In December of 2012, Ryan Lamontagne and I got into a good discussion on the uTest forms about whether testers should report every bug they find. We decided to kick it up a notch and debate it live in a webinar!
It’s been a busy past few weeks. In addition to picking up two new enterprise customer accounts (uTest TTL work) I was a panelist for three more uTest webinars.
Maximizing Your Benefit From The uTest Forums
Maximizing Exploratory Testing Methods
How to be a Quiet Tester That Customers Shout About
I was able to join Kayla Cox and Todd Smith for a uTest webinar to talk about testing mobile devices and how to find high-value bugs.
Since my microphone was terrible (and I might have been mumbling a little ) here is a summary of the points I made in our discussion.
Understand that not all crashes are valuable.
Out of memory crash may be due to other apps using up 90% of your memory and the app you are testing just pushed you over the limit. The best way to know for sure, is to have a clean test bed. Restart your phone after you install a new app, and make sure no other apps are running in the background.
When you do get a memory related crash, use a memory management app to help you see where your memory usage spikes. Being able to identify a reproducible memory crash is usually a high-value bug
- Kill your connection while data is being transferred
- Unplug your wi-fi router/modem
- Turn on airplane mode
- Turn of wi-fi on your device
- Turn off cellular data on your device
- Find places near you that have low or no signal and test there
Interaction with native and popular apps
- Share something via email with no email set up
- Log in using Facebook account with/without the Facebook app installed
- Interrupt testing with phone calls, text messages, FaceTime calls etc
- If the app changes the phone settings, make sure it does it correctly. Change it back manually in settings and see how the app responds
Investigation and Documentation
There are many topics on how to write good bug reports but there are a few points worth reiterating
- Provide exact reproduction steps
- Do root cause analysis – don’t report symptoms. I once saw 3 testers reported 3 different symptoms of the same bug. On the surface they all looked like different bugs, but a little analysis showed they were all caused by the same step they all overlooked.
For the past 3 years, uTest recognizes uTesters who have consistently gone above and beyond their call of duty. uTest recently announced their selections for the 2012 testers of the year and I was selected as the 2012 Mentor of the Year!
Wow! What a thrill!
As I’ve mentioned many times, uTest provides us testers with many opportunities to grow and develop our testing skills. We are constantly exposed to new products, devices, and customers. The uTest forum always keeps us up to date on the latest testing trends and hot debate topics. But uTest offers us more than opportunities to learn; uTest also provides a platform for us to teach and mentor.
My greatest thrill comes when uTesters comment on how one of my posts helped or inspired them. It’s the motivation behind everything I write. It’s a privilege to be able to influence new uTesers as they evolve into highly-skilled and respected testers.
uTest has assembled a community of testers ready to learn, but that need must be met by those willing to teach. Every tester has knowledge they’ve gained through study and experience. No matter how simple it may seem, that information is valuable. If you’re brave enough to share what you have learned, you’ll experience the amazing feeling of knowing you are positively impacting your community and industry.
I am truly honored to receive this award and I want to extend my sincere thanks to the uTest team and the uTester community.
If you care to read any of my “uMentor” posts, they are all located here.
2012 was a career year for me. For the past 8 years I’ve just had a job. I didn’t really enjoy what I was doing and didn’t put much thought into how I could or should develop my career. Things changed quickly early in the year as several opportunities came together. Here are a few of those highlights:
I found the best job I’ve ever had, working as the principle tester at a semiconductor manufacturer. Before I arrived, there was no formal testing in the IT department. I was tasked with introducing testing in one group and then over time, grow it throughout the organization. I’ve been able to test the new “Flagship” application which is a few weeks away from our first Release. So far we have received rave reviews on all aspects of the application and the development process.
I was able to expand my testing skills by learning the nuances of SPA (single page application) testing. This has been a fun and challenging experience, mostly because it isn’t done much yet so there few resources out there geared specifically toward SPA testing.
I was also able to dabble in automation testing for SPAs. Since this type of application is client-side heavy, the true value comes from exercising it through the browser. Many automation solutions and supporters prefer testing the code directly (via APIs or a test harnesses), bypassing the browser. That has made this learning process more of a struggle for me then I had expected.
If you follow my blog at all you’ll know I’m also a uTest fan boy and freelance tester. I’ve already wrote a blog post about my uTest experiences this year, so I’ll just give an updated summary:
- Team Test Lead
- Became a solid iOS tester
- Worked with and learned from testers all over the world
- 200 cycles/425 bugs
- 94% bug approval rate/44% high-value rate
- Gold Rated (99.75%)
Improved Online Presence
One of the most valuable and educational aspects of this year was my decision to join and contribute to the testing community. I started this blog to chronicle my career development. I only found the time for 11 posts but I was able to post regularly… well kind of.
I spent most of my time focused on the uTest community. I became a uMentor, a forum moderator and one of the most active forum members. My topics have generated hundreds of responses and over 20,000 views. I’m now seeing more and more new uTesters step up and contribute to the growth of the forum and the uTest community which is fantastic!
I was also featured on the uTest blog a few times:
- Guest blogger – http://blog.utest.com/guest-post-utest-my-first-100-cycles/2012/10/
- Contributor – http://blog.utest.com/2012-utest-community-tester-experiences-a-year-in-review/2012/12/
- Inspired by one of my forum topics – http://blog.utest.com/the-evolution-of-a-software-tester/2012/07/
I have learned so much from writing about testing, teaching new testers, and learning from others. I’d say that focusing on developing my online presence has had the largest impact in my growth as a professional tester.
In addition to testing, I’m also extremely interested in software development processes and improving efficiency, specifically the Scrum development framework. Since I had a few years of Scrum experience, I volunteered to be a Scrum Master for the “flagship” product I mentioned above. As word of that project’s success got around, I became a champion for Scrum in our organization. I was able to coach POs, Developers, Customers, and Managers and am currently Scrum Mastering 2 projects. I was asked to give an “Introduction to Scrum” presentation to our department during one of our Lunch & Learn sessions and since then one group has started their own project using Scrum.
To complement and improve my real-world experiences, I attended a Scrum Master course and then passed both the Scrum Alliance and Scrum.org Scrum Master certifications.
So cheers 2012; you’ve been swell. I look forward to meeting you 2013. I know you have many fun and challenging experiences in store.
Maybe I’m just too sensitive (I have been watching a lot of romantic comedies lately), but there are certain “testing” words that really bother me. Either they are way overused or they are used incorrectly or whatever. I just felt I needed to vent
So, here are my top 5 testing words (phrases) that annoy the heck out of me:
It depends -When does it ever NOT depend? how is this helpful? Would you just take a stance for crying out loud?
QA -This is used way to often and it is usually used incorrectly. QA stands for Quality Assurance. Quality Assurance is process oriented and focuses on defect prevention. It is a term typically used in manufacturing. We are in the defect identification and information providing business. We are not QA people, we don’t do QA. We are testers, we test!
Sapient – Yeah, I get it. You used a smart sounding word to describe testing activities so that testers sound smart. Good one. Go away….
Heuristics – I’m still recovering from how impressed I was by sapient.
Craft – I really don’t know why this one bothers me so much but I absolutely CRINGE anytime I read or hear it. Nails on a chalkboard for me.
So, what testing buzz words annoy you?
This is intended to be a fun rant. If you use these words and I’ve offended you, my reaction would depend on several factors. Maybe you should QA this post relying on your sapient abilities. Following a heuristic, take the opportunity to hone your craft. AHHHHGGGG!!!
If you have ever tried to take a video of a bug on your phone or tablet (Or if you are a test lead or developer trying to view them) you know it can be a challenge. If you you don’t know what you’re doing, your video can difficult to view and understand.
This is my first instructional video and it’s simply awful 🙂 Hopefully these tips will help to ensure your audience can get the full value from your videos.
One thing I want to point out. When I was using my iPhone to take the video of the Kindle, you’ll notice that my phone is in the portrait position. Videos taken in this orientation are saved sideways when you try to view them on a computer. To overcome that problem, simply make sure your phone is in landscape position when you are filming.
You can buy a Clingo stand for yourself here:
I was recently asked to do a “Tester Spotlight” video for uTest. I talked a little about my experiences with uTest and my testing philosophy. You can also see my amazing juggling skills!
Check it out HERE
I recently was able to attend STPCon in Miami. It was my first conference and I really enjoyed it. Here are some of my highlights.
People I met
I finally got to meet a few members of the uTest staff. Jessica, Matt, Mike, and Chris were all there slinging swag and preaching the uTest gospel. It was nice to get some face time with those folks. Unfortunately we didn’t have a uTest meet up. Maybe next time.
I did get to meet a former uTester, Joseph Ours. I talked with him for a while about his experiences with uTest and how he has made the transition into management and consulting. Joe is a knowledgeable and well-spoken guy. I really enjoyed getting to know him. Too bad he’s not an active uTester anymore, I would love the chance to work with him.
Hands-on vs. Lecture format
There was a track of 7 classes that focused on hands-on practicals. It seemed like a cool idea to me, so I spent the first 3 sessions in hands-on classes. While they were interesting and it was fun to test with other testers, I didn’t really learn anything. It was more like “Here’s a program, lets think of ways to test it”. I do that every day when I test with uTest. I wasn’t there to test, I was there to learn how to become a better tester.
While I can see the value of the hands-on classes for people who don’t have the luxury of contently testing new things with new people, for me it wasn’t the best use of my limited and expensive time. (I was there on my own dime)
After I realized that, I switched over to the lecture/discussion sessions and really found a lot of value there. Most of those sessions weren’t lectures but more of someone sharing their experience or suggesting ideas on how to do things better. The dialog between the presenters and the audience was also great. There was lots of idea sharing and discussions.
Mike Lyles of Lowes gave a two part talk about how Lowes created a Test Center of Excellence (TCoE). It was extremely useful for me to see what a mature testing organization looks like and how it functions. It helped me start to develop my long term vision for my testing organization.
I also enjoyed Joseph Ours’s talk about “Redefining the purpose of software testing”. Simply put, he was making the argument that testing teams should be looked at as information providers, not gate keepers or decision makers. I have been making this argument for a while now but had been looking at it the wrong way. I thought it just was the definition of what testers should do. His explanation showed me that it actually can be an effective way to explain the value that testing provides. Testing is a service. We provide information to make informed decisions.
One lady in the audience challenged Joe saying that she is the test lead as well as the gate keeper and that in her organization it works fine. Joe and her debated a bit but she wasn’t convinced. After the presentation Joe and I chatted about that point more and realized that we need to think of roles and people separately. A testers role is to discover and provide information. A decision makers role is to make decisions based, in part, on that information. Usually those role are divided between two different people (or groups of people) but in some cases, it may be the same person.
In her case, she led the testing team, but she also had additional business knowledge and the authority necessary to be able to decide when the product was fit for delivery.
Not so great
The Vendor showcase was disappointing. There were only 10 or so booths. I talked to most of them in under an hour and spent the rest of the time trolling around the uTest booth sharing my uTest testimony with anyone who would listen 🙂
I’m glad I was able to make it down to STPCon. I got to meet some great people, learn a few things, and get a better understanding of our industry in general. It was a valuable experience and am looking forward to attending next year. Maybe I’ll see you there.
So I’m a little late, I’m actually at 138 cycles, but I wanted to give an update on my uTest experience now that I’ve got 100 cycles under my belt.
When I first signed up with uTest I set a few goals. I really had no idea how realistic they were, but you have to at least have something to shoot for right?
By the end of 2012 (9 months from when I started) I wanted to:
- Earn my gold badge in Functional testing
- Become a TTL (Test Team Lead)
- Develop a strong reputation within the uTest community
I got my functional badge within 30 days of my first test cycle. At first this was actually a disappointment. I was really looking forward to the challenge of having to work hard for that badge.
After the initial shock wore off I decided that it actually was an accomplishment to be proud of. I realized that uTest has created an efficient system that allows strong testers to bubble up to the top quickly which makes sense when you think about it. Why would they want to hold good testers back? You want your best testers out front setting an example and representing the company.
Three months in, I got the email I had been anxiously waiting for; I had been invited to be a TTL! A rite of passage to become a TTL is you have to manage a sandbox class. Working that cycle was the most difficult thing I’ve done at uTest so far. Working with and evaluating 100 rookie testers, triaging their 400+ bugs and test cases in just a week is grueling to say the least. But the sense of accomplishment at the end made it all worth it. Since then, it’s been a fantastic experience working closely with the PMs while helping guide the testers so they can develop and become successful.
My approach to this goal was to focus on the uTest form. The forum is an amazing community full of talented testers from all over the world. Every day there is are several interesting conversations going on. We constantly learn new things while challenging and encouraging each other.
After a few months of active participation, I was asked to become a uMentor and a forum moderator. Basically my role is to spark discussions and debates as well as write educational “mentoring” posts.
Before I started working at uTest maybe 10 other people knew I was a tester (That includes my mother). Now literally hundreds of people read my posts and engage in awesome discussions with me every week. So far, the conversations I’ve started have generated over 13,000 views.
I’m not sure I’ve fully achieved this goal yet, but I’m on my way.
To quantify my time at uTest so far and to brag a little 🙂 here are my digits:
- Products Tested: 70
- Test Cycles: 138
- Bugs Filed: 342
- Bug Acceptance: 93.2%
- High Value Bugs: 47%
- Functional Rating: 99.3% – 99.7%
You can see my uTest profile here: https://my.utest.com/platform/profile/LucasDargis
Without a doubt, joining uTest has been the biggest factor in the development of my career. I have grown more in the last 7 months then I ever expected. I was able to achieve all my goals and then some.
Here is a short list of the amazing opportunities uTest provides testers:
- The opportunity to work for every type of company. You are able to see how testing is done from start-ups to big Fortune 100 companies. Every cycle adds to your experience and helps open your mind to the many different ways testing is approached.
- The opportunity to work with and learn from people from all over the world. I’ve made friends in the UK, India, Romania, Brazil, etc. The global exposure is priceless.
- The uTest forum is relatively new and the number of active contributors is still small, but since the uTest community is so large (60,000+ testers) the potential is huge. There is an excellent opportunity for testers to get in on the ground floor and quickly establish themselves in a community that is evolving into an industry leader.
- There are several leadership opportunities. You can become a TTL, a forum moderator, a uMentor, and a Gold-rated tester. Being active in discussions on the form or in your test cycle (providing help, answering questions) are informal ways to develop your leadership skills.
You may have noticed that I haven’t talked about money at all. That is because for me, getting paid at uTest is an extra bonus. I can always make money, but it’s these other aspects that provide the most value to me as a tester.
100 cycles down. Next stop, 1000 bugs!