Thursday, September 01, 2016

Happy Labor Day and The Software Quality Perspective

I hope you are having a great week. Me? I'm looking forward to a weekend Labor Day holiday with family and friends. To kick it off, I'm getting a cavity filled tomorrow!

For those of us in the USA, the Labor Day holiday is to commemorate the contributions of working people and labor unions. Since I have worked in IT most of my working years, I have never belonged to a union, so I'll just speak briefly here to the work ethic in software quality. However, I think much of this could apply to other fields as well.

Like you, perhaps, I have been on projects that required extreme effort and commitment to complete. Even then, some of the projects failed.

Over my 25+ years in software testing consulting, I have heard people complain about how difficult some tasks can become. My reply is something along the lines of, "Yes, that why we call it work."

I have also worked for managers that were totally clueless when it came to how to treat people. These managers expected 100% availability, no allowance for sickness or family emergencies, provided no training or encouragement to the team, and generally created a work environment that was de-motivating in nature. That is the dark side of work, in my opinion.

If I had to capsulize what a person should bring to a project, they would include:
  • Motivation - Passion for the job
  • Skills - Knowing how to do the job, and continuously learning new skills
  • Creativity - Being able to do things differently and better
  • Problem solving - So that the team lead doesn't have to do everything
  • Integrity - Doing the right thing when no one is looking
  • Caring - For the quality of work performed, and for the welfare of others
  • Vision - To see the big picture of what they are doing
  • Calling - To know why they are doing what they are doing
  • Respect - For others, for other people's ideas, for leaders

You might have other things that would fit well on the list. By the way, my two favorite books on this topic are "Peopleware" by DeMarco and Lister, and "The Mythical Man-Month" by Fred Brooks.

So, relax this weekend and enjoy the fruit of your labor. Ironically, some people will not be able to do that. They will be working. This normally includes law enforcement, military, medical professionals, broadcasters, and people working tech support, food service and retail. I salute those fine people and wish them safety in what they do.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Recording and Slides From Today's Webinar on Decision Tables

Thanks to everyone that attended today's webinar on decision tables. For those that could not get in
due to capacity limits, I apologize.

However, here are the slides:

And here is the recording:

I am happy to answer any questions by e-mail, phone or Skype. If you want to arrange a session, my contact info is on the final slide.

Thanks again,


Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Lessons Learned in Test Automation Through Sudoku

For many years, I have recommended Sudoku as a mind training game for testers. I think Sudoku requires some of the same thinking skills that testers need, such as the ability to eliminate invalid possibilities, deduce correct answers and so forth.

Much like an application that may lack documentation, Sudoku only gives you a partial solution and you have to fill in the rest. Unlike software, however, guessing actually prevents you from solving the puzzle - mainly because you don't see the impact of an incorrect guess until it is too late to change it.

My friend, Frank Rowland, developed an Excel spreadsheet some time ago, that he used to help solve Sudoku puzzles by adding macros to identify cells that had only one possible correct value. At the time, I thought that was pretty cool. Of course, you still had to enter one value at a time manually. But I thought it was a good example of using a degree of automation to solve a problem.

Fast forward to last week. I was having lunch with Frank and he whips out his notebook PC and shows me the newest version of the spreadsheet. After listening to a math lecture from The Great Courses, he learned some new approaches for solving Sudoku.

Armed with this new information, Frank was successful in practically automating the solution of a Sudoku puzzle. I say "practically" because at times, some human intervention is required.

Now, I think the spreadsheet is very cool and I think that the approach used to solve the puzzle can also be applied to test automation. The twist is that the automation is not pre-determined as far as the numeric values are concerned. The numbers are derived totally dynamically.

Contrast this with traditional test automation. In the traditional approach to test automation (even keyword-driven), you would be able to place numbers in the cells, but only in a repeatable way - not a dynamic way.

In Franks's approach, the actions are determined based on the previous actions and outcomes. For example, when a block of nine cells are filled, that drives the possible values in related cells. The macros in this case know how to deduce the other possibilities and also can eliminate the invalid possibilities. In this case of "Man vs. Machine", the machine wins big time.

I don't have all the answers and I know that work has been done by others to create this type of dynamic test automation. I just want to present the example and would love to hear your experiences in similar efforts.

I think the traditional view of test automation is limited and fragile. It has helped in establishing repeatable tests for some applications, but the problem is that most applications are too dynamic. This causes the automation to fail. At that point, people often get frustrated and give up.

I've been working with test automation since 1989, so I have seen a lot of ideas come down the pike. I really like the possibilities of test automation with AI.

I hope to get a video posted soon to show more about how this works. Once again, I would also love to hear your feedback.  

Friday, July 01, 2016

ASTQB Mobile Tester Certification - Live Virtual Classes in August and September, 2016

According to a very recent survey published by Techwell, only 25% of respondents felt they had the knowledge/skills and tools needed for testing mobile applications!

That needs to change and I have just the way to do it.

I am launching a new schedule of live virtual training courses for this new certification from the ASTQB, starting August 9 – 11. 

I have been holding off offering this course as a live virtual course until I was 100% positive you would feel fully engaged while taking the course. I have developed a technique that I feel will keep you engaged in the material and prepare you for the exam. (By the way, the exam is not included in the cost of this course but you can add the $150 exam to your registration.)

Also, let me encourage you to keep building new skills in testing. Mobile testing is a great specialty area and it is also a great skill set to have in your career. The time to learn mobile testing is NOW. Don't wait until your employer is looking to build that special team...or (and I hope this never happens in bad way, but...) if you are looking for employment.

I will be the instructor for all presentations of this course. I am a co-author of the ASTQB Mobile Tester syllabus and author of this course. This course is fully accredited by the ASTQB. And...I have been teaching mobile testing since 2001!  You get personal access to me throughout the course and after the course to ask any questions.

This course covers all aspects of mobile testing. More about the live virtual classes can be found here:

and the course brochure is here:

In the most recent ASTQB newsletter that was published on Tuesday, I have an offer of 15% off any ASTQB Mobile Testing course – live or e-learning. Just use promo code “MOBILE15” when paying for your registration. This offer is only good through August 15. For more details on this course or to register, please visit

If you want to learn more about the ASTQB Mobile Tester certification, just go to:

I hope to see you there!


Friday, May 06, 2016

ISTQB Advanced Level Security Tester Certification Officially Available!

I am very excited to announce that the ISTQB Advanced Security Tester certification is officially available. I am the chair of the effort to write the syllabus for this certification. It took us over 5 years to complete this project. We had input from security testers worldwide.

The syllabus is not yet posted on the ASTQB web site, but it will be available there very soon. It will take training providers such as myself a while to create courses and get them accredited, but they will also be out in the marketplace in the coming weeks and months.

Cybersecurity is a very important concern for every person and organization. However, only a small percentage of companies perform continuous security testing to make sure security measures are working as designed. This certification prepares people to work at an advanced level in cybersecurity as security testers. This is a great specialty area for testers looking to branch out into a new field - or to show their knowledge as security testers.

Below is a diagram showing the topics in the certification (click to enlarge):

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Coming to Dallas/Ft. Worth - Testing Mobile Applications - ASTQB Certification Course - April 19 - 20, 2016

I hope you can join me for this special course presentation for the new Certified Mobile Tester (CMT) designation from the American Software Testing Qualifications Board.

We will be in the DFW area (Irving, TX) on the dates of Tuesday, April 19 and Wednesday, April 20 at the Holiday Inn Express - 4235 West Airport Freeway, Irving, TX 75062

Seating is limited, so I recommend registering as soon as possible to get your place. (This class size is limited to 15 people.)

To register:

About the Course and Certification

In the fall of 2015, the ASTQB (of which I am on the board of directors) felt there was a compelling need for testers to have a robust and meaningful certification focused on testing mobile applications. So, we set about writing a syllabus and exam for that certification. I was honored to contribute as a co-author of the syllabus. At the present, this is a certification only offered by the ASTQB.

To learn more about the certification, see the syllabus and sample exam, just go to:

To see the course outline, go to:

There are no pre-requisites for this certification! While we reference concepts from the ISTQB Foundation Level, everything you need to know is taught in this course.

We have exercises to reinforce key concepts and sample exams after each module to give you a taste of what to expect on the actual exam. You can also bring your own mobile device as a way to perform the exercises, although this is not required.

Costs and Logistics

Cost: $1,500 USD per person, plus exam ($150).

You can attend the course without taking the exam. However, we will be offering a live exam at the end of the 2nd day.

There will also be the option to take the exam later electronically, if you desire. However, we need to know your preference 2 weeks in advance.

This class will be streamed live, so if you want to attend virtually, that is possible. There is a $100 discount for virtual attendees. Virtual attendees in the USA will receive a course notebook in advance of the training and will also have access to the e-learning course at no extra cost.

For teams of 3 or more, there is a 10% discount of the course registration fee. The exams are not discounted.

We will not have breakfast items, however, we will have a light lunch (pizza, sandwiches, etc.) brought in each day. Please let us know if you have any dietary needs or requests.

Important Notice for Those Who Plan to Travel to DFW to Attend

Please do not book any non-refundable travel (air fare, hotel, etc.) until we confirm the class. We make every attempt to not cancel a class, but sometimes this is unavoidable. We make the call about 2 - 3 weeks in advance of the class, or earlier, if possible.

We located this class to be close to the DFW airport for the convenience of those who may be traveling in for the class. The hotel runs a free airport shuttle.

You are responsible for making your own hotel reservations.

If you plan to take the exam on Day 2, the exam will take place from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.  Please allow adequate time to catch your flight. The hotel is 6.4 miles from the DFW airport.

Other Questions?

Feel free to call our office with any questions or special needs - 405-691-8075.