There was a testing event I attended recently. Although the event went fine (apart from 10 power failures), I still have a couple of things on my mind.
First, the theory part where ‘exploratory testing’ was introduced. Secondly, what happened during testing and how useful it was.
The way Exploratory Testing was presented was actually concentrating mostly on the exploration-testing style, rather than the whole idea of how to approach testing. It was based on not-perfect understanding of the ET and the best way to overcome that is to read (and understand) this post.
Apart from specifics, I’d like to add that, ET is not only about testing any product rapidly (and efficiently), but also about how to analyze the skills in testing, how to talk about testing and how to teach testing. Everyone is doing ET to some degree, but in order to get very good at testing you need to know how and why you are doing anything. It is easier to be good tester in the project(platform/environment) you have worked for years, but real testing skills comes out when you can be the best in any situation you happen to step in.
It’s like driving a car. Anyone can do it at some level, but getting to be the best (race) driver needs a lot of work and understanding of necessary skills involved in that. You cannot get better at something you do not really understand.
The ‘paired testing’
The product under test was product still in development, none of us were familiar with it. Luckily, it was easy enough to understand the idea and functionality – and complex enough for creating huge areas for testing. All the testers there have been in the field for a while and I’d say roughly on the same level in regards of testing this web-app.
Sure we found bugs, more and less serious, and the developers got their feedback and we had our fun. But, my question is: was the ‘pairing up’ useful?
I’m actually not so sure. As I see it, pairing up helps the most when one tester knows more and can then share the knowledge through cooperation. It is very good and intense way for learning, either the product (read this) or some testing skills. But as we were almost equal in both regards then it might have been more useful for the developers if we all had done it on our own. Especially as we did not have enough time to try out all of the ideas we had.
I think in that situation the pairing was more useful from the social side, we got to know each other a bit better, but not for developers who could have had a lot more data to work with.
Overall, the event was fine, there could be more like it. Sort of like Test Camp, and it is much more engaging when the developer of the application is there to answer questions. Another useful note is to make sure the infrastructure is robust enough as few testers can put quite a strain on any system.