James Bach’s Open Lecture on Software Testing


I got to talk to James Bach last week at StarWest 2011 in Anaheim. I joined his Critical Thinking class for its final 2 hours on Tuesday after walking out on my boring afternoon half-day tutorial on Open Source tools.

I was surprised when I was able to catch up to and chat with him after the class. I asked about the books he recommended that were on sale at the convention at which point he gave me his copy of Captivating Lateral Thinking Puzzles he’d shown in class. (Thank you, although my girlfriend finds it amusing to open the book and quiz me randomly.) In our chat I told him I enjoyed this Open Lecture:

Some point during our conversation I asked when he would be doing another open lecture and where it would be (hoping it would be somewhere near SoCal). After detailing his itinerary he came to the realization everywhere else in the world except in the US he does open lectures. Sad. (In this instance an open lecture is where someone hires James to speak and then anyone who’s interested can join by purchasing a ticket.)

In this video James is doing an open lecture at a Estonia IT College. He uses some new and familiar terminology that I’ve listed below. I need to work on becoming a professional skeptic!

A quick summary of the testing terminology used:

  • Decision coverage
  • Predicate coverage
  • All-Path coverage
  • Click frenzy
  • Rumble strip heuristic
  • Error message hangover
  • Shoe test
  • Brancing and backtesting
  • Follow up testing

James Bach and Michael Bolton both use critical thinking puzzels in their lectures. The two puzzles in this video are the flow chart and calculator. I think the calculator problem could be used to interview some to help identify someone’s thinking pattern.