Spice Up Your Testing Data – Boil em, Mash em, Stick em in a Stew!

It’s time to get spicy! Before I start delving into the meat and potatoes of this blog’s message, I want to you remind you about the software I work with. It is membership-based, meant to deal with the daily operations of fitness clubs and athletic centers. Members are entered into the system and can sign up for group fitness classes, private lessons, programs, and pay for it all through our software.

The boring part is over! Let’s talk about spicy data. One can only enter the name ‘Test Test’ in as a member a handful of times without boring oneself into oblivion. Given the option, why not use your creativity to come up with data that will tickle your humor? I, myself, have come up with the following names to use during testing:

Gandalf the Grey

Aragorn the Ranger

Samwise Gamgee

Frodo Baggins

Several of my Dungeons & Dragons characters

Candy Corn

Diet Coke

Milky Way … to name a few

Can you tell where my heart lies? Now, I’m not saying that you should include this type of customization for any sort of setup data in UI Automation tests you would want to run. Because that should absolutely remain readable/bearable for your other test teammates and dev pals. As much as I love Lord of the Rings, I know that not everyone does (but really they do). Keep naming devices the same! You can get creative during your own manual testing sessions.

For instance, if you aren’t signing Gandalf the Grey up for a Private Lesson on Cliff-hanging, what are you even doing with your life/work? Make manual testing fun by telling a story. Gotta cancel that private lesson for sword fighting because Aragorn just can’t be in the same class as Sauron? No problem. Realize that you need to take Frodo off Bilbo’s membership since they no longer have the same home address? Easy.

I’ve signed up Samwise Gamgee for a Lembas Bread Baking Class. I’ve made Gandalf the Gray the instructor for a group activity with, you guessed it, all the members of the Fellowship as participants.

I’ve registered ‘Candy Corn’ and ‘Milky Way’ for a Program Package named Eating Sugar.

And yeah, I’ve even signed up Mr. Test for Testing – Beginners. And I can tell you first and foremost, which one of my tests I remember best. IT WAS NOT TEST MCBORINGSON!

I’ve also written a note on Aragorn’s membership profile page instructing the staff member to recite the following upon check-in:

Sons of Gondor, of Rohan, my brothers! I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me. A day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends, and break all bonds of fellowship; but it is not this day! An hour of wolves, and shattered shields, when the Age of Men comes crashing down; but it is not this day! This day we fight! By all that you hold dear on this good earth, I bid you stand, Men of the West!

Now if that doesn’t put a smile on your face, then you clearly just need to watch more Lord of the Rings (the extended editions obviously).

I was new to the Software Test Team in October. I joined a project team that is mainly working on a Scheduling application, and I was doing that remotely at the time. If you have ever worked remotely, you know there are some barriers to work through to break the ice. One of the main ways I was able to do this was with regular weekly meetings via webcam. The other way I was able to do this, was through my own test data.

“What are you talking about, Alex?” – asked no one. Well I’ll tell you what anyways! In my testing on that team, I have used test data that pretty much all references Lord of the Rings. I have added a Location to the Scheduler named Middle Earth. And I have added Mordor, The Shire, Rivendell, Isengard, and more as areas under Middle Earth. I have left too many “they’re taking the hobbits to Isengard” notes in these areas. I have changed my profile picture in our bug ticketing system to be the Eye of Sauron, and I dressed up like the Eye of Sauron for Halloween. I even have an Eye of Sauron Slack emoji named after me. For those of you who don’t know what Slack is, it’s basically modern AIM for adults at work.

But through my use of perhaps over-the-top, obnoxious LOTR references, my team got a real feel for my sense of humor. It gave us a platform of discussion that has since developed into a good working relationship. And now, while I may be that Lord of the Rings Weirdo Tester, I have made myself known, and have made a bond with the test team members, developers, UI designers, and product owners I work with on a regular basis. Data is powerful. And I dare say that THIS DATA helped form our own little Fellowship.

What to expect for the next blog? Let’s talk building strong communication as testers. We interact so often with many different team members on a daily basis. Let’s talk about efficiency and keep something like this from happening:

“And some things that should not have been forgotten were lost. History became legend. Legend became myth. And for two and a half thousand years, the ring passed out of all knowledge.” – Galadriel


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