Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Google Testing Blog: The FedEx Tour

Google Testing Blog: The FedEx Tour

I appreciate James' offer to talk about how I have used the FedEx tour in Mobile Ads. Good timing too as I just found two more priority 0 bugs with the automation that the FedEx tour inspired! It was fun presenting this at STAR and I am pleased so many people attended.

Mobile has been a hard problem space for testing: a humongous browser, phone, capability combination which is changing fast as the underlying technology evolves. Add to this poor tool support for the mobile platform and the rapid evolution of the device and you'll understand why I am so interested in advice on how to do better test design. We've literally tried everything, from checking screen shots of Google's properties on mobile phones to treating the phone like a collection of client apps and automating them in the UI button-clicking traditional way.

Soon after James joined Google in May 2009, he started introducing the concept of tours, essentially making a point of "structured" exploratory testing. Tours presented a way for me to look at the testing problem in a radical new way. Traditionally, the strategy is simple, focus on the end user interaction, and verify the expected outputs from the system under test. Tours (at least for me) change this formula. They force the tester to focus on what the software does, isolating the different moving parts of software in execution, and isolating the different parts of the software at the component (and composition) level. Tours tell me to focus on testing the parts that drive the car, rather than on whether or not the car drives. This is somewhat counter intuitive I admit, that's why it is so important. The real value add of the tours comes from the fact that they guide me in testing those different parts and help me analyze how different capabilities inter-operate. Cars will always drive you off the lot, which part will break first is the real question.

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