Category Archives: Blog

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Programming for Testers

Abstract:

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!

http://youtu.be/HAL1krHmXhA

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.

Downloads:

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/.

Notes:

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

Natural Born Tester

Abstract:

Forget all that talk of methods, process, tools and training. The other 99% of presentations at the conference. You might just be a Natural Born Software Tester. You don’t need all that good stuff above, you just need to hone your natural skills.

So what is a Natural Born Software Tester and how will you know if you are one.

Here is a simple check-list.

1. Can you play Lemmings?
2. Can you play Railroad Tycoon?
3. Can you play Angry Birds?

OK, so you are beginning to think that this is either the wackiest presentation you have ever been to or there might be something to this. Read on.

Lemmings, a fun to play computer game of the early 1990s, was essentially a parallel programming interface. You had to explore. Then plan. Then execute, in parallel. Does that sound a little bit like software testing?

Railroad Tycoon was a Train Simulator that combined cutting edge game play and visuals with complex project management and control. You had to build a railway, operate it, and develop it. Very much a planning, monitoring and control exercise. Surely an excellent training activity for budding testers and test managers.

Angry Test Birds

Angry Test Birds ?

Angry Birds. Isn’t this just the greatest exploratory game? You have a number of birds, which I analogise to test techniques, and it is up to you to work out which birds / techniques to use, in which order, and when, to the have the greatest effect. Does this also sound a little bit more like software testing?

I firmly believe that we all have the ability to test. However I think those skills and abilities can be enhanced by non-test related activities, such as the games identified above, to increase our effectiveness as testers, or to put it another way, to become a Natural Born Tester.

So let’s put this to the test . . . . .

Downloads:

PowerPoint

Presented at:

1. Agile Testing Days, Potsdam, Oct. 2013.
2. Scottish Testing Group, Glasgow, Apr 2014. (Keynote)
3. Czech Test, Prague, Jun 2014 (Keynote)

Testing Secrets That We Dare Not Tell

Abstract:

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?

Downloads:

PowerPoint

Presented at:

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

Flowcharting Workshop

Abstract:

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.

Downloads:

 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

Abstract:

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:

FLowchartFlowcharts
Prototypes
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!

Downloads:

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.

The Testers Toolbox – Seven Powerful Cognitive Techniques

aka 7 Things You Might Not Know – (But May Find Really Useful)

Abstract:

This workshop will take you on a magical journey through some very useful but mostly unknown tools for perception and comprehension which will aid you in your daily testing life.

Building on the Graham’s previous work in the field, and his the enthusiasm for the subject, this workshop will you on a 90-minute journey of mind opening discovery, looking at 7 key but often overlooked tools.

Stroop effect

Stroop effect

The tools, and their techniques are easy, fun to learn, and very powerful to use. And they will help you in mastering testing in the industry’s currently very demanding transition from that of a structured V-model history to a leaner, more agile and exploratory approach.

The seven techniques that will be covered in the workshop are:

Gall-Peters Projection – a different but more accurate way to look at the world
Popper’s Theory of Testability – a powerful tool to scope testing
Mind Control – finally proof that your mind is not you own!
The Stroop Effect – a powerful mechanisms that can control your behaviour
The Necker Cube – what you see is not what I see!
The Spinning Dancer – the whole may look different to the detail
e-prime – how to communicate experience rather than judgement

The workshop will explain each technique through demonstration and interaction, followed by a discussion of the power of the technique and an insight into its most effective use.

The session will be highly interactive, directly involving the delegates in all of the exercises to give them a first-hand experience of each technique that they will be able to take back to their workplace.

Downloads:

PowerPoint NeckerCubeSmall      pdf

Presented at:

1. UK TMF, London, Apr 2010 (Workshop)
2. BCS SIGiST, London, Sep 2010 (Workshop)
3. EuroSTAR, Copenhagen, Dec 2010 (Workshop)

Notes:

The UK TMF workshop was co-hosted with Isabel Evans – Find out more about Isabel here.

Test Process Improvement – Answering the Big Questions!

Abstract:

A lot of people talk about improving the testing process, but very few people actually answer the BIG questions, such as:

Why? Is it just to save money, or do it quicker?

How? Do we follow an accepted method – TPI, TMMI? Are there change methodologies we can use?

What? Is it just automating test execution? What about planning, preparation, measurement and metrics, etc.?

Where and When? So where in our organisations, large and small, do we do this? And when is the best time?

Who? Is this just a testing team initiative? Do we need help? Who else is involved?

It is easy to ask the BIG questions but what we really want to know are the answers! This session will work through these questions to draw useful conclusions from the group’s collective experience.

Downloads:

PowerPoint  Workshop      PowerPoint NeckerCubeSmall Keynote      pdf

Presented at:

1. UK TMF Summit, London, Jan 2010 – (Workshop)
2. Soft Test Ireland, Belfast, Dublin, & Galway, Nov-Dec 2011 (Keynote)
3. Belgium Test Days, Brussels, Mar 2012
4. expo:QA 12, Madrid, Jun 2012 (Keynote)

How to Suspend Testing and Still Succeed – A True Story

Abstract:

This presentation covers a case study from a large testing program for a member bank which was part of the UK Faster Payments Infrastructure.

Graham will tell the story of a testing programme that was destined to fail, but ultimately succeeded.

He will give practical details of what went wrong, explain why testing had to be suspended, and discuss how with no real hope of recovery the team managed to set and meet their resumption requirements, and ultimately complete their testing on time.

He will explain the background to the project, the testing strategy that was devised and the programme organisational control structure.

He will also tell the story of what happened during test execution. Identify where things started to go wrong, how this was identified, and what measures were taken to ensure a successful resolution.

He will go into the detail of the challenges that the testing team, and the program were daily presented with when testing was suspended. And tell how innovation, ingenuity and perseverance, against all the odds,  won the day.

This is a real ‘war story’, from the testing front line, with valuable hard won experience, and is told in the very real hope that will benefit all who hear it.

Downloads:

PowerPoint

Presented at:

1. Expo:QA 09, Madrid, Sep 2009
2. BCS SIGiST, London, Sep 2010
3. Belgium Test Days, Brussels, Feb 2011
4. Czech Test, Prague, Jun 2014

A Hitch-hikers Guide to the Software Testing Galaxy

Abstract:

As Douglas Adams wrote in his book The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy, “Space is big. Really big. You just won’t believe how mind-bogglingly big it is.”

Well, the galaxy of software testing isn’t quite that big, but it is large, getting larger every day, and can be very confusing to begin with.  So how do we navigate safely through the software testing galaxy and keep up with its expansion?

This presentation will take the audience through the software testing galaxy, in the style of the Guide, describing the major testing constellations of; methods, skills, processes, tools, and measurement and giving advice on best practice for each.  This will be presented as a 3D mind-map visualisation, an exciting way to view and zoom into mind-maps.

The book was written from the original radio series in the late 1970’s, became a television series, and recently a Hollywood blockbuster film.  The plot was interspersed, in a funny way, with Douglas Adams’s experiences of Computing and Management methodology of the time.  He was quite visionary, in that the Guide was a brilliant prediction of how useful internet search engines and mobile computing would become, and with the new range of lightweight and powerful mobile devices, combined with Google and Wikipedia we are fast approaching his vision. These insights have never been more relevant, current, and useful than in today’s fast changing world.

He was also very observant, and this presentation will draw out some very useful and humorous behavioural analogies for software testing, including; towels, Vogon poetry, digital watches and more, using video clips as powerful illustrations. 

The delegates will be able to take away;

1) an overview of the Software Testing Galaxy,
2) a recommendation for good practice & what to avoid, and also
3) learn some very useful behavioural analogies.

Downloads:

PowerPoint    includes You_Tube videos

Presented at:

1. BCS SGST, London – Sep 2009
2. UNICOM, Next Gen, London – Nov 2009 (Keynote)
3. czech test, Prague, Mar 2011 (Keynote)