Exploration Through Example

Example-driven development, Agile testing, context-driven testing, Agile programming, Ruby, and other things of interest to Brian Marick
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Mon, 09 Aug 2004

Testing contributions to the Agile Times

I edit the "Testing Tips" section of the Agile Times, the Agile Alliance newsletter. You can find sample copies here:

Issue One
Issue Two
Issue Three
Issue Four

The latest issue is only available to Agile Alliance members.

If you'd like to send a testing-related article to me, please do. Articles are usually short - a few hundred words. I like practical content: "I tried this. You could too." Jeff Patton's and Zhon Johansen's story below would make a swell article.

If it comes before August 25, your article could make it into the next issue, but send articles any time to marick@exampler.com. Expect light and shared editing before publication.


Update: fixed broken link.

## Posted at 21:14 in category /agile [permalink] [top]

An interview

There's an interview with me at whatistesting.com.

I'm rather pleased with this answer:

Q: ... What is your assessment of the impact [the Agile Manifesto] has made?

A: ... the impact? I'm writing this on the plane back from the Agile Development Conference. Do you realize what it's like to talk to people who love their job? Who feel like at last they're allowed to produce at their peak? Without the Agile Manifesto, many people's jobs would be worse.

The emotion behind that answer looms ever larger. Why do I push the Agile methods? One of my two main reasons is the chance to reclaim joy in work.

## Posted at 15:39 in category /misc [permalink] [top]

Out of the side of your eye

A nice story from Jeff Patton, told on the Agile Usability mailing list. Copied with permission.

He was in a very strong XP organization with big investment in unit and acceptance tests. When the acceptance tests ran, the gui popped up and danced around for 15 or 20 minutes as if a really really fast ghost user was running the app. [picture Data on star trek] No one needed to see it, so it often ran on an integration machine in the corner. One day someone who focused on the UI was having a conversation with a developer and caught a view of the acceptance test running out of the corner of their eye. "Hey - that's wrong!" he said. Developer says: "Hmm... it shouldn't be, the acceptance tests pass." UI guy: "No, I saw it as it flashed by, the fields on form X were positioned incorrectly." They went back and checked, and they were indeed wrong.

When I visited their shop acceptance tests were running on any unused machine in the development environment. "We catch errors this way." my friend said. They'd started to rely on people catching things out of the corner of their eye while doing something else. They'd caught several issue this way. Me asking why they did this prompted him to tell this story.

It's amazing to me how fast the eyes and brain can parse a complex image and sense something out of order. For some tasks it's pretty difficult to write code that outperforms the brain.

Update: Jeff queried the original teller, Zhon Johansen, who wrote back. (Copied without permission; don't hurt me, Zhon.)

I liked your telling of the story. Only a couple of differences between the two tellings: 1) Lorin, an AT test writer, noticed the bug; and 2) the bug was a core issue. (We almost had the bug fixed before the ATs finished.)

If Lorin or any of our AT test writers had been concerned with usability, I am sure they would have noticed usability bugs. As this was not an isolated incident, it could easily have happened with usability guy.

It was a beautifully told story with perfect intent.

This isn't quite a Big Visible Chart, but it's something like that.

## Posted at 14:55 in category /testing [permalink] [top]

Workshop reminder: Tests as Documentation

I've posted before about a workshop that Jonathan Kohl and I are doing at XP/Agile Universe titled "Tests as Documentation". If you were planning to come, let me remind you of this: "We encourage anyone working on a software project who writes tests to [...] bring their tests and code with them."

It'd be a good time to start picking some tests to bring. Thanks.

## Posted at 14:54 in category /2004conferences [permalink] [top]

About Brian Marick
I consult mainly on Agile software development, with a special focus on how testing fits in.

Contact me here: marick@exampler.com.




Agile Testing Directions
Tests and examples
Technology-facing programmer support
Business-facing team support
Business-facing product critiques
Technology-facing product critiques
Testers on agile projects

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Working your way out of the automated GUI testing tarpit
  1. Three ways of writing the same test
  2. A test should deduce its setup path
  3. Convert the suite one failure at a time
  4. You should be able to get to any page in one step
  5. Extract fast tests about single pages
  6. Link checking without clicking on links
  7. Workflow tests remain GUI tests
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Design-Driven Test-Driven Design
Creating a test
Making it (barely) run
Views and presenters appear
Hooking up the real GUI


Popular Articles
A roadmap for testing on an agile project: When consulting on testing in Agile projects, I like to call this plan "what I'm biased toward."

Tacit knowledge: Experts often have no theory of their work. They simply perform skillfully.

Process and personality: Every article on methodology implicitly begins "Let's talk about me."


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