The “Test This” game pops up frequently in testing circles. Sometimes it pops up in the “How would you test a …” variety – e.g. How would you test a stapler. Participants in the game are expected to come up with functional tests (can it staple), as well as “out of the box” tests like, “what happens if I drop the stapler off the top of my house” (I guess it’s a form of a reliability test). These are fun games, and while I suppose they do force some creativity, I don’t think they really have anything to do with testing software.
There are better flavors of the Test This game. Sometimes, testers play the Test This game with real software. This form has huge potential, but never really delivers, as the software under test is typically a bug-infested piece of crap that anyone with a pulse could find bugs. Bugs are part of my problem with this form of Test This – the goal of this game is to find bugs – not to test or learn testing. That’s an important distinction for me – the goal of testing isn’t to find bugs. Finding bugs is merely a side-effect of the testing process. I fear that these exercises encourage testers to dive into bug finding before thinking about how to test. To be clear, I’m not talking about big-upfront-test-design – but a holistic approach to testing.
As a side note, I really like what Weekend Testing is doing with the Test This game – sure, they pick some buggy software sometimes, but they also pick real world apps and discuss test design (at the very least, in the debrief).
Here’s an example (I’ve use this one often). This is the Microsoft Word font dialog from Word 2010. If my memory serves me correctly, this version may be less complex than the previous font dialog.
Note: I’m choosing this dialog because it’s interesting. I don’t know who tests this, and I bet they will have much better ideas on how to test this than me, but that doesn’t matter.
Ignoring the advanced tab and the functionality of any of the buttons other than OK or Cancel, how would you test this?
You can spend as much time as you want (or use as little time as you need). I don’t think I care about the actual tests as I care about how you decide what to test.
As always, you don’t need to actually reply to this post – just do the exercise if you want. I’ll write up some thoughts in a week or so and see if they make sense (I don’t think I have any idea where I’m going with this.