When you want to join the testing community there are a few things you need to know. Testing is much more than exploring a platform, discovering some supposedly obvious UI errors (e.g. a button that is not working), or working all by yourself. I have to admit that these were some of my thoughts before I started BBST® Foundations. This course was a strong starting point in my career that fixed some of my testing biases, or “thinking errors” as I like to call them.
Here are 5 such thoughts and how they changed after completing BBST® Foundations:
1. What could be that complex in finding bugs?
Before completing the course, whenever I would find a bug in a particular app I was using as a simple user, I would immediately say to myself “Oh, so this is the job of a tester? Finding these bugs? What could be that hard about this job? I could easily do that…”. I was probably seeing some apparent problems in those applications, which other users might identify as well.
Following BBST® Foundations lessons, I learned about multiple perspectives from which an application can be tested, so it was clear to me that it’s not just about noticing some obvious bugs and writing about them. For example, maybe from the developer’s perspective, the app works perfectly fine and all the functionalities pass all the tests, but users find it difficult to access some features because of the position of the elements.
In addition to the above, there is a wide variety of areas that need to be considered for testing, fields that depend on your testing mission. We test for a better understanding of the quality of the product, and quality is subjective to each person that contributes to developing, creating, analyzing, and using the product. My perception is that the type of testing you’re going to do will depend on your information objectives – the types of information that your stakeholders need.
I realized that it’s not always about finding bugs. If my test passes, I still discover something – the app behaves correctly under some specific circumstances. Testers might not find bugs in each testing session.
2. The tester is a lone wolf and doesn’t need anybody else.
During the 4-week course, the instructors encourage us to form a community. They’ve created multiple contexts for us to ask questions, give feedback to each other on exercises, find solutions together, and share different aspects.
I started my testing journey with a particular fear: that feeling you get when you wake up alone, in a completely new place, where people probably don’t speak the same language as you. In this scenario, I, as a tester, was about to do my work alone and try to analyze the language of my foreign peers (developers, project managers, stakeholders etc.). Despite having these insecurities, the way of working that the instructors promote in the BBST® Foundations course helped me develop my critical thinking and to use abstraction as part of my cognitive process more often. These skills guided me to approach testing with collaboration in mind.
Through BBST®, I discovered the power of the online community of testers. I realized that there are many online testing forums where you can ask questions and debate ideas. What one might need is the same language and the same concepts, which BBST® Foundations offers to its students.
3. Testers just test. They don’t get involved in other dimensions of the project.
On a specific project, your mission is typically to achieve your primary information objective. For example, if your group is tasked with investigating compatibility of a program with a new operating system, your mission is to get that information.
Having the testing mission, BBST® Foundations guides to construct a testing strategy based on the interest of who required specific information, for example, sales team, marketing team, important stakeholders, developers, etc. They are testing from various points of view in order to answer the question “what kind of information are we most focused on learning from this testing?”.
Whether we are talking about finding the application’s most important bugs, helping managers make release decisions, or assessing conformance with specifications, by minimizing the risk of safety-related lawsuits, it also helps to know the history of the project, the documentation of the software, the expectations of the stakeholders, developers, users, advertising representatives, frontend developers, etc.
For example, if a testers’ information objective is to find safe scenarios to present in a demo for the clients, he needs to interpret how a simple user may handle the software. He would have to look for which scenarios are safe to present that will not uncover unwanted bugs during the presentation. In contrast, an example where a tester looks at the software from a developer’s point of view is the analysis of the code; they’ll see whether or not the code is easy to maintain, whether there are risks of bugs due to architecture or code duplication, etc.
What helped me understand the value of perceiving a project from different angles were the practical examples given in BBST® and their analysis according to the information objective.
4. The software is tested after I’ve run all the tests.
BBST® helped me realize that one cannot complete all the possible tests, therefore testers have to decide when to stop testing. This means that testers cannot accurately say that there are no more bugs in the software, as they cannot consider all the distinct test cases (because of the huge amount of data they have to take into account). Two tests are distinct if one test would expose a bug that the other test would miss.
For complete testing, we are talking about testing every possible input, every sequence in the program, testing for interference with other programs operating at the same time, etc. Could you do all of them? My first answer was “yes”, but that was before having my current knowledge about the testing world. Through BBST® Foundations, I’ve realized that there are plenty of input options, hundreds of sequences, and in some cases you might enjoy some Easter Eggs from the app.
Instead, we should talk about achieving high testing coverage.
5. I want to test this app, but I don’t know where to start.
Before BBST® Foundations, I didn’t really know where to start testing an application, especially if there were no obvious problems to report. I had difficulties in abstracting a new application. I imagined that I needed to figure it out as soon as possible and that I immediately had to find a problem with it (because otherwise, it means that I wasn’t testing it).
Today, I read the lines above and I realize that I have a completely different perspective. The course taught me to take things gradually.
After the previous process, I need to follow the mission of my testing. This emerges from the information I receive from the stakeholder. I learned that I need to ask myself what are the most efficient ways to achieve it. As the BBST® Foundations teaches, here we can talk about resources (time, money, tools, etc), risks that this project might have, knowledge and skills, and what is hard/easy/cheap (etc.) in a project environment. After taking all of these aspects into consideration, this course gives a set of fundamental informational resources that testers can combine in order to achieve their testing mission.
My takeaway keywords: testing mission, objectives, strategy. It’s a whole art I would say! I read about these keywords in many other articles, but probably if I hadn’t followed the BBST® Foundation course from the beginning of my testing journey, I would have put them together more slowly.
Now, I am able to clarify my testing mission, to follow distinct information objectives (and summarize the results), to test the app from various points of view and, also, I am enjoying a good collaboration with my colleagues in our testing mission. We explore different perspectives and learn from each other.
Last thought, but not least, I can’t wait for the next BBST® courses in order to find out what other thinking errors I can fix.
Elisa Szilagyi has graduated from her first BBST® course, Foundations in 2022. She is a passionate software tester, engaged in her local community, and looking to expand her abilities and share with others her knowledge.
Tomas Straka, 8 reasons why BBST is not another certification course
Andrei Pirvulescu, My experience with BBST Foundations