Software Testing Clinic

Test Manager Darren McMillan gives us the scoop on what went on at the recent event in Glasgow.


We're great supporters of nurturing talent. Recently, Dog sponsored the latest Software Testing Clinic event in Glasgow, which aims to provide a safe environment for testers to learn more about their trade. This particular instalment was aimed at providing more info around the term “exploratory testing”. Darren McMillan, Test Manager here at Dog, took part and has shared his thoughts on this fantastic event.

The clinic hosts Del Dewar and Tracey Baxter went about explaining what exploratory testing means, and how using charters to drive your exploratory testing can create a structured and more disciplined approach to testing.  After providing some insights the attendees divided into groups and worked together on some challenges which would apply what they’d learned in practice. 

The first challenge was around an artist Charis Tsevis who had created a piece of artwork based upon company logos.  The attendees were asked to undertake some tasks, finding who the artist was & counting the amount of brands on the artwork.  This was met with mixed responses and approaches to testing.  Being an end of life feature, with no access to original requirements and having only a low quality image to go on, some resorted to Google, to seek further knowledge on the project.  Some attempted to count and devise strategies for how to most efficiently count without actually counting every image manually.  In the end the frustration came from not having access, or means to more efficiently test it in the given time period.

The debrief part of the challenge gave each team an opportunity to discuss their approach and thoughts on the challenge.  Del began to map these on a whiteboard.  This is where the real benefits of the clinic came to light.  Through discussion and observations each attendee and mentor got the rare chance to analyse how other testers think and put their thoughts into practice.  In an industry where most internal knowledge is retained within the confines of a company, being able to discuss with peers and see how others approach challenges is an invaluable support, enabling each attendee to return to their workplace with fresh ideas and insights.  A real win-win for everybody!


Work in progress: Exploratory Testing

With a quick break for some pizza and drinks, the second challenge quickly followed.  This involved planning test charters around a change details form.  Everyone was provided with a user story and a series of acceptance criteria for it, and asked to develop charters based on this.  Tracey acted as the product owner, providing further insight to teams who made use of her time.  Again a debrief session provided insight on how teams approached charter creation.  Some didn’t make use of the product owner, some resorted to testing rather than charter creation, with others doing better and considering the different steps of charter creation. Teams were then asked to test against one of their charters, which was again followed by another debrief on their observations, approach and what they found. 

I found the session extremely valuable and would urge fellow testers to find out about these monthly events. They seek to drive the industry forward through training and conversation, helping to improve the skills and opportunities available to those who attend.  To find out more about the Software Testing Clinic nationwide, check out the website. Details on the next session in Glasgow on Note taking, can be found here.  

If you would like to discuss this approach to exploratory testing using test charters, then feel free to get in touch with me.