I was recently talking with someone about their testing strategy and process when I noticed they were trying to build overly-detailed test scripts (procedures). It didn’t take them long to realize specifying to such detail often left them bored (writing became redundant) and so each test became less and less detailed. I offered to take a look at their tests to see if I could help improve things and as I saw, what I consider to be, their “typical” scripted tests with each line having a step and expected result I started thinking of something Pete Walen once said:
…and nothing else funny happened.Peter Walen, STPCon
Pete Walen dropped this gem at STPCon in San Diego a few years ago during Matt Heusser’s talk Where do Bugs Come From? Matt had just shown the Moonwalking Bear video:
I’d guesstimate at least half of the packed room hadn’t seen this. The discussion turned to scripted testing and the inherent problem of in-attentional blindness. Pete shared a past experience where he told some testers he was working with to include the phrase in the expected results of their scripted tests. It’s a kind-of-heuristic to help someone remember, even though they are focusing on one thing at depth, they need to be aware of the potentially many other things going on so that “nothing else funny happens”.
It was such a simple, powerful idea it continues to stick with me, especially when I see someone trying to specify “most everything” in their scripted tests.
As it happens, this post coincides with STPCon 2015 back in San Diego right now. There looks like a lot of awesome speakers (Matt Heusser, Michael Larsen, and Smita Mishra) but I’m particularly intrigued by Andy Tinkham’s High Volume Automation in Practice and Dave Haeffner’s Using Selenium Successfully. I wonder, is anyone live blogging?