96: Software Testing as a Martial Art with David Greenlees

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Tired of getting crushed by bugs? Learn some testing Kung Fu to help you dominate any defect that comes your way. You need to be quick, and you need to recognize when something's not working. You need to be as Bruce Lee said “like water” so you can change your testing approach quickly. In this episode you’ll discover some new testing techniques to improve your testing efforts with David Greenlees, a black belt tester and author of the Software Testing as a Martial Art – There is no One Style.

About David

David Greenlees Headshot
David has been testing software and managing testing teams for over a decade. Many of these spent in one of Australia's largest government departments, while more recently undertaking a consultant role in multiple organisations prior to joining Doran Jones. He has published several articles and blogs regularly at http://www.dmg.name/http://martialtester.wordpress.com/ and also http://hellotestworld.com/. In 2012 David founded the Australian Workshop on Software Testing (http://ozwst.wordpress.com/), Australia's only Peer Conference. Twitter: @DMGreenlees.

David is also the author of the Software Testing as a Martial Art – There is no One Style book a must read for anyone involved with software testing.

Quotes & Insights from this Test Talk

  • I guess, there's different risks involved with martial arts and software testing, but the analogy is, once again, the same. You need to react quickly and, I keep saying it, calling on past experience. I think learning theoretical things about software testing is great, but practical experience is the thing that shines through, especially for me. It's a wonderful part of being a consultant. You get to experience a lot of different environments, different approaches, and you can work out what worked for you in the past, what didn't, and what you can try heading into the future.
  • The Bruce Lee Be Like Water quote is my favorite, but I can't read it out word for word without looking it. Basically, the concept is be like water. In other words, be flexible. You put water into a teapot, it becomes the teapot. I'm sure people can look up the quote if they need to. Many years of my early testing career, like I said, was built on best practice, something that I don't believe exists in software testing. We were taught step by step, procedural test cases. Step one, log in. The expected result is that you successfully log in. Step two, click on this link. Expected result is that you navigated to wherever that link's supposed to go. Many, many, many hours spent writing these test cases that either ended up being incorrect or were executed once and never looked at again. I guess what I'm referring to as a water test case is something that remains flexible. A step by step, procedural test case, if the product changes even slightly the test case will need to change or you'll need to throw it out.
  • I guess, for me, the importance of it is, testing is all about information. We need to gather information so that particular people, our stakeholders, whoever they may be can make a decision about whether we're ready to go live with whatever product it is that we're testing. Now, we can gather all sorts of information about a product. We all know about exhaustive testing, how it's not possible. We could test for years and years and years, collecting piles and piles and piles of information. We could do that and in the end find out that we still didn't get the type of information that our stakeholders need. Asking why first up, for me, helps me find out exactly what kind of information they're after so that we can get it quicker. Say I said to you, test the light switch. You said to me, why. I'll say, I just need to know whether the actual switch moves up and down. Straightaway, you stand up, you go test it, and it's done.
  • In martial arts it's never been much of an issue for me because one thing I really enjoy doing in martial arts is doing a new technique. I guess … I think sparring, for me, is probably the most important part in martial arts because you're not focused so much on trying to get your jab in a perfect technique against a bag. Instead, you're trying to get your jab in a perfect technique against a moving target which is constantly changing height, shape, and how good they are as well.
  • It comes back to that practicality of actually facing a real life situation. While I try and read a lot of software testing books and so on out there, what I try and do once I've read those books is to actually pick up on some of the techniques and actually take them to my work, or just practice them at home as well. When I'm faced in a situation in the future instead of thinking I've read that in a book somewhere, I wonder if that'll work, I'll have actually got some practical experience at that technique and I'll know better whether it will or it won't work for me.
  • What I would suggest, something that I think has helped me a lot in my software testing career, is perhaps don't focus just on software testing. Study and research psychology, human behavior, and in particular emotional intelligence. Software testing is a human activity. We're lucky, and I say we're lucky because this is part of software testing that I really enjoy, to deal with a great many stakeholders in what we do. We're not necessarily sitting in a corner, punching out code. We're not basically just off to one side where … We're the messengers. We're gathering the information. We're helping light the way of the project. In order to do that we need to deliver a lot of unfortunate bad information to stakeholders that sometimes think their products are absolutely brilliant, but perhaps they aren't so brilliant.


Connect with David

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