I completed a wonderful learning experience sponsored by James Bach and Jon Bach called “Rapid Testing Intensive” (RTI) from July 24 through the 28th. During my career, I have attended more training programs than I can remember. But for the most part they have a common theme. The days are long and you are watching the clock waiting to go home. Typically the assignments are cookie-cutter that I usually finish early and most often do not apply to my real work life. Happily this was not the experience with RTI. In fact it was the opposite as we tested a live application called eBay. This project simulated the real work environment in every way possible including throwing us a few curve balls by changing our assignments.
James and Jon Bach successfully pulled off a testing experience that I do not think any of us will forget and may never experience again. RTI used a blended-learning approach of teaching, mentoring, hands-on assignments, working in teams, and for some using new technology (JIRA, HipChat). They had a wonderful coordinator, their sister, Erika Bach Good. I am not sure what we would have done without her. Erika coordinated all of our set-up, communication, and faciliated resolving problems. Other well-known testing consultants helped resolve problems, answer questions, and foster testing discussions. They included Michael Bolton, Karen Johnson, Paul Holland, and Scott Barber. I am sure I am missing people. So if I did, please add a comment so I can update this posting.
The days flew by and instead of finishing my assignments early I was wishing for more time to explore and document problems. I worked through my lunch hour every day while watching the webinars. But I did not care since I was learning so much and was enjoying the experience. The testing problems were real with the end-results being reported to eBay. It was great to test an application where someone cared about the results. We walked through a testing framework that started with learning our testing areas through writing a test report. For each step of the framework we were provided a hands-on assignment that we electronically submitted. The Bach brothers selected a few of them to review with the group which was another great learning opportunity. We entered our bugs and enhancements into a bug-tracking system.
I should mention that there were about 20-testers at Orcas Island in Washington and about 80-testers remotely throughout the world. I was one of the remote testers. We used HipChat with various chat rooms to communicate. We could watch the webinars live or the recorded version. JIRA provided a central RTI dashboard providing a drop box for assignments, reading material, recorded webinars and much more.
When I signed up for this experience, I wondered how this would work for me being a remote tester. Would I feel included in the experience? How much would I learn? And happily I can tell you I felt part of an energetic, dedicated testing community focused on learning and improving their testing skills. Everyone was focused on finding bugs and providing usability feedback to eBay to help them improve their application. In fact this learning opportunity greatly exceeded my expectations!
I performed my testing using a Windows XP latop, iPad, iPhone, and a Windows 7 notebook. It was great to test across all these platforms to see if problems were reproducible using other technology. I also used the old technology of paper and pencil – because sometimes nothing can replace it. Plus I could not get through my testing without my favorite bag of tea. Earl Grey Supreme from Harney & Sons! Yes, I purchase my tea in bulk form – by the pound!
One of my favorite assignments was to take a P1 bug and perform a 90-minute session to explore it further. I worked with another tester and together we were able to build upon each other’s testing ideas. We explored the P1 problem to understand where we believe the failure point was based upon our access to data. Through exploration, we were able to identify that the problem was not limited to the area reported but to other areas. We wrote and completed a session-based charter plus wrote a test report using the story approach. The test report provided a brief status about the product, how we tested it, and the value of the testing.
The story approach to providing a brief report is a great idea as it helps me stay focus on the information I should provide. From this testing assignment, I have many ideas on how session-based testing can be used throughout testing. This includes understanding how much of a feature is testable to further exploring important bugs and risks.
As the day came to end the course I had mixed feelings. I was disappointed because I wanted this unique experience to continue and yet I was excited about bringing back a solid framework to my team. I was already identifying potential testing problems.
I have at least 3-binders filled with valuable information, pages of notes, and a lot of mind maps. I ended the course on Saturday and on Monday I was already implementing the session-based approach with tangible testing results. I cannot remember ever attending a training course where I could immediately apply what was taught. I am also applying the RTI framework that starts with learning a new feature through providing a report. This framework provides direction and keeps you focused on certain tasks as you work through learning, testing ideas, risks, and application of testing. RTI supports living documentation and that your testing strategy and approaches can change as you learn more through testing. This is what I believe so it is a perfect approach for me.
Below is an example of a test coverage outline mind map to prepare for testing.
Below are a few resources that were shared through twitter. If you know of any others, please add a comment so I can update this posting.
Chris Kenst posted recap notes each day.
To view pictures from the event and other material refer to the website.
Berry Bread Pudding in a Foil Packet!
The testers who attended RTI on-site had a daily afternoon treat! Those of us who were testing remotely were jealous when we heard what they were having! So in honor of the remote testers I decided to make a special dessert for us! I wish I could share it with each of you but since we are the remote testers that would be difficult. But perhaps you can make it or something else to be your special treat! I am providing the basic foundational ingredients but you can make substitutions to make it your own!
This is a great warm-weather dessert that you make on your grill – no need to heat the oven! While you are eating your dinner, place this dessert on the grill and it will be done when you have finished your dinner.
Ingredients I like to use…
1 cup Skim Milk
4 cups Cinnamon Bread, cubed and crust cut off
1 ½ cup Strawberries and Blueberries
1 tbsp Cinnamon Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla
½ tsp Nutmeg
Non-stick Reynolds Wrap
Reynolds Wrap Heavy Duty
Whip Cream or Ice Cream for serving
Here is how I make this dessert…
Assemble and measure all of your ingredients.
Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Gently mix to ensure everything is blended together.
Spread the mixture evenly on a large piece of non-stick Reynolds Wrap leaving sufficient wrap at all sides to fold.
Fold the long sides of the non-stick foil into the middle.
Then take the ends and bring to the middle.
I like more stability when grilling so I double wrap it with a piece of Reynolds Wrap heavy duty. This will make it easier for you to flip on the grill plus take it on and off the grill. I tightly fold the ends to ensure no air can get in while grilling. If you decide not to double-wrap then you will need to make sure you seal both the centerfold and end folds tightly to ensure no spillage during grilling.
Take off the grill and carefully unwrap. We use our grilling tongs to both flip the Foil Packet on the grill and to initially open it. Below is a picture of the bread pudding before spooning it onto a plate and adding whip cream or ice cream. Enjoy your special treat!