Thursday 1 September 2011

The Plan

What is more important:
  • Knowing and understanding the application you’re testing
  • Being able to visualise how you are going to approach the testing
I suspect the answer is it depends.

From my experience, both are required for good testing. Knowing the application, its ins and outs and having the domain knowledge should help test design. Or, from the opposite point of view, not knowing how the application works will mean you won’t know anything about (any) coverage so you’re likely to miss out on bugs.

Being able to visualise your plan of attack means you know what you’re going to test, what areas of the application will be tested and which areas you can ignore (at least for the time being). This provides a structure that you can work in. Not having this can either make the testing daunting or allow the testing to go off on tangents.

This is why I like Session Based Test Management. SBTM provides enough structure and a plan to guide the testing but still allows flexibility for the tester learns more about the application and/or finds bugs, especially if the tester is new to the application and needs to get to grips with it.

I’ve found Rob Lambert and Darren MacMillan often write about visualising their testing or ideas (using mind maps, drawings, call flows). Here are their blogs to find out more:


  1. Andy, I think that no knowledge at all, or close to none, can be a great asset when starting to test. The tabula rasa will be filled piece by piece as the software is explored and the tester can form his/her own opinion without bias from preconception due to knowledge of the software. Of course it depends on the context. It's might not be to everyone's taste to test like that but if I can find a tester willing to do it like this I find that a great addition to a team familiar with the software and/or domain.

    Other than that I totally agree that visualising is a great tool and skill that will help. It's like an athlete visualising her goal in order to prepare for reaching it.

    I always enjoy your posts and I do love your cartoons. Hopefully I'll see you in Manchester in November.

  2. Hi Ola,
    Thanks for your comment.
    Very interesting. You would only have a tester who doesn't know the system if you already have a tester/s who does. Right? So if it's a one person team then that wouldn't be an option.
    But having said that, by exploring the application (or ET), the unknowing tester will gain knowledge of the app, by testing it directly, using similar apps and reading up on relevant materials.
    Glad to hear you're enjoying the posts.
    Hopefully see you at EuroSTAR although it's not guaranteed I can make it yet.