Exploratory-testing driven development

Yesterday Brian Marick made an blog entry with some thoughts considering alternatives to business-facing TDD. Here is an abstract:

Abstract: The value of programmer TDD is well established. It’s natural to extrapolate that practice to business-facing tests, hoping to obtain similar value. We’ve been banging away at that for years, and the results disappoint me. Perhaps it would be better to invest heavily in unprecedented amounts of built-in support for manual exploratory testing. An Alternative To Business-Facing TDD

It took me the whole night to realise, that I was faced with something similar. Personally I would like to call his idea Exploratory-testing driven development and I must admit that I was already confronted with this. Personally I would like to add some more context. In our organisation we have a huge product developed consisting of several software sub-systems written in C, C++ and Java. The Java sub-systems are build upon an JBoss application server and the key sub-systems, which is responsible for maintaining all the data from business point of view, is hard to test in the exploratory way, since it is hard to have the proper data in the system, you will need for more advanced tests. It’s possible, but hard, though.

During our last project-end overtime-schedule – yes, we’re doing waterfall… – I got the chance to get some more details on one C/C++ based sub-system, which is at the low-level end of the whole chain. All communication in the sub-system consists of xml-data. A collegue and I had a problem, so we contacted the main champion of that sub-system. We gave him the last snipplet of communication,
which came from the Java component. He took that xml-data, snipped a little here and there, putting a small xml-portion into a new root-container and – ta-da – he had all the data he needed to reproduce the behaviour in the sub-system he just had started.

This was the point where I realised what I called “exploratory testing driven development”. Within this particular sub-system it is easy to introduce a complete complex data-set with absolute ease (compared to the handbreaking things you have to do with the Java sub-systems).

An outline for me is, that I encourage support from development. Unfortunately though I think, that it is can be impossible to have complete exploratory testing support within an application and meeting performance and/or usability goals. Basically this depends mainly on the context of your application under test. But I will leave these thoughts like they are for the moment.

quakenet secure auth script for xchat

r0bert was so kind to package my python script which I use for secure challenge auth on the QuakeNet IRC-Chat. For the new authentication mechanisms for the new Q-Bot I had to do some adaptations which I shared with him. From my point of view there is nothing really special in this script, it’s just a good helper.

You may go and grab it on the link below. Personally I would be happy not to be bothered with too many bugs, since this guy was not really good tested. It just works “as is” for me. :)

quakenet_xchat_script.zip

Here is the according content from the README file:

This script provides automated authentification with Quakenet’s new (as of
22.03.2008) Q service for the free, graphical IRC client XChat.
Get it at http://www.xchat.org
QuakeNet’s website is http://www.quakenet.org

The Script makes use of the (new) challengeauth function, so the user’s
auth-password will only be submitted in encrypted form.
After having auth’ed with Q, user-modes will be set (e.g. +x) and
predefined channels will be joined.

Fill out the lines beginning with auth_nicks, auth_passes, channels and
modes at the beginning of the script and place it into your user’s
XChat directory, e.g. /home/username/.xchat2 – the script will be loaded
when XChat starts.

The script is released and licensed under the terms of the
GNU GPL Version 3.

Learn more about the GPL at http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-3.0.html

Script-Author: ShiN0 –> http://www.shino.de/bog
Polishing and Propaganda: r0bert –> #konsolen@QuakeNet

If you like this thing, maybe I can give you additionally a hint to my sourceforge project on bayesian filtering for IRC. (I know that this needs an update.)

Agile projects and project management

During the last week I got a seminar organised by my employer. During one of the lunch breaks I found some time to talk to one of our project managers. He stated, that he basically likes the Scrum method. Unfortunately there is one big thing, why he does not like Scrum at all: They do not need project managers.

This statement initiated some research interest within me. Since I have not yet found the time to read through Agile Software Development with Scrum by Mike Beedle and Ken Schwaber – it’s on my order list at amazon since end of January – and don’t know that much about Scrum, I would welcome any articles worth reading on the need for project management within agile projects.

My personal intention is to find out more about agile development and how to establish it within our organisation. My first try is to do this by showing how agility works within a small test automation project. Lately I got a lot of inspiration by reading several newsgroups on agile related topics and additionally I took my last vacation to do a review of Lisa Crispin’s and Janet Gregory’s upcomig book on agile testing (I would order it right away if it was finished, yet). For the project management part I would also like to provide a solution, since our organisation is used to work in a matrix organisation and I very confident, that agile projects – even when they are very complex – need of course someone to check interdependencies and lead the project to success.

If you have something on your list, that you would like to me read to get a better inside, please add a comment to this article. I would be very pleased.

First Post

Finally I managed to build up my own blog. Though you might think that this is “just another blog”, I hope you will find my articles worthwhile.

From time to I would like to cover topics on Software Testing, Pattern Classification and maybe some other categories.

Stay tuned.

Software Testing, Craftsmanship, Leadership and beyond