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When I took part at I lost my heart near Heidelberg… I performed several  freestyle tests. This means that I didn’t had a certain test schedule and had to find my own ways of testing the product. I already blogged about my experience but it took me long time until I learned that I did a kind of prestage of Exploratory Testing. Thomas Ritter told me very early about the concept of Exploratory testing – I think it was at a BOF Session at SAP Community Day in Munich 2007. I am kind of surprised that it took me so long until I learned how useful this concept is.

The Tourist Metaphor

Testing is like exploring a new region. Usually we don’t do this without any preparation – instead we will choose some tours. We can do it all lone in a hiking tour, in a bus tour with other tourist or perhaps we’ll need a guide for a diving tour. In all these cases we explore a new region – but therefore we need a certain preparation: we focus on a certain activity and we have a time schedule.

And this is the essence of Exploratory Testing:

  • Choose a  tour and focus on certain aspect.
  • Perform the tour a limited time.
  • Write down what you are doing.

The Anti-Social Tour

At Customer Engagement Initiative I had to test a very complex configuration and therefore I had precise description consisting of three or more pages that told me exactly what to do. So in a freestyle test I chose a strategy that is called “Anti-Social Tour”. In this tour I did doing exactly the opposite I was told:

  • If there was an input field I typed in very weird input: special cases, I used weird namespaces instead of Z.
  • I had to perform a number of steps in a certain order – which I did not because I tried to change the order of the steps.

In fact I was very productive creating a lot of garbage. And it showed me that it makes sense to limit the time otherwise it is possible that your are

The Supermodel  Tour

The supermodel tour wasn’t part of my freestyle test because there have been test cases that told me to look at the frontend, but I mention it nevertheless. I’m only looking at the surface. Is everything looking fine? Is it according SAP style guide? Is the inline documentation available?

This tour was a great possibility to relay before doing a very difficult tour – the sabotage.

The Sabotage Tour

Saboteurs try to corrupt the system and chose every possibility, even if it’s not “fair”. As ABAP programmer I analyzed the application to test and I found out that different software artefacts have been generated. This is a great opportunity for sabotage:

  • Lock those objects while generation process!
  • Delete parts of them before regeneration!
  • Change the configuration that  controls generation process.

This was a really cool test which required lots investigation and luster for destruction.

More Advanced Aspects

I’m not a testing expert and I have a lot of questions:

  • There are a lot of other tours so my question is: What tour is useful in which context?
  • How to choose the right tour?
  • Is there a preferred order of tours?
  • How can you increase your testing skills especially in exploratory testing?
  • Are there good tool that support creation of test protocols?

Summary

Exploratory testing is very creative and in fact it is pure fun. And, as a consequence, you’ll achieve a deep knowledge of the application, its strengths and weaknesses . Before doing further tests at Custimer Engagement Initiative I’ll do a deeper look at other tours (all nighter, back alley…) to strengthen my testing skills.

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  1. Michelle Crapo
    I like them all.  I struggle with testing.  Of course, I’m testing what I developed.   That means I don’t always test what the customer wants.

    I also love to break things.  If it can be broken – well that’s a good test.  I think that’s the one I use the most.

    And of course formalized testing, but that is a different subject.

    Nice one as usual,

    Michelle

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