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, 04 Jul 2005

Amplifying your effectiveness

I'll be leading two half-day hands-on sessions at the Amplifying Your Effectiveness conference (November 6-9, Phoenix Arizona, USA). The titles of my sessions bear witness to my belief that I'm no expert in my topics---but I do expect that collectively we can get somewhere good.

An Amateur's Guide to Communicating Requirements

We're all familiar with traditional requirements gathering: interview and observe a subset of users, then try to write clear, unambiguous, complete, and testable statements of their requirements. Many of us have tried hard to do that and failed. From that, some of us conclude that we should try harder and smarter. I conclude that the whole idea is broken. You not only can't write precise statements in here that represent the world out there, you can't even come close enough.

In this session, I hope to convince you that my claim is at least plausible. The next question is: "And then what?" We'll start to explore ways of putting ourselves in situations where we can create better systems without being able to specify requirements.


  • Flaws with the default model.
  • At least one technique that doesn't depend on the default model.
  • The merits of practice vs. observation.
Another Amateur's Guide to Communicating Requirements

Since Plato, at least, we've been talking about creating mental models of the world. We usually think of them as like pictures, where everything you can point to in the picture matches something in the world. What if that kind of mental mode is mostly beside the point?

Using exercises, we'll ask two questions: What if the power of a mental model isn't inherent in the model itself, but in the way you explain it to someone else? And what if model-building is powerful when it builds on our expertise, as social animals, at predicting what actions will make someone smile?

This session is related to An Amateur's Guide to Communicating Requirements. It's not necessary to attend both sessions.

Key points:

  • You can explain many things using examples and not much more.
  • We extrapolate better about specific people than about abstractions.

## Posted at 21:02 in category /misc [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
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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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