Sunday, 2 June 2013

Let’s Explore

As I continue my journey towards brainual testing. Here's a snippet on exploratory testing.
I choose to frame this article as a Q & A session as I learnt it from Carsten Feilberg, I thank him for sharing his knowledge. Connect with Carsten here.

SBTM - Session Based Test Management - is a scheme for managing testing by dividing the testing into chunks of time, called sessions.

What is Session Log?
Session Log - the log of the testing carried out in a session of Exploratory Testing.

Where does this term Session Log stem from?
The term session comes from session-based testing.

Is there a minimum and maximum time for session based testing?
Session based testing could be x minutes of uninterrupted time, which is devoted in testing a set mission. The tester can set the max and min time.

Does 3-4 testers together doing testing for a set time qualify for SBTM?
Not necessarily SBTM, but the approach could be same wrt using Session logs and debriefing at the end of the session.

If the mission is to 'Test a login page'
Set the time. 
During that time set focus just on the mission, nothing else. No interruptions in any form, not even meetings ;)
Yes, you can clarify doubts and ask someone - but no interruptions of any kind ideally.

At the end of the estimated time, Debrief.

Debrief with the test manager, fellow tester on what you tested, bugs you found, paths you followed - or didn't and what needs to be done in the next session.

To sum it up: A mission is written, a time slot is set and the tester is off to do it - in the estimated time slot without interruptions.

How many such sessions can be done in a day?
Per day 2-3-4 such sessions*estimated time.

How long or short the duration of these sessions should be?
Not less than 20 minutes and a max of 2 hours.

There is no standard time. These numbers can be arrived based on personal experience.
The trick is, that over time the test team learns pretty well how much of time is needed on specific tasks. And gets better and better at estimating the time slot for various tasks.
And the beauty of SBTM is that the testers debrief often and learn from each other, and share knowledge.
A quick way to grow domain knowledge.
While the testers are doing this (sharing of knowledge) they can change the direction of testing. Venture into other interesting areas of learning and testing if required to be tested.

What does a session log comprise of?
  • Testers own notes of thoughts and ideas with the mission in focus.
  • Date
  • Time
  • The Mission
  • Estimated time
  • Environment
  • Data
  • Platform
  • Version
This is not an exhaustive list but contains important elements only.

How to use the session log to actually work from it?
  • Write down the current time stamp.
  • Note the time and record your observations, what you see, did and achieved.
  • Make a note of what to try next
  • New ideas
  • Observations and
  • Bugs in the session log.
The session can be screen recorded using wink (download it from here)
The time stamp enables to find the screen dump in the wink file, use the wink file to pick data from there.

The session log is the documentation which states what is tested , how and when.

It also serves as a reference point for the tester during the session. To decide whether to follow a certain thread or break off and try some other things mentioned in the mission statement.
The session is the testers own time. The tester is not interfered by any other during this time. How you test and what to do during the session is up-to the tester. How you think provides most information/value. Log bugs in any tool used at your org. Jira, Quality Center, Test Track. 

If the tester decides to log the bugs outside of the session time, then the session log serves as a 'memory' of a bug.
The session log can be taken to the developer and shared if the tester is testing at a stage where bugs need not yet be reported in a formal way. And can be fixed right away.

Get on to twitter and connect with the community of testers to:
  • Learn
  • Share
  • Interact
  • Communicate
  • Network and
  • Learn
There is more to Exploratory Testing. Here are a few links:
  • Carsten Feilberg - EuroSTAR conference - sign up and watch the webinar here on SBTM.
  • What Exploratory Testing is Not at satisfice.com here
  • Michael Bolton 's blog here Created by James Bach, Jonathan Bach, and Michael Bolton.
Exploratory testing is not done outside of a testing phase. If you noticed, you could already be doing exploratory testing.
If you have set out to do it, learn how it's done and do it the way it's done.
  • Add your own ideas.
  • Brainstorm with fellow testers and
  • Share your thoughts.


Happy Exploring!

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