Back in business and I have tons of stuff to write about! But with what should I start? Why not the subject that is dearest to me, namely Exploratory Testing? There are many interpretations of what ET is, different entities have written tons of articles, blog posts and even books what it is and what it is not, gurus are battling it out in seminars... all done to a point of nitpickering. All this just confuses me and I've decided not to bother myself with that nonsense. Of course I still read everything and try to learn about ET, but only to aim for results and become better at it.
So, it's time for my first hands-on blog post. I usually encourage people to think for themselves by not giving them everything to complete what I'm wishing them to complete. I will continue on that path, but now I try to give a bit more; I try to give a real life example of how I do Exploratory Testing AND with a system that many consider to be the worst thing ever happened to a field of software testing; That is of course HP Quality Center.
So, for those who don't know what ET actually is, I try to give my own interpretation of it. Respecting the forefathers of ET, Cem Kaner and James Bach, the allmighty Wikipedia, James Whittaker and many others I consider ET to be a simultaneous process of learning, test design, test execution and test result interpretation guided by tester's personal creativity and experience (and that is experience on everything, not just testing) AND testing where next action depends on the results of the previous action. That is the official Powerpoint explanation I give to people. Awfully checklist like, ain't it?
At this point nitpickers have compelling need to say something, but I recommend them to back off! I'll bite! :)
But as ET is more about thinking than following certain rules, I try to think how those people think who I consider to be the ultimate Exploratory Testers. Here's are some of those:
Dr. Gregory House came the first in mind when I thought about the ultimate Exploratory Tester. He does something, learns from that and based on that learning, does something more, learns, does more, learns, etc. Simple isn't it? Simple aside, Dr. House fiddles around with immense amount of data in his head. He knows pretty much everything there is to know about medicine and applies that to his doing. And as the actor Hugh Laurie might follow a script, Dr. House never does.
Sherlock Holmes often states: "When you've eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however impropable, must be the truth." It's all about logical deduction that he applies in his work as a detective. He solves the unsolvable, finds the unfindable by removing the unnecessary. Being a professional isn't about doing a lot of things, but about doing the right things; This is the most important thing Mr. Holmes (or actually Sir Arthur Conan Doyle) has taught me.
Jeremy Clarkson is one of my all-time favourite TV characters. I greatly admire, and to some point follow his down-to-earth, tongue-in-cheek and fun-loving attitude towards life and work, even the most serious bits of it. He's also a brilliant example of a true Exploratory Tester; He loves testing. He's propably tested pretty much every car there is, always embracing the experience, feeling the ride and giving his honest input. He rates cars by giving a story about them, never ever by numbers. Of course some of his analysis is based on metrics like speed, acceleration, price, etc. but the final verdict is never done based on numbers as it shouldn't be in software testing either. Imagine explaining the brilliance of Bugatti Veyron via endless reports filled with graphs, numbers, yadi yadi yada OR via 10 minute story...
Gordon Ramsay is in all measures one of the greates chefs of all time, and also a great example of an ultimate Exploratory Tester. Actually making food is the best analogy for doing Exploratory Testing; The magic is in tasting. Tasting is what separates a McDonald's chef from Gordon Ramsay, Jamie Oliver, Wolfgang Puck, etc. You all have seen in TV how Mr. Ramsay operates when making food. He might have a recipe, but it doesn't dictate his work. Tasting does. He works on menu level, thinks what components go well with others, fiddles with taste and texture, adds, removes, combines and within an instant comes up with something wonderful. Rather than following a recipe he follows the thinking behind the recipe.
Rather than following a script follow a thinking behind it. Cool.
There are of course many more, but these four I consider to have the biggest influence on me when doing Exploratory Testing. It's all about thinking and following it over anything else. More about thinking in my previous post We Like To Think.
Ok, time for the anything else part then i.e. the actual methods, tools, implementation and whatnot. I've learned from my mistakes (Exploratory Testing, yey!) and I'm going to divide this post into several parts to prevent the tl;dr effect. Considering the amount I've written now and the amount I've written as draft, there should be three parts overall; This thinking part, the method/tool part and the actual implementation part. But as in Exploratory Testing, the plan might change...
But let's wrap this up with a quote. Today's topic is thinking, so let's have something around that. This piece is from one of my favourite motivational authors and has helped me to revise my actions when doing regression testing, forming test data, creating plans, etc:
"The world is what you think of it, so think of it differently and your life will change." -Paul ArdenYours truly,