Learning from Collaboration

How many of us remember the story of “The Wise Pigeon” from Panchatantra? If you do not here is a quick recap. As in the classic we are all aware of the fact that we could learn, focus, share, deliver, and create magic when we learn and work together. Find below some of the events, forums, exer cises I have been to or involved in which demonstrate the power of learning together and why we should have more such platforms.

Zappers Community

This is one such rare event for testers I am aware of where we “test” and not speak about testing. Isn’t that great? It’s fantabulous.

I was looking forward to this event for quite some time. I had missed the inaugural Zappers event at Bangalore but did not want to miss the second one. The event rules were simple and similar to our weekend testing. An application is handed to each team 5-10 minutes before the testing session. ID’s for the bug tracker is created for each team. One hour is provided to test the application and to log bugs in Bugzilla. The team with maximum verified bugs win. 44590_435718838584_284565268584_5043306_4838087_n

Pradeep Soundararajan and Santhosh Tuppad were my team mates. The testing challenge at Zappers drained the juice off my brain. I still recollect Pradeep cheering us to push ourselves for one more bug at the last minute. The feeling was that of a great workout at the gym – you seem to be tired, drained out but feel that gusto of pushing your body (brain in my case).

Our team had a simple strategy “communicate”. We chose the fastest, clear, easiest way to communicate with one another during our testing session which helped us achieve good test coverage, inspire one another, avoid duplicate bugs, share test ideas and win the competition. HurrayJ! Add to this the free beer, gala dinner, prize money and a chance to meet many more testers.

Why would any tester want to miss it? Beats me.

I thank TCL India for bringing Zappers community to Bangalore and arranging a delightful evening. Thanks again.


Many a times when I have tried my hand at learning a testing tool or a scripting language I have failed. Not because it’s complex but because I lost interest in learning them over a period of time. This was my usual routine - scout the internet for tutorials, blogs, books, forums, etc. Start from chapter 1 and practice for minimum 1hr per day. The first chapter is always exciting, and then comes the second, third, fourth. By the time I reach chapter 9 or 10 I am bored. I then look for quizzes, challenges, exercises to practise my learning’s but most often have failed in looking for such information.

With this experience in mind I did not want to take the same track when I decided to learn Selenium. This time around I pinged a few testers if they were interested to learn Selenium together and got a reply from Swetha Ghorp. She used Selenium at her organisation and was excited to share and learn with the group. Swetha also encouraged me to take up Ruby and talked about the potential of ruby with selenium. This is how the study group LSRG (Learning Selenium & Ruby group) was born.

We (currently only 5 of us Allmas, Kavitha TD, Anand, Swetha and I) meet once a week for an hour or two to decide upon the missions and we meet again the next week to discuss on the progress, challenges traps. There have been high tides and low tides but the study group has helped me to focus on selenium and ruby even when there have been low tides.

Mark Crowther has been instrumental in keeping the excitement at LSRG high with his very helpful guides, tips and plans/rewards for the future.

Want to be part of the LSRG? Email me.

Test Ideas in 30 min

Often we search for test puzzles, challenges, exercises in the internet but fail to identify the numerous test exercises around us. Last week posts in STC on “How to test an alarm clock” – had me thinking – why don’t I put some time and think how I would test an alarm clock? Before I could think of a test scenario I questioned myself how much time shall I allot myself to think of the tests 1hr, 2hr? Shall I do this alone or will 2 testers doing this together double the number of test scenarios? Could we think of better test ideas together?

With these questions in mind I looked at my gtalk and saw Santhosh in available status. Asked him if he is game for a 30 min challenge and the answer was YES. The next 30 minutes was fantastic we shared with each other approx 32 test scenarios. For the metrics lovers – we took 0.93 seconds to think of a test idea. The pdf file is available @ http://tuppad.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/How.pdf

I felt I could use this idea with more testers and so tried this approach with my team at office. The team was astonished with the number and quality of test ideas we could come up with in 30 min for a system we have been testing for couple of months. I plan to extend this idea – will keep you posted more on this may be in the upcoming posts. Until then if any of you want to run a 30 min test idea exercise with me? – email me.


Want to learn a scripting language? What if you had the opportunity to learn with 160 participants from 30 different countries for free? Imagine the kind of discussion a forum such as this could have. Well, I would consider myself very fortunate to have found this link on the internet. I thank Satish Talim for providing us an opportunity to learn in such a big platform.

The courses are conducted in similar to BBST and is very interactive. The code samples each participant paste in forum and the discussions that revolve around it have been brilliant. I have completed the first week of the course and I am looking forward to the next week. I shall definitely write a more detailed experience report after completion of the course.

Until then for those who are spending your precious earned money on bogus training institutes here is a place you could learn a share ruby.

Weekend Testing

In one year Weekend Testing has appeared in many magazines, conferences, blogs, etc. If you are still not part of it or wondering what weekend testing. Head to our site http://weekendtesting.com/

Do you see a pattern in all these events, groups, platforms? The one thing I find in common with all of these is that together we are more successful in learning and delivering as humans. Also I see most of these platforms outside an organization and not within organizations. Is there a specific reason to it? I shall explore about it in my next post but if you have seen such successful platforms within an organisation please email me.

Testing and Biking: Part 3 – Importance of investment

Last week on my way home from office I was cruising at around 80 kmph on my motor bike and then THUD. The next moment I felt severe pain on the left side of my head, my palms felt scalded, and I could not stand properly because my left toe hurt. Got up slowly tried thinking over what happened. The pictures started falling in place and I realized I have met with an accident. I removed my helmet – no bleeding. Good. Next removed the riding gloves – palms looked well. Checked my foot, and my toe was bleeding. I wore a Canvas shoes damn! Tried to lift my bike and it was a mess – a broken mirror, sari guard bent, connecting rod to the rear suspension was cut. Some how managed to ride back home. At home after relaxing a few minutes I started looking at the damage on my helmet and the gloves I wore. The scrapes on my helmet and riding gloves gave me goose bumps. The left side of the helmet was a mess with loads of scratches and when I run my finger over it I could feel the impact the helmet had taken. The gloves well, in simple words I could type today because I wore them. This made me wonder

  • What if I did not wear a helmet?
  • What if I did not wear riding gloves?
  • What if I had invested in a sub-standard helmet or gloves only because it was cheaper?
  • What if I had stopped wearing them because many made fun of me, since I shelled out a good amount of money on it?

Well, I thanked myself for investing in the best riding gear. The investment just saved my life.

Is there some thing here that could this be related to all aspects of our life?

What about testing? …

I remember the day when I wanted to attend Pradeep Soundararajan’s RST workshop but felt the workshop was expensive. I had a feeling that this workshop could change me for good as a tester after interacting with him once over coffee and reading his blog posts. But I come from a middle class family and to shell out 7k for a 1day workshop on testing looked huge to me.

But, today when I look back at the whole episode, I feel happy that my investment in the workshop has fetched me more than I could ever expect from a one day workshop and I am sure the skills developed from it would continue to take me forward in my career.

There are many times when we think if investing our time and hard earned money in a workshop or conference or training or certification worth it. Well we might not know the answer to this the very day or at the end of the workshop but I am sure there would be a day when the skills developed from such events/workshops will be evident.

So go ahead invest on learning and I am sure you will reap the benefits if not today some time in the near future.

Duplicate bugs

At a training session with an agenda to update developers the new changes in the bug tracking tool.

A senior developer: with a cunning tone - Do you also teach how to add duplicate bugs?

Tester: This training is to teach you on how to use the bug tracking tool, we could take the issue of duplicate bugs later.

Senior developer: I feel there should be some validation in place in a bug tracking tool to block testers from logging duplicate bugs. Do we have one in this?

Test Manager: If there are duplicate bugs in the bug tracker, please go ahead and mark it as duplicate and reject it. We shall verify the bug and if it is a duplicate we shall close it.

Senior Developer: No, that is not the point – it is easy to increase the number of bugs by adding duplicate bugs so there should be a strict protocol in place.

Test Manager: You are deviating from the training agenda, lets get thru with the training and we could discuss about it later with the project manger.

After this conversation the test team went thru the bug tracker to analyze the number of bugs marked as duplicate. The number of bugs marked duplicate was 4 for a total number of 250 bugs, i.e., in percentage 1.6%. But, the 3 duplicate bugs of the 4 were all submitted in the same test cycle. On further investigation it was found that two testers have logged the bug almost at the same time and the tester at onsite has also raised the bug for it.

Analyzing each of the bug report logged revealed that the first bug provided good summary, description and a log file was attached to it. The second one also provided all the necessary information, but the steps to reproduce was different when compared to the first bug, also this had a screen shot with the log file attached to the bug report. The third bug which was logged by the tester at onsite also had similar description but the equipment (manufacturer) used to test the scenario was different compared to the one available in the lab at offsite.

Though the bugs were duplicate each bug report provided valuable information about the bug, and this could have surely helped the developer.

Then why was the developer so upset? Well, there could be many reasons to this, but my guess is on the kind of metrics the management team is focusing on.

Anyways, I understand that developers might spend some time reading the information in the bug report, marking it as duplicate and then rejecting it. But, then the developers might also find more information, which in turn might help him fix the bug faster. On the contrary if a tester has to go thru all bugs logged in the database just to find out if a certain bug already exists, how much time is required?

To me the time required for a tester to look for duplicate bugs is much more when compared to the time spent by the developer in marking it as duplicate. Also, a tester could use the time to hunt for new bugs rather than scouting for an existing bug.

What do you feel?

BWST – A testers only workshop

There are many reasons why BWST is very close to me. To start off with

  • BWST was started by my guru Pradeep Soundararajan.
  • BWST is a true tester’s meet/conference/workshop organized by the testers for the testers. There is no boring, to fill in presentations or business angle to it.
  • BWST is one such meet which almost any tester could afford to participate.
  • BWST uses k-cards which provide an opportunity for all attendees to share their thoughts with the presenter.
  • BWST is for testers from all ages, experience, designations, geographical locations, etc.

And the list goes on.

Right from the day Pradeep announced BWST-2 on his blog, I had the date marked in my calendar. But as the date to BWST-2 got closer, my schedule at office went haywire. We were working late nights, weekends, holidays. My doubts on attending the BWST-2 grew with each passing day. At some corner of my mind I still felt I might just make it but then every email at office narrowed my chances.

2 days before BWST-2 - I sent an email to Pradeep and Santosh on my current situation and expressing my doubts on attending the BWST-2. I felt miserable as well as annoyed at myself at the thought of not attending BWST-2. As I expressed earlier BWST is very dear to me since there is no such workshop in Bangalore (I am aware of), which could provide so many takeaways for a tester in a day.

Friday a day before BWST 2 - At office I was on a mission to attend BWST-2 the next morning and my team mates wanted their weekend. We were hunters who had not tasted meat for a while now (build postponed again and again). We had clear missions on what to look for and targeted the areas we felt at risk based on the communication we had with our developers and customers.

Friday night - Smsd Pradeep at around 9pm confirming my participation at BWST-2, we had succeeded in our mission. We found very important information which required a lot of effort from our dev team J

Today when I write this post I ask myself was BWST-2 worth it?

I might kill myself for asking this question. Hell YES!

BWST-2 exceeded my expectations from what I had from BWST-1. Check the posts from Parimala and Pradeep on the various presentations and discussions that went on.

I present you the interesting quotes/questions/comments from BWST-2.

Testers talk a different language neither English nor some other language.

If your estimation is right, you might be wrong.

When we say “good things done” its “good things” for “us”.

Go to Gemba.

Your estimate depends on the quality you want.

Are 33 diseases in a human body good enough to be healthy?

Notion of finding vs notion of fixing.

Severity of the bug varies on the context.

3-strikes out – if the product can live with the bugs after 3 strikes, that’s ok to not fix them.

How can we scientifically conclude that a part of application is hardened?

Measurements are good but what is your goal?

No time to analyze the result after automation.

Define metrics which are relevant to individual projects.

Nodding heads for yes or no - Indian style.

Noun and Verb, Q-patterns, unified test design techniques.

Years of Experience in hours.

A reply, that grew long.

I wanted to post this as a reply to the blog post “I know you'd have a test case for this !!!” by Ajay, but since the reply grew long, I posted it on my blog.

I agree with James Bach stating that this is a platform issue. It’s very clear that the issue reported here is more to do with the platform than the application itself.

This makes me wonder why Windows XP was chosen to run such an application. There could have been many reasons like ease of compatibility, familiarity, db connectivity, interoperability, ease of development, etc. However one needs to keep in mind that Win XP is not designed to just run in the background, it is an end-user interface for applications. So, Win XP should have been customized to meet the needs of deployment.

Now let me try answering the questions posted in the blog.

  • Is it a bug? How risky is it to ignore such messages?
    • If I go by the definition used by James and Michael “A bug is something that bugs somebody who matters” – yes I would call it a bug.
  • How risky could this be
    • Well, if there is a 24/7 support answering the travellers queries I do not feel it is risky, since the affected traveller could get their query answered, also knowing this balloon from Win XP, it hides after 10s or so, I do not feel it a very risky bug.
  • Is the purpose of the display served?
    • Yes, the purpose of display is definitely served, if there is a pop-up marginally blocking the display for a few seconds, I would not go to the extent of questioning the display. I agree that there could be % of customers who might be annoyed, but definitely the display is served.
  • If the overlapping of the message on the display is a bug, will you fix it?
    • To me this is a redundant question apart from “will you fix it” part. Will I fix it – since this issue could be resolved by disabling the informative balloons in Win XP, I would fix it. The cost to fix it very low, so I guess it could be a straight forward decision.
  • What if it is not fixed?
    • If it’s not fixed, it might continue to annoy a % of users.
  • Which tester will think of these kinds of tests?
    • It’s interesting how everything and anything boils down to a tester, may be because he is the one who touches the product last before it’s shipped. I feel issues like this could be minimized when the engineers (dev & testers & deployment) have enough domain knowledge or aware of the deployment or know their exact mission. This check might be of highest priority in the checklist for engineers from SCADA or HMI domain (Well, they might have a test case for this:).
  • Do you wear the hat of a non-tester and say: Hmmm, there is a workaround. I'll not fix it.
    • Who is a non-tester in this context?
  • I do not know how to fix it.
    • Are you kidding me? :)
  • It might be a bug but it is a limitation of the technology. [Cannot fix]
    • WHT? I seriously have no words to say.

On further scouting for similar information over the web, I came across this very informative link on how to turn Win XP to a HMI platform. In the article author writes about different parameters such as performance, security, disabling un-wanted balloons to make Win XP suitable for HMI platform.

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