Monday, June 30, 2008
Another takeaway was how intrigued I am with behavior-driven development and tools such as Easyb, although I'm not sure yet how or whether to apply it here. It did affect my thought pattern when writing test cases, although I know BDD is supposed to be about coding and design, not customer-facing tests.
I suppose I should think of a metaphor to connect this to agile testing in some way, but it was just plain fun, and a great break from so many months of hard work on the book and on presentations. Now, back to work!
Friday, June 27, 2008
We had a long discussion about what went wrong and how to do better. One thing was that although we identified 6 "steel threads" (aka thin slices, tracer bullets) in our big UI story, we didn't finish the third thread until the 7th day of the sprint - at which time most of four more threads were also done. It was incredibly confusing to try to test it, we couldn't tell what should work and what shouldn't, and we missed a couple of gaps in the features. Plus, unit tests were being written after the fact.
Here's our stop/start/continue list that resulted from our retrospective:
- Transfer whiteboard drawings from conference room to Scrum arena, and check off threads as they are done
- First thread of first story has to be done by first Tuesday of Sprint
- Log remaining hours on task card (in Mingle) prior to Scrum
- Test first
- Working more than one thread ahead of unfinished thread
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
I've been multitasking from one story to another and run into roadblocks, both in my manual testing and my automated testing. FitNesse fixtures don't work like I expect, and they're hard to fix. We're replacing old code with new code, but don't want to rip out the old code yet just in case we can't release. So that's confusing. I feel like I just can't get anything really done.
There's much testing left to do, and only one more day left in the sprint. We rarely have sprints like this, and when we do, I have a hard time feeling productive.
Plan of action: Try to quit multitasking, and focus on getting one thing done. Hope for lots of good luck!
Monday, June 23, 2008
The Anita Borg Systers Pass-It-On Grants honor Anita Borg’s desire to create a network of technical women helping one another. The grants, funded by donations from the Systers Online Community, are intended as means for women established in technological fields to support women seeking their place in the fields of technology. The grants are called “Pass-It-On” grants because they come with the moral obligation to “pass on” the benefits gained from the grant.
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Pass It On Grants
Thursday, June 19, 2008
Mike feels that one way to achieve this is to help people understand their peers' viewpoints better. He introduced an exercise to help people in different roles on the team understand the important traits of each discipline, and trade ideas on what teammates in other roles like or dislike about each discipline.
An interesting point of the presentation was that there was a development team where all the team members scored the same on a Myers-Briggs style test. The manager had hired himself four times. Lack of diversity is not a good thing.
This made me think about the times we've hired a tester onto my agile team. I brought in testers who were great with communication, collaborating with customers, exploratory testing, but not a lot of skills on the automation/technical side. I felt they could contribute value, but my developer coworkers gave them thumbs down. In each case, we hired a very techy tester (fortunately, also good at all the other things).
Mike's presentation made me realize that the developers were most comfortable hiring someone like themselves. This is understandable, but not always in the best interests of the team. Having realized this will help us in future hiring efforts, I think. Do we really not like something about the candidate, or is it just that they're different than we are? Could the differences make us better?
There appears to still be a lot of controversy in the agile community over testers and their role on the team. Interdisciplinary awareness might help agile teams realize that people with a different skill set might add tremendous value to their team.
Friday, June 13, 2008
In my class on "Ten Principles of an Agile Tester", a QA manager described an interesting problem (to which I had no ready answer!) The programmers in her company have decided to implement agile, but they think they can do it all by themselves, in isolation. They feel they don't need the testers, analysts and all the other groups to go along. From what I understood, the programmers felt they could still just hand off the code to the QA group when they were finished, and they apparently believed they could communicate with the customers directly and get the requirements.
The QA manager is understandably frustrated with this situation. She has tried repeatedly to sit down with the programmers and figure out how the testers can work with them, and show them how the testers can add value. They aren't cooperating.
What to do? I was once in a situation where I joined a team that had never had testers, only developers, although they did have BAs. They wouldn't let me join the daily standup, they wouldn't include test estimates in story estimates or in iteration planning, and they declared stories "done" before they were tested. I argued that I should be a part of the team, to no avail. After we missed the release date because the testing wasn't finished, I asked the coach if we could try things my way, and work together all as one team, everyone taking responsibility for testing, not considering stories done until they were tested. He agreed to try it for the next release cycle. We released on time and the customers were happy. So there was no more debate.
In my experience, sometimes people have to feel the pain before they'll change. I know for sure that evangelizing doesn't work. (Blogging feels a bit like evangelizing which is one reason I never did it before).
I'm interested in your comments, if you've ever had a situation like this, what did you do?
BTW, a couple of posts back I mentioned that we were tracking our refactoring tasks in our DTS, in our online story board tool, and in our Wiki. We have decided to try tracking them only in the online story board tool, as task cards, and add some fields so we can find them easily and include all the information needed before and after doing the task. We'll see how it works! Experimenting is good.
Friday, June 6, 2008
I'm no futurist, but I think we are seeing this in testing as a result of agile development. Since the last 90s, tools such as JUnit have led many teams to use practices such as TDD and CI that vastly improve software quality. Getting programmers interested in testing and test automation has led to an explosion of useful open-source testing-related tools.
We testers (and when I say that, I mean all you programmers and everyone else who tests) have been left out in terms of IDEs and other tools that would make writing and automating tests way faster and easier. That's changing now and I bet it will change really fast. Maybe in a year or so we will have fabulous tools for writing and refactoring tests, tools to help us focus better on exploratory testing, maybe tools for types of testing we haven't thought of yet. The Agile Alliance functional test tools group headed by Jennitta Andrea is pushing an effort to get to a new generation of functional test tools.
I think the future of software testing is just about here.
Speaking of the future being now, Janet Gregory and I turned in our draft manuscript for our Agile Testing book last Sunday night. Whoohoo! Four lovely people will be doing technical reviews of it, and then we get to revise it some more, and it's supposed to go into production in August. I hope that means it will be out in the fall. I wish I had a way to express our gratitude to the many people who have helped us, and in turn agile testers and teams everywhere, with this book.
Thursday, June 5, 2008
How to keep a record of what we changed, so that later, someone can say "When was it that we removed that tax id column and changed all that code?" and we can find it quickly? We have a wiki page for each sprint, and up to now, we wrote all the refactoring changes on the sprint wiki page. However, now that we can't use physical cards (because one team member is remote), we have more tools to track things. We put all our refactoring "cards" in a "refactoring" database in our DTS. When we started this sprint, we wrote cards in our online story board (Mingle) for all the refactoring cards we might do (which seems like extra work, but Mingle has some visibility advantages over the DTS).
As we started to log all our refactoring changes actually made on the wiki, it starts to seem like double work. In the spirit of DRYness, we want to pick one place to track the refactoring. The DTS and MIngle seem like the most likely options, but we should pick one or the other.
I'm trying to get a consensus, see this space for what we decide. If you have solved a similar problem, please post a comment!
I haven't figured out the answer to yesterday's dilemma either, about some automated way to verify our test schema whenever we refresh it from production. So far this blog seems to be about questions, rather than answers.
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
So how about something interesting to start out with. Today there was a thread on the agile-testing Yahoo group about defect tracking systems (DTS), and someone asked for an example of when you got information from a DTS that was useful. Today our test system got an error that seemed mighty familiar, but I couldn't remember the cause from when it happened before. I was able to find it easily in the DTS, it was a missing trigger. Periodically we replace one of our test schemas with a fresh copy of production, and in the process, triggers get disabled or lost (not sure why). If I couldn't have found this in the DTS, it would have taken longer to track down the problem.
Someone replied to this post wondering why I didn't have a test to detect the problem. The regression suite that runs in our build uses a different schema, that has canonical data. However, I could easily have run a regression suite against the new copy of production and found the problem. I'll do that from now on, but how to remember to do it? Manual steps are easily forgotten...