Read Along- ‘Agile Testing’ Chapter-18

“Coding and Testing”

  • The beginning of coding is a good time to start writing detailed tests.
  • As testers think of new scenarios to validate with executable tests, they also think about potential scenarios for manual exploratory testing. Make a note of these for later pursuit.
  • Some quick risk analysis can help you decide what testing to do first and where to focus your efforts.

The Power of Three Rule – When unexpected problems arise, you may need to pull in more people or even the entire team. Tester, Developer and Customer (or businesspeople) can together decide on correct behavior and solutions.

Explore It!

As soon as testable chunks of code are available, and the automated tests that guided their coding pass, take time to explore the functionality more deeply. Try different scenarios and learn more about the code’s behavior. You should have task cards for tests that critique the product both business and technology-facing. The story is not ‘done’ until all of these test types are done.

If your exploratory tests lead the team to realise that significant functionality was not covered by the stories, write new stories for future iterations. Keep a tight reign on “Scope Creep” or your team won’t have time to deliver the value you originally planned.

Technology-facing tests that critique the product are often done best during coding. This is the time to know if the design doesn’t scale or if there are security holes.

  • MANAGING DEFECTS
  • Leaving bugs festering n the code base has a negative effect on code quality, system intuitiveness, system flexibility, team morale and velocity.
  • Strive for “zero tolerance” towards bug counts.
  • Teams have solved the problem of how to handle defects in different ways.
    • Some teams put all their bugs on task cards
    • Some teams chose to write a cared, estimate it & schedule it as a story.
    • Some teams suggest adding a test for every bug
  • The more bugs you can fix immediately, the less technical debt your application generates and the less ‘defect’ inventory you have.
  • Try making the estimate for each story to include (atleast) two hours or half a day for fixing associated bugs.

If a bug is really missed functionality, choose to write a card for the bug and schedule it as a story.

Code produced test-first is fairly free of bugs by the time it is checked-in.

  • The Daily Stand-Up helps teams maintain the close communication they need.
  • Use Big, visible charts such as story boards, Burndown charts and other visual cues to help keep focus and know your status.
  • Having story boards gives your team focus suring the stand-ups or when you are talking to someone outside the team about your progress.

Communication

  • Testers can help keep the iteration progressing smoothly by helping make sure everyone is communicating enough. They can help programmers and customers find a common language.
  • Use retrospectives to evaluate whether collaboration & communication need improving and brainstorm ways to improve.
  • Teams in different locations have to make a special effort to keep each other informed.

Build Process

  • Teams take different approaches to make sure their build stays ‘green’.
  • The build needs to provide immediate feedback, so Keep It Short.
  • Tests that take too long, such as tests that update the database, functional tests above Unit level or GUI test scripts, should run in a separate build process.
  • Having a separate, continual ‘Full’ build with all of the regression suites is worth the investment.

During the iteration, you are automating new tests. As soon as these pass, add them to the Regression Suite.

As you start the iteration, make sure that test environments, test data, and test tools are in place to accommodate testing.

You may have brought in outside resources for the iteration to help with performance, security, usability or other forms of testing. Include them in stand-ups and discussions. Pair with them to help them understand the team’s objectives. This is an opportunity to pick up new skills!!

  • Consider what metrics you need during the iteration – Progress and Defect Metrics are 2 examples.
  • Whatever metrics you choose to measure – Go for Simplicity!

Read Along- ‘Agile Testing’ Chapter-17

“Iteration Kickoff”

  • Most teams kickoff their new iteration with a planning session. – where they discuss one story at a time, writing & estimating all of the tasks needed to implement it.
  • Task cards need to be written along with development task cards and estimated realistically.
  • When writing programming task cards, make sure that coding task estimates include time for writing unit tests and for all necessary testing by programmers.
  • Testers should help make sure that all necessary cards are written and they have reasonable estimates.

Your job as a tester is to make sure enough time is allocated to testing and to remind the team that testing & quality are the responsibility of the whole team. When the team decides how many stories they can deliver in an iteration, the question isn’t “How much coding can we finish?” but “How much coding and testing can we complete?”

Commit Conservatively – It is always better to bring in another story later than to drop a picked story.

  • Working closely with customers or customer proxies is one of the most important activities as an agile tester. Good communication usually takes work.
  • We want “big-picture” tests to help the programmers get started in the right direction on a story. High level tests should convey the main purpose behind the story.
  • Don’t forget to ask the programmers what they think you might have missed. What are the high-risk areas of the code? Where do they think testing should be focused?

When Testability is an issue, make it the team’s problem to solve.

One beneficial side-effect of reviewing the tests with programmers is the cross-learning that happens.

High level test cases along with executable tests you’ll write during the iteration will form the core of the application’s documentation.

People unfamiliar with agile development often have the misconception that there’s no documentation. In fact, agile projects produce usable documentation that contains executable tests and thus, is always up to date.

Read Along- ‘Agile Testing’ Chapter-16

“Hit the Ground Running”

  • Testers in agile must be proactive. Instead of waiting for work to come to them, they get up and go look for ways to contribute.
  • Working on stories in advance of the iteration may be useful for teams that are split across different geographic locations. By working ahead, there’s time to get information to everyone and give them a chance to give their input.
  • If we make our iteration planning go faster and reduce the risk of the stories we’re going to undertake, it’s worth doing some research and brainstorming before we start the iteration.

The Pre-Planning Meeting

  • Go Over stories for the next iteration
  • The Product owner explains the purpose of each story – business conditions of satisfaction.
  • Team brainstorms about potential risks and dependencies, asks questions and figures out the simplest path.
  • Pull in customers to answer questions, get a better idea.
  • Experiment with short Pre-Iteration discussions and Test-Writing sessions
  • Invest preparation time when it’s appropriate. There is a risk to ‘working ahead’.
  • To go Fast – We need to Slow Down First!

Teams that are distributed in multiple locations may do their iteration planning by conference call, online meeting or teleconference. ( And Cut to 2020 – Coronian Times – Every one of us is doing that!! )

  • One practice that Lisa’s team used was to assign each team a subset of the upcoming stories and have them write task cards in advance.

(I, too, have used this practice – only the Task Cards were in fact story Sub-tasks being created in JIRA for our user story items created by the PO)

  • If the customers aren’t readily available to answer questions and make decisions, other domain experts who are accessible at all times should be empowered to guide the team by determining priorities and expressing desired system behavior with examples.

(I have experienced that – our Product Owners essentially did this job for us)

  • Examples are an effective way to learn about and illustrate desired functionality. Using Examples, you can write high level tests to flesh out the story a bit more.
  • Mock-ups are essential for stories involving UI or a report. Ask your customers to draw up their ideas about how the page should look.
  • Before the next iteration – triage the outstanding issues with the customer. Those deemed necessary should be scheduled into the next iteration.

Read Along- ‘Agile Testing’ Chapter-15

“An Iteration in the life of a Tester”

  • Testers bring a different viewpoint to planning and estimation meetings. They need to be a part of the story sizing process.
  • The team needs to develop in small, testable chunks in order to help decide what stories are tentatively planned for which iteration. They keyword being ‘testable’.
  • If there are stories that present a big testing challenge, it might be good to do those early on.

Release Planning is the time to start asking for examples and use cases of how the features will be used, and what value they’ll provide. Drawing flowcharts or sample calculations on white board can help pinpoint the core functionality.

  • The agile tester thinks about how each story might affect the system as a whole or other systems that ours has to work with.
  • In agile development, Test Plan must be concise and lightweight., assessing testing issues, including risk analysis and identifying assumptions. The biggest benefit of test planning is the Planning itself.

This chapter shows examples of lightweight agile Test Plans created by Lisa and Janet that are very useful! Here is my take on creating a simplistic agile test plan using a mind-map-

Agile Test Plan – using a Mind Map

The chapter discusses about Task Boards and how they can be leveraged. Here is my take on using task boards by agile teams that I wrote a few months back –

https://testwithnishi.com/2019/07/25/4-ways-task-boards-can-help-agile-teams/

Agile metrics are key to measuring the team’s progress. Plan for what metrics you want to capture for the life of the release, think about what problem you are trying to sove and capture only those metrics that are meaningful for your team.

Here is something I wrote about useful and not-so-useful Agile metrics-

https://testwithnishi.com/2019/12/04/metrics-your-agile-team-should-should-not-be-tracking/

Don’t get caught up with committing to your plans- the situation is bound to change. Instead, prepare for doing the right activities and getting the right resources in time to meet the customer’s priorities!

Read Along- ‘Agile Testing’ Chapter-14

“An Agile Test Automation Strategy”

Use the Agile Test Quadrants to help you identify the different types of test automation tools you might need for each project, even each iteration.

Test Automation Pyramid (introduced by Mike Cohn)

Lowest Layer- Bulk of automated unit , technology facing tests. Quickest feedback, code much more quickly using xUnit family of tools

Middle layer – Automated business-facing tests that help the team. “Are we building the right thing” Tests operate at the API, behind the GUI level. Bypass the presentation layer – less expensive to write & maintain these tests. Fit & FitNesse are good examples, written in domain language

Top Tier – Should be the smallest automation effort as they  have the lowest ROI. Done through GUI, operating on the presentation layer. More expensive to write, more brittle and need more maintenance.

The Test Automation Pyramid
  • Any tedious or repetitive task involved in developing software is a candidate for automation.
  • AN automated deployment process is imperative – getting automated build emails listing every change made is a big help to testers. It speeds up testing & reduces errors.
  • A fast running continuous integration and build process gives the greatest ROI of any automation effort.
  • Another useful area for automation is data creation or setup. Cleaning up test data is as important as generating it. You data creation toolkit should include ways to tear down the test data so it doesn’t affect a different test or prevent rerunning the same test.

What we shouldn’t automate

  • Usability testing
  • Exploratory testing
  • Tests that will never fail
  • One-Off tests
  • Plan-in plenty of time for evaluating tools, setting up build processes, and experimenting with different test approaches in the initial iterations.
  • If management is reluctant to give the team time to implement automation, explain the trade-offs clearly. Work towards a compromise.
  • We will always have deadlines, and we always feel pressed for time. There is never enough time to go back and fix things. During your next planning meeting, budget time to make meaningful progress on your automation efforts.
  • Good test management ensures that tests can provide effective documentation of the system and of the development progress

Read Along- ‘Agile Testing’ Chapter-13

“Why we Want to Automate Tests and What holds us back”

  • Test automation is a core agile practice. Agile projects depend on automation.
  • Manual tests take too long and are error prone.
  • Automation regression tests provide a safety net. They give feedback early & often.
  • Automated builds, deployment, version control and monitoring also go a long way toward mitigating risk and making your development process more consistent.

“Build Once, Deploy to Many” – is a tester’s dream!

Projects succeed when good people are free to do their best work. Automating tests appropriately makes that happen!

If we become complacent about our testing challenges and depend solely on automated tests to find our issues, and then just fix them enough for the test to pass – we do ourselves a disservice.

However, if we use the tests to identify problem areas and fix them the right way or refactor as needed, then we are using the safety net of automation in the right way.

When tests that illustrate examples of desired behavior are Automated, they become ‘living’ documentation of how the system actually works.

Barriers to Automate –

  • Programmer’s attitude – Why automate at all
  • The Hump of Pain – the initial learning curve
  • Initial Investment
  • Fear – Non-programming testers fear they have nothing to contribute
  • Legacy code
  • Old habits, team culture
  • Without automated regression tests, manual regression testing will continue to grow in scope and eventually may simply be ignored.
  • Teams with automated tests and build processes have a more stable velocity.
  • Good test design practices produce simple, well-designed, continually refactored, maintainable tests.
  • Team culture & history may make it harder for programmers to prioritize automation of business-facing tests than coding new features. Using Agile principles & values helps the whole team overcome barriers to test automation.

Read Along- ‘Agile Testing’ Chapter-12

“Summary of Testing Quadrants”

This chapter reviews all the four Agile Testing Quadrants by illustrating an example of a team’s success story in testing their whole system using a variety of home-grown and open source tools.

The system is related to Monitoring of Remote Oil and Gas Production Wells. The software application had a huge legacy system, with very few unit tests. The team was slowly rebuilding the application using new technology. And describes how they used tests from all four quadrants to support them.

  • Using Test Driven Development and Pair Programming wholeheartedly. Also adding unit tests and refactoring all legacy code they encountered on the way.
  • The product engineer writing acceptance tests and sharing with the developers and testers before they began creating.
  • Automation involving functional test structure, web services and embedded testing
  • Exploratory testing to supplement the automated tests to find critical issues.
  • Don’t forget to Document… but only what is useful
  • Finding ways to keep customers involved in all types of testing, even if they are remote. Have UATs and end to end tests
  • Use lessons learnt during testing to Critique the product in order to drive the development in next iterations
Agile Testing Quadrants

Read Along- ‘Agile Testing’ Chapter-11

“Critiquing the Product Using Technology-Facing Tests”

  • Technology-facing tests that critique the product are more concerned with the non-functional aspects – deficiencies of the product from a technical point of view.
  • We describe requirements using a programming domain vocabulary. This is the main of Quadrant-4 of our Agile Testing Quadrants.
  • Customers simply assume that software will be designed to properly accommodate the potential load, at a reasonable rate of performance. It doesn’t always occur to them to verbalize those concerns.
  • Tools, whether home-grown or acquired, are essential to succeed with Quadrant 4 testing efforts.

“Many teams find that a good technical tester or toolsmith can take on many of these tasks.”

Take a second look at the skills that your team already posseses, and brainstorm about the types of “ility” testing that can be done with the resources you already have. If you need outside teams, plan for that in your release and iteration planning.

The information these (Quadrant-4) tests provide may result in new stories and tasks in areas such as changing the architecture for better scalability or implementing a system-wide security solution. Be sure to complete the feedback loop from tests that critique the product to tests that drive changes that will improve the non-functional aspects of the product.

When Do you Do it?

  • Technical stories can be written to address specific requirements.
  • Consider a separate row on your story board for tasks needed by the product as a whole.
  • Find a way to test them early in the project
  • Prioritize stories such that a steel thread or a thin slice is complete early, so that you can create a performance test that can be run and continued as you add more functionality.
  • The time to think about your non-functional tests is during release or theme planning.

The team should consider various types of “ility” testing including – Security, maintainability, Interoperability, Compatibility, Reliability and Installability – and should execute them at appropriate times.

Performance, Scalability, Stress and Load tests should be done from the beginning of the project.

Read Along- ‘Agile Testing’ Chapter-10

“Business-Facing Tests that Critique the Product”

  • Critiquing or evaluating the product is what business users or tester do when they assess and make judgement about the product.
  • These are the tests performed in Quadrant 3 of our Agile Testing Quadrants
  • It is difficult to automate Business facing tests that critique the product, because such testing relies on human intellect, experience, and insight.
  • You won’t have time to do any Quadrant 3 tests if you haven’t automated tests in Quadrants 1 and 2.
  • Evaluating or critiquing the product is about manipulating the system and trying to recreate the actual experience of end users.

Demonstrations

  • Show customers what you are developing early & often.
  • End-of-iteration demos are important to see what has been delivered and revise priorities
  • Rather than just waiting for end of sprint demos, use any opportunity to demonstrate changes as you go.
  • Choose a frequency of demos that works for your team. Informal demos can be more productive

Scenario Testing – Business users can help define plausible scenarios & workflows that can mimic end user behavior

Soap Opera Testing – Term coined by Hans Buwalsa (2003) can help the team understand business & user needs. Ask “What’s the worst thing that can happen, and how did it happen?”

Exploratory Testing

  • As an investigative tool, it is a critical supplement to the story tests and our automated regression suite.
  • Sophisticated, thoughtful approach to testing without a script, combining learning, test design and test execution

Usability Testing

There are 2 types of usability testing. The first is done up front by user experience folks, using tools such as wire frames to drive programming. These are part of Quadrant 2.

The second type talks about the kind of usability testing that critiques the product. We use tools such as User Personas and our Intuition to help us look at the product with the end user in mind.

API Testing

Instead of just thinking about testing interfaces, we can also look at APIs and consider attacking the problem in other ways and consider tools like simulators & emulators.

Testing Documentation

User manuals & online help need validation just as much as software. Your team may employ specialists like technical writers who create & verify documentation. The entire team is responsible for the quality of documentation.

Read Along- ‘Agile Testing’ Chapter-8

“Business-Facing Tests that Support the Team”

A look at tests in Quadrant-2 – Business-Facing tests

Agile Testing Quadrants
  • On an agile project, the customer team and the development team strike up a conversation based on a user story.
  • Business-facing tests address business requirements. They express requirements based on examples and use a language and format that both the customer and development teams can understand. Examples form the basis of learning the desired behavior of each feature and we use those examples as the basis of our story tests in Quadrant-2
  • Business-facing tests are also called “customer-facing”,”story”,”customer” and “acceptance” tests. The term ‘acceptance tests’ should not be confused with ‘user acceptance tests’ from Quadrant-3.
  • The business-facing tests in Q-2 are written for each story before coding started, because they help the team understand what code to write.
    • Quadrant-1 activities ensure internal quality, maximize team productivity, and minimize technical debt.
    • Quadrant-2 tests define and verify external quality and help us know when we are done.

The customer tests to drive coding are generally written in executable format, and automated, so that team members can run the tests as often as they like to see if functionality works as desired.

  • Tests need to include more than the customer’s stated requirements. We need to test for post-conditions, impact on the system as a whole, and integration with other systems. We identify risks and mitigate those with our tests. All of these factors then guide our coding.
  • The tests need to be written in a way that is comprehensible to a business user yet still executable by the technical team.
  • Getting requirements right is an area where team members in many different roles can jump in to help.
  • We often forget about non-functional requirements. Testing for them may be a part of Quadrants 3 and 4, but we still need to write tests to make sure they get done.

There are conditions of satisfaction for the whole team as well as for each feature or story. They generally come out of conversations with the customer about high-level acceptance criteria for each story. They also help identify risky assumptions and increases team’s confidence in writing & correctly estimating tasks needed to complete the story.

  • A smart incremental approach to writing customer tests that guide development is to start with a “thing-slice” that follows a happy path from one end to the other. (also called a “steel-thread” or “tracer-bullet”). This ‘steel-thread’ connects all of the components together and after it’s solid, more functionality can be added.
  • After the thin slice is working, we can write customer tests for the next chunk.
    • It’s a process of  “write tests — write code— run tests — learn”
  • Another goal of customer tests is to identify high-risk areas and make sure code is written to solidify those.
  • Experiment & find ways your team can balance using up-front detail and keeping focused on the big picture.

Quadrant-2 contains a lot of different types of tests and activities. We need the right tools to facilitate gathering, discussing, and communicating examples and tests.

>>Simple tools such as Paper or Whiteboard work well for gathering examples if the team is co-located.

>>More sophisticated tools help teams write business-facing tests that guide development in an executable, automatable format.