Exploratory Testing TestChat

So tonights TestChat on Exploratory testing was a super busy one! I thought it would be good to summarise some of the replies here.

Q1. What do you feel the value of exploratory testing is compared to other testing activities?

A summary of the answers:
Speed, learning and a human centred approach were big themes in the responses to this question.

Speed in that testers can quickly learn about the software they are testing and in an engaging way. When they are exploring, they can change direction of the test as they learn. They can find bugs quicker and earlier in the process. They can use that information immediately which “creates purpose-driven conversations” as @simon_tomes said.

Testers are able to use their brain more by exploring rather than following a script verbatim which can be boring. They are also able to spend more time approaching the product in a similar fashion to how end users might, as they don’t follow test scripts or follow exact steps. By using this approach, you can explore the edge cases more and see what the product is capable of doing rather than does it do one thing as intended.

@friendlytester highlighted “I feel it forces me to listen to my inner self. What can I see, is it important, where else can I look. With a check, I’m narrow focused. Both have their place though.”

Q2. What tools do you use to help you with exploratory testing?

I think for this question it would be better to redirect everyone to the Club post What tools and things do you use to help you with exploratory testing?

Q3. How do you record and share discoveries from your exploratory testing?

I imagine the responses to this might vary depending on your team structure, i.e. fully remote, some remote or all on the same site.

A notebook and postits, be they physical or virtual, while exploring seem to be quite popular. Colour coding those notes was a common approach too. Be it red text to highlight a bug or a coloured question mark in the margin to remind you to ask someone something, it seems a set of coloured pens would be a common find among the testers desks.

Screenshots and various types of screen recorders (full videos or gifs) can be useful for retracing your own steps or sharing with the team so they can see what you did and what you mean by your findings.

You can summarise the findings in an email, a face to face chat with the team, Slack or whatever internal communication system your team uses.

Some logged their findings (bugs or tasks) into JIRA or a similar tool for safe keeping. These took the format of bugs, comments on stories or new stories created.

@friendlytester also mentioned heatmaps as a form of recording findings and sessions, hopefully he’ll blog about this soon :smile: In the meantime, you should read the transcript to see how he describes it.

One of the other things that came up, and I find these can be marmite type, was mindmaps. People either love them or hate them. As mentioned in the chat, they are good for small focused efforts but they can get messy with bigger tasks.

SBTM was mentioned as a way to prevent information overload and provide structure.

You could also pair or mob (either with other testers or devs) to show the benefit of the way we work, and how we explore. The logs can also give proof that you’ve been exploring the system should it be needed.

Above all, the top thing to remember is: if you find things that worked, tell people, praise the team.

Q4. What’s the best discovery you’ve had during exploratory testing?

Now this created a bit of a stir, @del.dewar1 said it was “like asking me to pick my favourite child” :joy: @ambertests “Recently discovered one of our most used APIs is returning same thing 99% of the time and putting much unnecessary load on the db”, that’s quite the discovery! Andrea Hüttner “Found no bug running 213 scripted checks. Spent 20 minutes exploratory testing, found 4 serious bugs in the same code!!”

Accessibility and performance issues seemed to be high on the discovery list.

I think my favourite response was “Sometimes just sharing information on how the product works can lead to better business and technical decisions by the team”.

Overall, it seemed that exploratory testing helped testers rediscover the fun of testing.

We shared some resources at the end of the chat too How to Explore with Intent by @maaret and 99 Second Introduction to Exploratory Testing by @mwinteringham and @danashby.

If you weren’t able to attend yourself, why not add your own replies below? If you were and you want to expand on your answers, let’s continue the chat here :slight_smile:

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Sorry I missed it. The feedback I saw on twitter (and here, now) was mostly positive and it looked very productive.

For future reference, when you plan on another one of these, where would I look for the announcement/information?

Hi Brian, that’s a shame you missed it. We generally announce it on a few different platforms. We post the event on our facebook page. It is also live on The Dojo and it’s mentioned repeatedly on our Twitter account too. Plus announcing it on the various slack channels. So you can find it on your platform of choice. Hopefully, you’re able to make the next chat!

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I missed it as well but then my kids have been off school all day and it has been bedlam here.

Is is going to be viewable somewhere as a recording?

The transcript of the session is available at https://www.crowdchat.net/TestChat

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Best specific link to check for all our upcoming events (face to face or online) is here - https://dojo.ministryoftesting.com/events

Thanks, that was helpful.