Experiences at EuroSTAR 2012 (part 3)

So now my experiences at Thursday, the final day of EuroSTAR 2012. See my other posts for the Tuesday and Wednesday experiences.

What Agile Teams Can Learn From World of Warcraft – Alexandra Schladebeck

As I am a World of Warcraft (WoW) player myself and a great fan of Agile, the title alone was enough for me to decide to attend this presentation. Alexandra has done a great job in pointing out the parallels between WoW and Agile, not only the benefits, but also the pitfalls. WoW is a massive multiplayer online role-playing game. As in all role-playing games, we see different races, classes and professions for our characters. Each combination will have its own set of skills, when characters form groups to be able to complete dungeons, they need characters with different skills on board.  Sounds familiar if you think of multidisciplinary teams right?  A team of individuals working together to achieve a common goal… When we go one step bigger and we set our goal even higher, we can do raids in WoW. When we try to do such a project, we need several teams that work together.

Wow & Agile

When these WoW teams start their quests, they need to do some planning. In this process the teams need to estimate what the harder parts will be and who will be responsible for which tasks. The proper equipment for the specific quest needs to be put in place and they all need to work together. For the communication most groups use a tool named teamspeak.  However in some points WoW is easier, since we can use dragons for fast transportation and portals to get all the people easily at the same place.

The slide on what to learn was really interesting and therefore I added it to this post (click on it to see a larger version). Additional it is important to learn to do more that just your specialization. Just keep working in teams fun, this is applicable for both WoW and Agile teams. And finally learn to rely on your team, since you can’t kill the boss on your own 😉

Testing the API Behind a Mobile App – Marc van ‘t Veer

Polteq was happy enough to have my colleague Marc also selected with his presentation on testing an API. Marc used all his experience at T-Mobile to guide us through testing an API. He started off by explaining why T-Mobile wanted an API behind the mobile Apps. Since T-Mobile has a place where you as a customer can log in and see your calling and texting bundles. A lot of  independent App creators created App that allowed T-Mobile users to do this via their mobile phones by using screen scrapers to get the information to display. Whenever the App malfunctions – broken or incorrect data – the users blame T-Mobile for this. Even worse, the App creators also point a finger towards T-Mobile. So T-Mobile decided to decouple the content and make App creators use the API to get the content. This allowed T-Mobile to be more in control of the data and the meaning of the data.

So how to test an API? Marc starts off by showing us some risks involved with API’s:

  • It’s impossible to know up front how the API will integrate with the external Apps
  • There is a big variation in the data that will be provided by the API
  • There is no full control on the end-to-end process
  • The API may be used incorrectly

To be able to do early integration testing, T-Mobile used a prototype App and used dogfooding during development and system test. An adapter was created to let the API communicate with the back-end, so integration with T-Mobile’s back-end could be tested. This adapter also served the My T-Mobile pages, so the data on these pages could serve as an oracle for the data in the App. In testing they noticed that caching was not properly working. Since at first a single security key was used for all users. So when testing an API, make sure that you test with different users that have different authorizations. Another defect that showed, was that the HTTP-Statuses were not informative enough for the App. The API then was edited to supply extra information, so the application could provide the right information to its users. The T-Mobile data provided some difficulties of itself, since there are multiple types of bundles and each bundles has a maximum number of units that can be used. However the tag was used for different entities. One time it meant minutes, the other time it was a number that showed the number of text messages you had left or a combination of these two.

To test the API, the testers needed a lot more technical skills, since testing involved a lot of command line functionality. To actually test the API properly, automated regression testing in production was needed. Do not forget to apply the testing techniques that have proven to be valuable over the years in this new context.

In the end a good API was introduced, but people still see T-Mobile as responsible when an App malfunctions.

The testlab – Bart Knaack

The testlab cannot be absent in my experiences. How great is it to actually do some testing at a testing conference! In addition to the website and application testing, this year we got to play with Lego Mindstorms 😀 The first task was to find out what the provided car would do. It used a light sensor to read different colors and when it read the color it would do an action based on the color. After determining the actions that relate to the colors it was our tasks to see if these would hold. Of course there were bugs present! I don’t want to spoil the fun for future use of the Mindstorms for testlabs, so I won’t mention the bugs here. As you can see on the image, I earned the “I logged my bug in the testlab”-button. As simple as the reward seems, I made me happy and delivered a smile when I received it.

Testlab buttons

Testing in China

ChinaTest 2012Last 9 days I’ve been in Shanghai together with Martin Pol for Polteq. Luckily the typhoon didn’t reach the part of Shanghai we were in, we had some wind and rain, but nothing to extreme. We’ve presented some tutorials and tracks at ChinaTest 2012, but also needed to visit a couple of companies to talk about testing. So there was a lot to do in very little time. At one company you speak with a selected group of a couple of people, where at other companies you have a room filled with about a hundred people and a video connection to other offices where also a hundred people are attending our presentation on testing. No matter what the setting was, we would get a lot of questions, since everyone wanted to learn as much as they could from our visit. This was also the case for the conference.

Together we presented a full day tutorial on structured testing. It was great to notice how people at first were a bit hesitant to ask question, but during the day dared more and more. Some concepts that require little explanation in Europe, required more in China and the other way around too. The next day of the conference Martin had one half day tutorial on compact test process improvement and I had two half day tutorials. Both of my tutorials dealt with Agile testing. The first one was on how to work as a tester in scrum teams. At some parts of the tutorial I had groups of people discuss together on some topic and then present their findings to the whole group. Usually I can follow what people talk about and try to guide them a bit in the direction I want them to think, but my Chinese is not good enough to understand the discussions 😉 So I just had to trust that they were talking about the topics I wanted them to. When we started discussing about the topics in English it became clear that they did. The other tutorial was on how to improve testing in Agile (mostly scrum) settings. What struck me was that most questions dealt with automation and tools and not the actual job of testing.

The third day of the conference started with key notes from Martin Pol and Richard Bender. After these keynotes we had to do some more company visits. The last day of the conference we both needed to do some presentations. I presented on how to test mobile apps and on the Polteq approach for testing cloud computing: Cloutest. Both of these topics proved to be very popular! Martin presented on outsourcing for a crowd that seemed to grow during the presentation. The conference ended with a set of lighting talks, where Martin told that we need to save the testing skills and I provided some fast insight into Agile.

Usually I try to provide some information on the different presentations I attended at a conference, but since these were all in Chinese there is not much that I can say about them.

I’d like to thank the organizing committee for a great conference and hope to be able to come back for the 2013 edition!

Presented at Eurostar 2011

EuroSTAR 2011

While in China for Polteq, I wrote a submission for EuroSTAR 2011. The conference theme was “In the pursuit of quality” so I decided to go for a less explored subject “How To Test Mobile Applications”. At the start of April I received an e-mail from the conference stating:

We are delighted to inform you have secured a speaking slot at the 2011 EuroSTAR Conference and we look forward to meeting you in Manchester later in the year.

So I got lucky enough to have my first submission to EuroSTAR accepted 🙂 The next months were needed to slowly build up the presentation (which also got accepted for Testnet).

Tuesday the 22st of November we went to Manchester. The mist cancelled some flights, but our flight only had a delay of about 20 minutes. The first day we missed out on some presentations due to a slow restaurant, but I was able to hear Gojko Adzic speak about “Death To The Testing Phase”. The main things I got from this presentation were that it is important to visualise quality and to apply post release testing. My colleague Kees Blokland was all day preparing for his presentation the next day.

In the evening Dorien and I went to visit the local Christmas market. We were surprised to see a lot of Dutch stands there, supplying Dutch cheese, Dutch mini pancakes and more. The touristic route (read: we got a bit lost) back to the hotel took a while, but we saw some nice parts of Manchester.

Wednesday I got to see more of the presentations. The day started with a keynote of James Whittaker: “Pursuing Quality? You Won’t Get There By Testing”. The story proved to be good, but only applicable to large companies. Smaller companies can’t just use thousands of people to perform some beta testing like Google can…

Next I went to one of the short tracks where Martin Mussmann told us about “Mind Maps As Part Of The Agile Testing Process”. In the high change rate that he has to work in, mind maps proved to be a nice way to show the backlog items and connect test ideas to them. By describing only what to test and not how to do it, these maps could be used as a help in talking to both the business as the developers.

I just had to attend Kees’ presentation about “Chasing Quality In Cloud Computing – Testing Different Levels Of Quality Requirements”. He showed us that using the cloud incorporates different types of risks that need to be mitigated. Of course the obvious ones like performance, security and functionality, but also new risks in the area of legislation and regulations and suppliers. After describing the risks he also described test measures to be taken. Ending with a description of the broader role of the test manager which needs involvement in selection, implementation and operation of cloud services.

Since automation is one of the topics I like, I also went to Julian Harty who introduces us to “Pushing The Boundaries Of User Experience Test Automation”. He provided some nice examples of automatable user experience tests. Not everyone can (or will) use the mouse to navigate through websites, so tabbing and hotkeys should also be tested. We accept that the number of steps needed to perform a task by using the keyboard is more than with using the mouse, but there are limits. So also the number of tabs needed to return to the same point on a page should be limited, which can automatically be validated.

The closing keynote of wednesday was Daryl Elfield with “Power to the People – Achieve Fast, Sustainable Change in Quality by Harnessing the Crowd”. He gave nice examples of how communities within the organisation not only provided ideas for change, but also created the footage to actually perform the change. So by giving power to the employees, the commitment to the company increased.

In the evening our friends from Hauwei invited us to eat with them in Chinatown. It was really nice to have some decent Chinese food again 🙂 We went for hot pot! I chose the spicy one, but was uncertain of my choice when two out of three Chinese took the normal while saying that spicy was too spicy for them. The first couple of bites were extremely spice, but I got used to the taste and had a great dinner.

Thursday started with Ben Walters’ keynote “Create Customer Value with Agile Testing”. I know I visited this keynote, but can’t remember much of it. Probably I was too busy with preparing for my own presentation this day.

I attended the presentation previous to mine by John Montgomery “What The Top 10 Most Disruptive Technology Trends Mean For QA And Testing”. He described a nice list of disruptive trends like agile, cloud and mobile, but in my eyes lacked to really show what it meant for testing.

Then finally my debut on the big stage with “How To Test HearMeSpeakEuroSTAR2011Mobile Applications” 😉 A quick count showed more than 100 people in the audience, a new record since my 30 people audience at Testnet. I provided a road map for building mobile applications. Testing needs to be aware of store requirements, next to the normal business and user requirements. Another important part is that the impact of the app on the features provided by the phone and vice versa need to be tested. It would be a pity if the phone wasn’t able to receive calls while using an app… After my presentation I had quite a lot chats with people that had attended and wanted to know more.

My state of mind didn’t allow me to take in any information after my presentation, so I took the rest of the afternoon strolling around the Expo. At the end of the afternoon we flew back home. I have really enjoyed my first visit to EuroSTAR and saw good presentations. I hope to attend again next year in Amsterdam.

Presented at the Testnet fall event

TestnetYesterday I attended the Testnet Fall Event. It proved to be an interesting as well as a fun day! For the morning sessions I chose to attend an interactive session about “The future of testing”. The session started with a couple of Pecha Kuchas giving the presenters views on the future. After the last Pecha Kucha the audience could pick the presenter with whom they wanted to discuss a bit more. Since I liked the presentation about people the best, I ended up with Huib Schoots. We got into a discussion about training and skills needed by people. The thing I best remember is: you need to take control of what you want to learn and not wait until others suggest training. The next part of the morning session dealt with personas, defined by the presenters, which could exist in the future of testing. Again in little groups, the personas got more depth by adding why people chose a certain persona. The last part of the, in my eyes very successful, workshop existed of putting sticky notes with comments to other personas than you chosen one. Providing extra questions and room to motivate the personas better.

Next up was a keynote by a non-tester, Stefan Tilkov. He managed to give a clear description of the cloud and in the end provided some pointers to testing. The rest of the day existed of lots of presentations to choose from. I attended a couple and have learned new views on the world of testing, providing me with a lot of food for thought.

The last session of presentations contained my own presentation about “How to test an APP”. I expected only a few people, since my time slot was at the end of the day. That turned out differently when about 30 people joined my session. The audience was great! Interested and asking lots of questions.

Between all sessions there was enough time to talk to friends and meet new people. All the ingredients for a great day! Thanks to Testnet for facilitating this great event!