Earlier today Weekend Testing ANZ was re-ignited. A global group of 19 tester came together to test, share and learn. It was a truly amazing experience.
It was my first time facilitating a Weekend Testing session, so I was nervous to say the least. I was unsure if anyone was going to turn up at all, and if anyone did, if the session was going to be productive and worth while. It was at the forefront of my mind that the session happens on the weekend, and people have lots of things to do and places to be and they were all choosing to be here – so the minimum I could do was to put up a fun session for those who chose to give up 2 hours of their weekend to be here.
A lot of planning went into it. I started thinking about mission, charters and applications over one month in advance. I had the help of many experienced testers in the planning stages, which helped tremendously. Special mention to Michael Larsen the founder of Weekend Testing Americas who is experienced in facilitating Weekend Testing sessions and guided me through the whole process.
There were many others who provided encouragement and support, and there were a lot of people twitting about the session, which helped the attendance too! Thanks to everyone who one way or another helped make this session happen!
ANATOMY OF A WT SESSION
For those who don’t know what Weekend Testing is, it is a global community of testers that get together over Skype, mainly on weekends to test, practice exploratory testing, share their knowledge and learn from others. The typical structure of a Weekend Testing session is as follows:
- 5 min introduction
- 10 min setting the mission and charter(s)
- 50 min testing
- 50 min debriefing
During the Testing stage, participants follow the mission and charter and test the application. Testing can be done individually or in pairs in separate chat sessions over Skype. Questions are asked, defects reported and discussion begin to emerge.
At the Debriefing stage, participants discuss their findings with the mission/charter in mind.
For this session the mission/charter was testing www.mail.com using Oracles. As we didn’t have test cases, formal requirements or any other information deemed necessary by some to perform testing, the focus was to use Oracles to help in identifying issues and guide the test.
As defined by Michael Bolton: “An oracle is a way of recognising a problem” and are also principles that “like all heuristics, are fallible and context-dependent; to be applied, not followed”. Interesting discussions emerged based on this topic, and participants highlighted that combining oracles when trying to put a case forward (i.e. bug advocacy) could help make a stronger point.
The role of bias was also discussed in the context of using Oracles, as well as using personas testing in conjunction with Oracles.
The strengths and weaknesses of the application were mentioned, and many participants showed frustration with the website’s UI, especially during account creation. There was also confusion as to the application’s purpose – was it a news aggregator or a mail client? The website’s documentation didn’t offer much help.
The transcript and more details about this session can be found here.
Nervousness aside, I had fun at the session. I have learned that no matter how much you prepare in advance, that these sessions are dynamic and that we cannot always foresee all issues that could happen (i.e. technical issues I had just before the session was about to start). It is good to plan, but we need to be prepared and embrace the unexpected. And that goes for other testing too. That is another reason why meticulously preparing extremely detailed test cases ahead of time can potentially be an futile exercise, as only when we sit in front of the application, with mouse and keyboard at hand will we really know what needs to be tested. We cannot foresee many of the scenarios to be tested in advance.
I also love these sessions as it is a place where testers are not judged and are free to make mistakes, to ask questions and to learn by experience. Everyone in these sessions are eager to learn and share, from the least to the most experienced. And every time I join in I learn something new – that is the beauty of Weekend Testing!