PQA and Exploratory Testing

I’ve been caught up in family health issues and Christmas, but we’re in remission from both for a week or two, and I am still committed to filling this space.

In my inbox today (Okay it’s been there a week) I found a newsletter from PQA. (Professional QUality Assurance Ltd. out of Fredericton.)

It’s worth a read, and it relates to a lot of the things I’ve been thinking about and discussing here:

xBTM: Harnessing the Power of Exploratory Testing

By Christin Wiedemann, Software Tester, PQA Vancouver

Exploratory testing provides both flexibility and speed, characteristics that have become increasingly important, especially with the quick pace of short agile iterations. But, how do you retain traceability in exploratory testing without losing your creativity? How do you, as a manager, actually manage testing that is unscripted and improvised? One answer is to use a combination of session-based test management (SBTM) and thread-based test management (TBTM) called xBTM.

Session-based Test Management (SBTM)

SBTM (ref: Jonathan Bach, 2000, http://www.satisfice.com ) is the reply to the common misconception that exploratory testing is by its very nature always unplanned, undocumented and unmeasurable. Using SBTM, exploratory testing is done in time-boxed sessions . Each session has a mission that is specified in the test charter , for example, the sessions are actually planned ahead (but not scripted ). A session results in a session report that provides a reviewable record of the testing that was done. Based on the session report, the test manager can derive various metrics to track the progress of the testing. SBTM doesn’t have much in common with ”ad hoc” testing, in fact – SBTM is quite strict, sometimes even too strict.

Thread-based Test Management (TBTM)

There are environments too chaotic or hectic for SBTM to work properly, and this led to the introduction of TBTM (ref: James Bach, 2010, http://www.satisfice.com ). TBTM is a generalization of SBTM that allows for more freedom and flexibility. The core of TBTM is threads and, similarly to sessions, threads are test activities intended to reach a certain test goal. The big difference is that whereas a session is a commitment to complete a specific task in a given amount of time, threads come with no such commitments. A thread can be interrupted, resumed, canceled or go on indefinitely. SBTM defines both where to start and where to end, but TBTM only definies where to start. In TBTM, activities are allowed…

link to the rest:
http://www.pqa.ca/Blog/post/xBTM-Harnessing-the-Power-of-Exploratory-Testing.aspx

If you like that, there’s more on the author’s blog. (woops, it’s on wordpress now)  I’ve worked with PQA professionally, and have been consistently impressed. It’s great to see this kind of thought and writing being done up here in the frozen north.  Check it out, pass it on.

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