Time Isn’t Something I Can Afford To Waste!

Good day, my dear reader! As I continue my education in Software Quality Assurance, I continue to read blogs and keep finding myself reading a blog about how to do one particular topic, or how to test in one specific method. Now those reads were all good and useful but one particular article caught my attention, “5 Reasons you are wasting your testing time“. Now I will admit, I did succumb to the very obviously clickbait title but, this was one title I am glad that I followed. In class, there is a lot to learn but some things are best learned on the job or get glanced over or forgotten in the classroom. This particular blog was about 5 ways to review your testing time and see where you are wasting yours.

The first way is not setting a clear goal. Establish a goal for the testing session and ensure that by the end of your testing session, the goal has been met. The second way is that you might not understand the value of the tested feature to the end user. This is saying that, while we are tasked to test a feature we should keep in mind if this feature actually is useful or helpful to the end user. The third way is that one doesn’t keep track of what was tested and your finding. This boils down to that you need to be able to adapt your tests as you are testing. Fourth is not consulting existing information to get testing insights. The last reason is refusing to do post-test reviews or feedback sessions.

The first thing that popped out to me is the consideration for the end user. This is definitely something that is not talked about in class. It’s something I keep running across and I hope I can keep it in mind as I head out into the job market. The end goal is to create a usable, program that an end user will actually use or purchase. The next thing that jumped out at me is that some testers, “…who say they consciously prefer not to see the previous test-runs or the bugs found in an area of the system in order to avoid any bias towards those areas during their current testing session.” I found this kind of silly that some people see testing a program like a clinical double-blind study. When I hear testing, I think of video game testers effectively ramming their heads against a particular part of a game until it breaks or they do. While I doubt I will ever have this mindset, it’s always good to know what to avoid. The last thing that caught me was that testing, “While at the same time it is an art, as you need to (almost instinctively) know how to adapt and change your testing based on actual stuff you find along the way.” This caught me off guard admittedly. Testing does seem dynamic to me but not in that sense of having to change the nature of a test mid-session. This is something that I will have to remember and try to put into practice out in the field.

Thus ends another blog and another week of discovery and learning. I can only wonder what I will learn next week and I am definitely excited to find out. Until then, have a good night folks!

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Round Earth, Round Testing

As class has progressed this semester, we have learned several testing methods and strategies. While perusing the internet, I found another intriguing test strategy not discussed in class called the Round Earth Test Strategy. This testing strategy turns the test automation pyramid on its head by adding spheres to the triangle.

At the core of these spheres is the Earth, that classic blue sphere we all know and love. We then add concentric spheres around the Earth sphere representing the different levels of testing. Add in some static and dynamic elements such as data and from this we can then take a big slice and lay it out, giving us our Round Earth Test Strategy. One will notice that it does, in fact, turn the test automation pyramid on its head as the base of the triangle is now on top. This maintains that during testing our attention must be towards the surface and the user experience. It also takes our attention away from the lower part of the pyramid which represents the lowest level of the technology, something we rarely test or even can test for that matter. The Round Earth analogy lends itself to good analogies and to deep reasoning as the analogy greases the mental wheels gets the gears turning. The presence of data in the test strategy reminds the testers about data and the model can show testing problems that can occur at multiple levels. Lastly, the model reminds the testers about testability.

The first thing that struck me about this model is that it keeps the user in the forefront of the testing. The author reminds the reader that the worst person to test a program is the developer themselves. The “curse of expertise” puts the developer in the “underground” of the model while the users are living on the surface of the model, a different world compared to the world the developers are in.

Another interesting thing that struck me was that the model puts an emphasis on data. Just recently, in class, we did some work with a half-finished program and tested it using dummy data. What strikes me was that while testing there was little to no concern for what the data actually meant and we only cared in the program compiled and passed the tests, and the Round Earth method puts emphasis towards that data.

The last bit that struck me was that this model lends itself well to the analogy and that makes it easier for people to understand. While this isn’t necessarily helpful for a good model it is always helpful when trying to explain it to your colleagues for a second opinion!

Keep Software Design Simple

Good day my dear reader! With it being quite deep in the semester now, one can correctly assume that I have learned quite a bit regarding Software Design and I have. With all this new information, I read an article that has helped me put all of it in perspective. This article was Simplicity in Software Design: KISS, YAGNI, and Occam’s Razor from the Effective Software Design blog.

This particular blog post is all about keeping your software design simple and details three different design principles to keep in mind while designing software and the effects of making a design too complex and conversely too simplistic.

The first principle is, “Keep it simple, stupid” more commonly known as KISS heralding that keeping designs simpler is a key to a successful design.

“The KISS principle states that most systems work best if they are kept simple rather than made complex; therefore simplicity should be a key goal in design and unnecessary complexity should be avoided.”

The next principle is, “You Aren’t Gonna Need It” or YAGNI stating that functionality should be added only when it is actually needed and not before.

The last principle is Occam’s Razor, saying that when creating a design, we should avoid basing our designs in our own assumptions.

Not following these principles can result in complex designs that lead to feature creep, software bloat, and over-engineering. It could alternatively result in oversimplification where the design is too simplistic. This could lead to trouble down the line in areas such as maintainability, extensibility, and reusability.

Reading this blog post, made me sit back and think about my previous programming assignments. Looking back, my programs have been indeed, overly complex. A great quote provided in the blog post is from Brian Kernighan.

“Debugging is twice as hard as writing the code in the first place. Therefore, if you write the code as cleverly as possible, you are, by definition, not smart enough to debug it.”

This gave me a good chuckle and is something I can definitely agree with and have done in the past. I will admit, that I had never considered the consequences of oversimplification. When the majority of your programs are single use for a specific scenario, you never really have to consider the consequences outside of getting the program done. An excellent quote provided by the author in the blog is from Albert Einstein.

“Keep it simple, as simple as possible, but not simpler.”

I completely agree with the author here that this quote expresses the danger of simplistic design that must be considered. It is easier to make things too simplistic rather than hitting the sweet spot of as simple as it needs to be.

This article will be one that I intend to keep in mind whenever I sit down to start a new programming project, especially as class projects start to roll up this time of the semester and I do believe that simple software design will greatly improve any designs that I come up with, keeping KISS, YAGNI, and Occam’s Razor in mind.