Monday, August 13, 2007

Belated explanation of the title

Soon after posting my first blog, I realised that I had neglected to explain the title.... probably a rather significant detail....especially for those hoping to read something about trapping wildlife.

While at CAST (refer to previous blog for details), I was lucky enough to attend an all day tutorial with James Bach. During the day, he challenged us to write our own heuristics (“fallible method of solving a problem”). I was terrified. Firstly of writing - there are a few things I am confident about, but writing my own thoughts is not one of them. Secondly, I was terrified of embarrassing myself in front of one of the people I consider to be a guru in Software testing. I sat with this bunch of blank cards in front of me and thought... and thought some more. Suddenly (and surprisingly), a thought came to me... write what you know. One of my "philosophies" in life is that you can't always change things or accomplish things overnight. It happens one slow step at at time. I realised we have a saying for this... "Slowly Slowly Catch Monkey". I use it when trying to convey a need for (artful?) patience. I guess to me, it means that there is a plan involved. And part of the plan is to make small changes or progress steps all the time - sometimes without anyone even noticing, until finally, the “Monkey” is captured. (Your goal achieved). I have no idea where I heard it first.... I just know we say it. My boss says it, my cousin says it... So I wrote it down and put my own "slightly testing related" spin to it. I had a heuristic! I wasn't overly confident that this would be something that could work... but then a friend (Adam) in the class came over and read it... he liked it, and that gave me courage – he even offered to put it up on the wall with the others for me. And from there, I guess it's history. James seemed to like it too, which was cool. Very cool. So here we are.....(and I am taking some poetic license with myself cos I am not sure this was exactly how I originally worded it!!)

“Slowly Slowly Catch Monkey” (as it relates to Software Testing)

When trying to make changes to a process or environment, it is sometimes best to tackle things one small step at a time.

Friday, August 10, 2007

CAST 2007

I was recently priviliged enough to attend CAST 2007, a Software Testing Conference in Bellevue, Washington. It was the first International Conference I have attended and the experience was one of the highlights of my testing career thus far. So, what did I learn?

I guess the first thing is that I have created this blog page, to practice my writing and communication regarding what we do and how we do it. Certainly, something that stood out for me is that I need to get a lot more practical and down to earth when talking about the art and science of testing.

I got the opportunity to compare some of the testing work that we are doing at home with the ideas and innovations talked about at the conference. There are some things that we can do much better and there are a lot of things that I am quite proud to say, we are already doing (sometimes though without formally talking about it).

The tester competition showed me personally, that I am an ok :) tester but that I need to practice a lot more when it comes to the show and tell side of what I do - i.e. just how important it is to be able to explain what, how and why we do what we do in a way that engages and excites people.

The real highlight for me was the all day tutorial with James Bach. After reading so many of his books, articles and papers and really trying to implement those ideas and innovations, it was a somewhat surreal experience to be in a small group, listening and learning. A whole bunch of things resonated with me from this session - how I need to write more (practice practice practice), read more philosophy, introduce more "testing exercises" with my peers and basically carry on learning as much as I can. I have already started with some small steps - created this blog page, joined the Software-testing yahoo group, and joined AST.

So from here, I am in the process of trying to contextualise all of the new things I have learned and trying to put them into practice - see what works, what doesn't work. I guess I will report back soon on how that's going....

Thanks to everyone involved in the conference and me being there, I hope to share as much as possible with as many as possible....