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Graham Thomas -10 Great but now Overlooked Tools- Webinar Review

  • 28/05/2013
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  • Posted by EuroSTAR

Below is a live blog by Mauri Edo which was written during Graham Thomas’ webinar – ’10 Great But Now Overlooked Tools’ from Tuesday, 28th May.

The recording of this webinar will be available in the EuroSTAR Webinar Archive soon.

Software testing is a rich and complex process, and there are several things that can enhance it. One of these things are tools, a very interesting field for testers and the topic of the webinar offered by Graham Thomas in this May Webinar Series by EuroSTAR , specifically questioning with subtle humor if our approach with tools is actually right: Are we overlooking something that is still useful? Are we paying attention to something that should be overlooked?

We are surrounded by tools nowadays, and we are much better now than some years ago in aspects like productivity, platform integration, storage… But there is still people struggling with the basics, ignoring and overlooking useful tools, and probably this happens because tools evolve faster than our ability to understand and assimilate them.

The 10 tools that Graham calls overlooked are the following:

● Flowcharts
● Prototypes
● Project plans
● Mind maps
● Stuff that is already there (productivity aids like skype, twitter, MS oneNote…)
● Aptitude tests
● Hexadecimal calculators
● Desk checking
● Data dictionaries
● Workbenches

Instead of entering in each one and summarising what the presenter said, let me focus on a tremendous idea that remained hidden in plain sight during the webinar: Are we doing software development right? Have we overlooked some of the aforementioned tools not because they weren’t useful, but because they did not fit in today’s development cycle and its average speed? Here you have three samples of this theory provided by today’s host:


Prototypes were used to show “how things will look like” to the stakeholders before doing any damage. This was a great tool to perform early usability testing and get things right before start coding. Nowadays, it seems that development cycles have to be so fast that nobody has time to prototype, and therefore, to worry about usability before it’s too late.


Project plans

Good ol’ project plans are much more than MS Excel sheets and Power Point documents, as they included scheduling, dependencies, resources and effort allocation… Why have we set professional project plans aside? Certainly it is not because we can deliver on time, on budget, and on quality. Is it because we have the urge to “do” stuff and have no time to “plan” of doing it maybe?


Desk checking

For those that do not know what this is about, Graham refers to debugging code in paper, in your desk. Sounds terrible, right? We don’t like debugging anymore, it is seen as a tedious task and it tends to be redundant, as we have collaborative code reviews, unit tests, manual and automated testing that can catch code issues, but… Are we looking at this the other way round? Right now it is quicker to make mistakes and fix them than to avoid making them in the first place, and this is partly because of tools, but is this a good thing? Does it have to be this way?

The final part of the webinar referred to “stuff we should do away with” and Graham mentioned the “don’t do that do this” sort of speech held by some “experts” pointing that, even though a critical review is always valuable, we should make up our minds and have our own opinions as well. This was the icing of the cake for this webinar in my opinion, as linked perfectly with this subtle message regarding the overwhelming amount of tools that surround us (and confuse us) at the present time: this hasn’t been a webinar on “you HAVE to use this overlooked tools” but more a “are you sure you didn’t overlook these tools because everybody did?”

Fantastic webinar on testing tools that has not been about tools at all but about the philosophy of change and evolution and how do we humans understand it. Thanks Graham and all the attendees for a fantastic session!


Mauri Edo is a self-made testing professional currently working as a QA Manager at Netquest, a firm specialised in on-line market research services, from Barcelona to the world. Always ready to discover new things, Mauri is a huge defender of continuous learning, knowledge sharing and testing conversations. You can find him on Twitter as @Mauri_Edo and blogging at (Spanish) and at the Software Testing Club (English)

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