Presented at:

1. UK TMF, London, Jul 2012.  (Workshop)
2. EuroSTAR, Amsterdam, Nov 2012.
3. EuroSTAR, Webinar, May 2013.

EuroSTAR 2011 Program Team

When Geoff Thompson asked me to join his EuroSTAR 2011 Program Team I did not hesitate to say “Yes“. If only I had known how much work it was going to be I might have reconsidered. It did however give me one of my best Tweets ever at a testing conference, “Oh no! The smoke machine has failed.” Was it fun? Probably . . . .

Smoke and Mirrors

Smoke and Mirrors – Photo: R. Marselis

This is the grand opening. As you can see, the conference chair, Geoff, was totally engulfed in smoke.  To set the scene: The auditorium lights were turned down. The smoke machine was turned on. All that the audience could hear was  a hissing as smoke filled the stage.  Then Thin Lizzy started up. As the band hit “The Boys are Back In Town” the 4 members of the team, Geoff, Derk-Jan, Morten and I, had walked from behind the screen, out of the darkness to the front of the stage, and  were illuminated by four very bright spotlights.

It’s one way to start a testing conference.

Throughout the week the day was started with a Hello Manchester session, which included all sorts of amusements and insights form the program team, et al.

The closing session was also fun, organised by Morten, and included a raffle for a place at the following years conference which involved little bugs hidden in the backs of the seats.

Men In Black - Photo: R. Marselis

Men In Black – Photo: R. Marselis

I really can’t remember very much of the conference, apart form the fact that the program team were very busy.  If you were there I hope you enjoyed it 🙂

Presented at:

EuroSTAR 2011, Manchester, Nov 2011.