Monday, May 10, 2010

EWT17: Rocket science in software testing

This weekend I attended another session of European Weekend Testers. This session was facilitated by Thomas Ponnet and had another approach then in the past. This time we could prepare ourselves a bit. The tool under test was offered before the session started.

What has this to do with rocket science? It was the plug-in which had to be tested.

The Participants were:
Shruti Gudi,
Jeroen Rosink,
Tony Bruce,
Zeger van Hese,
Catalin Anastasoaie,
Katya Kemeneva,
Dominique Comte,
Pradeep Soundararajan,
Jaswinder Kaur Nagi,
Thomas Ponnet,
Anna Baik,
Markus Gärtner

I have to admit it was a great crowd, a great session and an useful round-up.

What to learn
Last week Andreas Prins posted on his blog the question what can be learned: Attitude or methods? with weekendtesting. In his posting I wonders when reading articles related to weekendtesting he never see a reference like: "As ISTQB Chapter X page xxx we must do this or that" it is a good remark from him. Mainly in projects I don't refer to pages of ISTQB either. Not in this context. When testing in the weekend, or on a project, you refer towards your experience or even sources were people are telling about their experience in a certain context. That experience can be based on theory combined with common since and the situation.

What can you learn in Weekend Testing. I'm not able to tell you what you will learn. You might learn how to look at yourselves. You might learn to think beyond the borders of the regular testing projects you are into. You might learn from the approaches from others. You might learn how to learn.

The mission
The missing this week was different then others, this time we had a manager of a band who had a gig that evening and wanted to make sure that the plug-in he found was suitable and stable. If not, would we be able to propose alternatives.

The approach
Basically I looked at the application to the following points
- try to play wav while plug-in is not available
- try to play wav after plug-in is selected
- tried to alter the sound of the wav using several preset schemes.
- asked the manager about when it is stable, plug-in /laptop
- asked the manager about under which condition plug-in was used
- played with multiple files,
- used other wavs
- used wav and midi together,, no option to mix tunes
- used the key board and options while music was playing, it interferes with the output.
- the midi/wav player, played a bit with that.
- looked at the minihost and used several schemes/presets
- used the buttons on the minihost
- tried to work together with multiple minihosts
- try to record music
- tried using strange actions like using short-keys how app. reacted

Some issues
Below you find the highlight of issues I found during the session. These were findings from my side.
Error01: message shown when opening the minihost
Sometimes when using the minihost this error is shown. Not always reproducible
Error02: error shown when opening recorded wav
when opening the “test.wav file just recorded this message is shown, although the wav file created/recorded using mic is 1kb.
Error3: opening another own wav file error is shown, wav not played
When opening another .wav file format the following message is shown and wav is not played.
Err0r04: Recording not working
When using the recorder it shows that a number of kb is created. Even the file and location is shown correct only the actual recording is not made
Error05: when new file is played, not selected
When a song is ended and a new is played in the list, the selection is not made, the original keeps “blue”
Error 06: in global settings window: “tempo” is not working
When using the Tempo slider, no effect on wav-output
Error07 multiple files able to select, last file is played
Error08 buttons not fine approachable, usability is less

When trying to turn on the buttons it is no following the direction of the mouse
Error09when playing a song, and hitting button on midi/wav recorder interferes with output
When playing a tune and you press other buttons of this app, then music/tune is stopped/ hanging for a few moments.
Error10 pressing The F3 button while playing a wav makes the music hang,
When pressing the F3 button on minihost.exe while playing application is hanging. No other interaction with system possible

Some Lessons Learned
Of course there are a lot of things you can learn when testing. There are even more things you already have learned. Some of the lessons I learned this weekend are just refreshing or confirmations of other valuable lessons.
1. Although information about a single application is required, when testing it together it is a combined answer. You might consider it as single object, when it is tested together with other tools you have to consider their stability also
2. To understand or able to test a part of a object, you need to know the context, in this case about what stability means for the user and not according to the tester.
3. You are not in the position to provide advice, look at the article from Michael Bolton: You can provide information
4. When you are asked as a team, you have to work as a team. Even after short introduction it is hard to get everyone’s attention.
5. Domain knowledge is a prerequisite when it is directly asked by “ the manager”
6. if the manager is not there, find someone in the team with domain knowledge
7. Don’t get distracted by crashes, when they are reproducible, then you can avoid them, if you are still able to use the functionality then, you might earn something with your gig
8. It is easy to forget the lessons learned from previous sessions, The assumption is easily made that every one knows you and how you think. Information which seems to be obvious is often forgotten when acting longer in a project. Perhaps recap some questions? Magic words: FOCUS/DEFOCUS
9. Reminded about the posting of Markus about being blunt or not towards manager:

The discussion part
During the session several questions and suggestions were raised. Information was missing or needed. Some were about the domain knowledge like "what software compressor for music is", "How to communicate with the manager", "acting like a team or not" and so on (you might check the transcript for details)

Also at the end some valuable remarks were made related to "old experience", "skype is not a good tool to use ", "the manager already checked for a tool, why should we check for more functionality", "if the plug-in was the objective, should it be tested alone?", "Are we able to answer the question to provide and advice?"

Looking as a process to the discussion you can also notice some familiar behaviour. We all had a common goal, still we acted like individuals. We try to get information which would be valuable for us at that moment. In my opinion we did not asked what would be valuable for the team. We also tried to do our job good due to the minimum of time and focussed therefore more on ourselves. When you look carefully, there were some persons who tried to become a group and act like a group. Perhaps due to time, differences in experience, differences in testing approach, differences in objectives we did not succeed to act like a team. If you look at the end, we are more explaining what we have done and what the traps are. The focus lied more on "did we succeed the mission". I believe we missed in some part a good lesson: "what did we learn and was it fun?" and also "Which personal lessons can you take to a next session."

What would be more valuable, to meet the mission as an individual or to act as a team, learn from each other and perhaps meet the missions objectives or perhaps change it during and afterwards?
This weekend session was a great one. A mission with an attitude of the manager. A great crowd of testers, a discussion you can learn from. I had a lot of fun and learned old and new lessons.


  1. Awesome Post Jeroen,deep insights written with so much simplicity.


  2. Hello Jassi,
    thanks for your compliments. Keep in mind that it is just a reflection of my experience of weekend testing. It is also because of the other participants that it is a succes.