Posted on March 8, 2011 in Uncategorized by adam1 Comment »

I have only ever casually tested a Facebook app (which now appears offline), but were I to, I think use a checklist that looks something like this to guide my thoughts.

  • Sound, if present, can be disabled – One Mahjong game I play doesn’t have this option and is really annoying (and if it wasn’t for my wife having a score 1500 points more than me I wouldn’t play it at all).
  • No [obvious] algorithm problem – Another Mahjong game I have played in the past will stack the tiles sometimes in a way that it is impossible to complete the level
  • Spelling things correctly!
  • Good use of the Facebook API?
  • Cool use of the Facebook API? – My locale on Facebook is Pirate right now…
  • Non-scumbag use of the Facebook API? – Things like posting to my wall without prompting me each time count as scumbag moves.
  • Duration of activity – The apps I go back to most often have a timeboxed activity length. And that timebox is small; one or two minutes tops
  • [General] Re-playability – Is there ever a reason for me to come back?
  • [Daily] Re-playability – Is there something to entice me to come back tomorrow? And the next day? And the day after?
  • [Session] Re-playability – Can I sit here for 3 hours playing with the app? Not that I’ve lost entire days on Battle Tetris… No, certainly not.
  • Don’t be a Ponzi scheme – Some apps I’ve seen unlock certain behaviour only when you spam x number of friends with invites and/or they use the app. As soon as I hit that ponzi-wall, I’m out of there.
  • Security – Is communication to the host server encrypted? I have a plugin for Firefox that lets me post any score I want back to Bejeweled Blitz…

No doubt this grossly simplifies things, but I suspect it could generate a lot of testing ideas. Which is exactly what a good checklist does.

Posted on March 1, 2011 in Uncategorized by adam2 Comments »

One of the part of James’ recent post that people have latched on to is this sentence.

Context-driven testers strive to become the Jedi knights of testing.

So I wouldn’t call myself a hard-core Star Wars geek, but I do know a significant amount about the Star Wars Universe. (I lived in Grand Cayman during kindergarten and grade one and we had a bootleg vhs of the first movie so I must have seen it a couple hundred times by the time I was 7.)

Now, I’m all for Star Wars metaphors but I think think the Jedi one is dangerous from a geek perspective.

See, the Jedi started out as a noble but then became obsessed with maintaining their own power base, fractious and increasingly irrelevant. And then they were wiped out by forces they denied existed until it was too late.

But it gets scarier if you dig a little further beyond the movies and into official (and unofficial sources).

  • To become a Jedi requires the deepest commitment and most serious mind. It is not a venture to be undertaken lightly. As such, Jedi instruction is rigidly structured and codified to enforce discipline and hinder transgression. – Right; discipline and seriousness to the craft is important. Don’t step out of bounds though? That’s kinda Factory School in its thinking.
  • While the Jedi undoubtedly saved many lives through their duties, many disenchanted citizens saw only their failures.
  • The way of the Jedi had become the way of wisdom and patience, backed by swift and decisive action when necessary. However, the Jedi Council sometimes showed what appeared to be a lack of decisiveness, such as during the Mandalorian Wars, preferring to work with events and patterns over the long term. Their inaction spurred Revan to fight back, and eventually led to the Jedi Civil War. To the rest of the galaxy, the line between Jedi and Sith became blurred during the conflict, and both sides were blamed for the destruction wrought on worlds such as Katarr, Telos IV, and Dantooine. – civil war and splintered factions. That never happens in the testing world.
  • Uncomfortable emotions such as hate, anger, and fear were thought to be destructive and lead to the dark side, so such things were banned from Jedi practice. – emotions are essential for testing.
  • Etcetera

However there is hope to to the use of the Jedi as a goal to be striven for. And that lies in the Gray Jedi.

The term Gray Jedi, or Gray, had two meanings. First, it was used by Jedi and Sith to describe Force-users who walked the line between the light and dark sides of the Force without surrendering to the dark side, and second, it described Jedi who distanced themselves from the Jedi High Council and operated outside the strictures of the Jedi Code. However, those who were considered to be true Gray Jedi met both qualifications and did not belong to any particular Force tradition.

This, to me, is exactly what one should be aiming to be — sticking with the metaphor that is. One can use the technique that is appropriate at the time for the task, relies on their own moral and ethical compass. Here is another blurb.

“The so-called gray Jedi have been with us since the beginning. Although they do not break with the Jedi orthodoxy concerning the dark side, they bristle when asked to take orders from the Council. Gray Jedi make compromises, cut corners, and hide their actions from scrutiny, all under the assumption that their experience makes them authorities on policy. They are mavericks who are difficult to control, but can be valued members of the Order after they have been persuaded to follow the established hierarchy.”

Put in the context of the authoritarian Jedi High Council this is often how the Context folks are seen. 92 page IEE829 compliant test plan? Not needed; let me test instead.

So context driven testers striving to be a Jedi knight is a worthy goal — as long as you provide context around which kind of Jedi knight you are aiming to be.