Recap Of WHaTDa And QA Or The Highway

Monday and Tuesday of this week (02/16 and 02/17/2015) had me in Columbus, Ohio for the Workshop on Teaching Test Design and QA Or The Highway. QA Or The Highway is a regional conference designed for software testers. This is the second running, and the second time it has sold out. This time to a bigger crowd than last year.

QA Or The Highway was great again this year. I didn’t attend a whole lot of track sessions, but the ones I did get to were high quality. Joe Ours puts on a good conference.

I did speak at the conference this year which was different from last. I did a talk on testing APIs that included and intro to REST, information on the testing VS checking dilemma, and a live demo with some code I wrote using frisbyjs. Public speaking is a new craft for me, and I’m growing into is and learning from others. Overall, I feel like it went pretty well.

WHaTDa was a one day workshop focused on teaching test design. It reminded me a lot of WHOSE, that is a good thing. We started the workshop at 9am with introductions; a little about who we were, what we were working on, and how we were planning to contribute to the workshop.

The goal, as with most Excelon Development workshops was to produce something useful to the testing community by the end of the day. Usually about halfway into the day, I start getting the feeling that producing something quickly is completely impossible.

After lunch, we split into groups and focused on an exercise we wanted to build and contribute to the wider testing community. I paired, or maybe grouped is a better word, up with Paul Harju, Megan Studzenski, and Dwayne Green.

A new Test Challenge

The 4 of us built something, and we hope it is useful to you.

We build a testing exercise based on a program that determines whether the text you entered into a field is a palindrome or not. It sounds simple, and it is, but there are a number of ways you can frame this simple program into a test exercise.

Here is the Palindrome Challenge. Feel free to use it however you like with credit to the authors.

Here are some framing examples you can use. This is what we came up with during the workshop, there are of course many other ways you can run the challenge.

For the person giving the challenge: you have to address what the scope of the exercise should be.

Here is one possibility:
1 – Design a test strategy / how would you test this (actually write the strategy down)
2 – Test for a couple of minutes using strategy
3 – What did you find? Did the stuff you found matter? Why?
4 – If you had more time, what tests would you run?
5 – Debrief

You could also do a survey of test techniques.

— Domain
— Function
— Risk
— Load
— Security

Maybe run the exercise a couple times, and see how the test strategy differs based on the identified technique.

Seeding test ideas:
I know there is a bug in X area, how would you test for that?

Megan’s Gambit:
For any given exercise, you can make another exercise by having the student identify what they were doing and why.

Test exercises are everywhere, framing and scoping are the hard part.

Have fun!

Deciding if test retreat is right for you

2014 will mark the third run of TestRetreat and the second time I’m attending. The first was last year. Yep, two years in a row. I had a fantastic time last year and left with some useful tools. I’m confident this year will be no different.

I wanted to share some reasons here I think you should consider attending this event.

Presenting and conferring
TestRetreat is a small group of people, last year I think attendance was capped at 30 or 35 people. There is no pre-set agenda, this is a conference for the people, by the people. What I mean is that most every one that attends TestRetreat presents on a topic or facilitates discussion on something. This isn’t required, but it is encouraged and participation is what makes peer conferences like this great. Last year, I facilitated a discussion on testing skill. This was the first time I had put myself in front of a group and talked about something. If you are interested in dipping your toes into that pool, this really is a safe place to do that.

People you will want to talk with
This peer conference attracts people that care deeply about testing and developing their craft. Being held on a Saturday before another great conference means that people in attendance are people that are serious about being there. If you want to spend time next to writers, presenters, and independent testers, this is the place. You may see this appealing to authority, and it is a little bit, but it is a great group of people and you won’t find them all in the same room very often.

The conference below the conference
TestRetreat is an event preceding CAST2014 in New York. There are a few events surrounding CAST each year: lean coffee, tester games, tester competitions, after hours conversation over beers. CAST is a great conference. For me it is the conference, but it wouldn’t be the same without all the events just below the surface. TestRetreat is the one you don’t want to miss.

Great things begin at TestRetreat
Being present last year lead to me attending WHOSE, doing a lot more writing, and now speaking at CAST 2014. What great things will you do that get started here?

I hope to see you there!