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Agile Testing Days in Berlin: Day 1, Tutorials.

  • 05/10/2010
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  • Posted by EuroSTAR

This year I hadn’t just travelled to Berlin to attend the conference and do a presentation. My colleague Anko Tijman and myself also did a tutorial together. For lack of a better name, we had translated the title of our book: ‘Testing2.0 – agile testing in practice’. (As it stands, work is still underway for the English version. Progress is a bit slow, because of other projects.)

Arriving at the tutorial, we saw that there were 9 names on the list of participants. It was a rather diverse crowd, not just testers, but also three developers and a scrum master. Some had 3 to 5 years of experience testing in agile projects, whereas others were in organisations transitioning towards agile.

At the beginning we took an inventory of the participants’ expectations. Some aligned well with our material, covering broad topics such as the role of the agile tester on the team, or how to engage the customer to participate (more) in the process. But there were also 3 people who would like to learn more about synchronising the testing and development effort in projects involving multiple teams.
True leaders don’t use Powerpoint, so I tried to answer the team synchronisation questions with just a few scribbles on a flipover, a good story, and a reference to a book. What I think is a masterpiece and a must read for anyone involved in agile projects, is “ Succeeding with agile” by Mike Cohn.

Near the end, I goofed up on a demonstration. On Sunday, I had spent hours getting a FitNesse example to work, complete with a java project and an ant build script to produce a .jar file for the fixture. I showed how I used a Pairwise testing tool (by James Bach) to generate a compact set of testcases. An example with 4*4*3*3*2 = 288 permutations was fed into the tool, resulting in 18 test cases. At the bottom of the table, there were 3 invalid testcases and 3 cases that didn’t add much, so I only pasted the top 12 testcases back into my Excel sheet.

Reducing the number of test cases was a goal in itself. Imagine having to ask the customer to discuss your test scenarios, so that he or she can tell you the desirable outcome. At 12 testcases that’s okay, at 288 testcases the customer will probably refuse to cooperate until you have done your homework. I knew that there was something wrong when I saw a message like “Updating to a newer version of FitNesse.”. A few minutes later, my test page was gone, the site having been rebuilt from scratch. I could still use and demonstrate the “Spreadsheet to FitNesse” button, but of course I could no longer show the rest of the story. All but 1 of the 12 tests should have been
red, until I would activate the missing pieces of the code. If that had worked, I could even have shown my Eclipse project with the Java code. Although the problem was a fairly simple one, it still required a fair amount of code. And a good deal of collaborative effort to make it work. I still believe I got that part of the message across.

With a brief look at the evaluation forms, and the reactions I got from the crowd, I think the audience was satisfied with the results, even though many would have like more ‘testing content’ and less about agile in general. I think for a futute tutorial, I’d want to narrow down the scope a bit, and delve into topics like Exploratory Testing, or Acceptance Testing (ATDD).

Dinner and games
Last year, Jose Diaz had taken us to a really great place for the Speaker’s Dinner. Again, we were transported in a big bus, which was only barely big enough this time. The food was good and the wine was fine, but what it made it all worthwhile was the people at the table. It was very nice to see Elisabeth Hendrickson introduce a simple game with dice – green, red, and yellow, representing safe and faulty check-ins -, and how the rules of the game evolved into a cooperative one.

Busy, busy, busy
I was unable to make new blog posts for more than 3 weeks due to other priorities. One story which I had started to write as a possible blog post, ended up as an article for Agile Record .
The Agile Testing Days here in Berlin are 4 days, Oct 4-7. I most definitely want to blog on a daily basis during the conference. My only impediment is that my presentation for Wednesday isn’t finished yet. At the speaker’s dinner, it was refreshing to hear that three of the people around me – keynote speakers – also still needed to complete their story, or wanted to incorporate some new ideas. You never stop learning, and if you feel the calling to speak up or write, to share your experiences, you will never lose the Passion to do so.

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