What do you put in your exploratory testing charters?

There was a question recently on Slack which sparked some insight for me. Depending on the company and the situation people are in or even the audience, they may structure their charters very differently.

@deborahreid added that

the charter should give all the guidance with the freedom to explore I think

This is a mantra that I’ve followed myself while creating charters. Reading the replies, it seems that when it came to more complex features, knowing exactly what to put in and leave out of a charter could cause a conundrum.

What do you put into your charters? Can you give an example of a charter that you’d use for something a bit more complex than a landing page?

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I haven’t done much exploratory testing at new job yet so the examples here are not very exciting but here is the format I follow (not very strictly, I am always adding/removing sections and changing for suitability to a particular case).

THIS ALL-CAPS TEXT IS A LINK TO A GOOGLE DOC

Example at top is empty, followed by slightly sanitised examples of two time-boxed sessions I did in the last month. I’m not an expert of anything, so it’s just what I’ve found useful for testing things out. They’re also both solo but I did some pairing/thairing ones at my old workplace which were much nicer. xD

The second example, I don’t think it really counts as exploratory testing since I was checking something extremely specific using a spreadsheet but I was asked by someone else to do some exploratory testing on the subject and it was my choice to make it so structured. I mean, exploratory doesn’t mean unstructured I suppose, so I have left it up as an example in case it’s useful. Have not linked the sheet because it contains company info. xD

I hope that’s in any way useful.

Oh, and I did write a blog post on the subject which includes me learning about exploratory testing and charters last year:

THIS ALL-CAPS TEXT IS A LINK TO A BLOG POST

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I like the format Elizabeth Hendrickson describes in her book Explore It! - there’s a few examples in this slideshare of a talk of hers but basically it’s:

Blockquote
Explore area/feature [ with resources/conditions, or constraints ] to discover information.

So that could be “explore the design for the new contract functionality using state transition diagrams/tables to discover missed scenarios that could end up with a customer in an irretrievable condition and/or loss of revenue”. (Yep, I deliberately picked an example that doesn’t even need code to be written yet. You can explore with a whiteboard or pen and paper as well as a keyboard.)

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Interesting, I never thought of using charters on features where code hadn’t been written yet :thinking:

Thank you for this template! We are using “official” exploratory testing for the first time and your template really helped with documenting it.

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I recently tried out TestBuddy by Simon Tomes for the first time. My goal was to re-test a release made in March before regression testing a new release to build up my Oracle. So I allocated 2 hours and wrote a Jira like this:
Jira ticket : [VWR-3029] : Verify IOS 14 Viewer
#### Description
Smoke Test the connect viewer - as an iOS 14 sanity check.
=Unrelated to BT keyboard issue on iOS 14=
ran a test session using “TestBuddy”
2 hours logged

I then did my session, and half way through you can see I spend time fiddling with TestBuddy, but also start preparing to test the new release. I’m not promoting Testbuddy here, but I wanted to show you how small my charter just above here really was. My testbuddy session looked like this:
####PLANNING
check that version https://apps.apple.com/gb/app/redacted/idxxxx installed is 3.9.1 on ios14
9:28
connect to a apple VNC desktop
9:28
connect to an ARD session
9:29
connect to a windows desktop
9:29
log in and out of the console interactively each time , generally play about
9:30
finally - test that the bluetooth keyboard nominally works
####EXPLORING
I worked out a bit about “mouse mode” that I had forgotten, the scrollbar on the right in mouse mode is pretty wide.
11:40
bonjour connection browser works
connect to desktop gives an advert screen (ooh i have version 3.9.0 installed) #fail on my part.
11:42
OSK in the app lets me type and so on as expected.
11:47
clear sensitive data clears all previews and bonjour (ARD) connection previews + ARD tested OK now too.
11:49
Reviewed the testbuddy demo video https://via.intercom.io/c?url=https%3A%2F%2Fyoutu.be%2FWu4xTnoreLY&h=98e0dfb383e3cba269231bc491fd92d3579166cb-dgt2slyf_101564200000599&l=67589f4a05e1534b78b05cccf8c2ed86cc1220b4-3036549 , thinking this app is slightly useful. anyway , … Focus! Need to carry on checking the last release is what I think it is.
12:02
Ran a windows desktop connection, played about with mouse control and keyboard - works good. server shows a connected users toast as expected.
12:03
Now for bluetooth - got some time while testing to watch an AWS Cognito tutorial clip.
12:04
Session paused for 23h 5m 19s
11:09
Installed the release-integration ipa : crashes when you try to open the cloud login screen.
install of the other ipa erorrs / FAILS - todo: which ones fail to deploy?
11:11
Session started
11:11
debug-liva ipa installed ok - sign in button also crashes it.
11:12
Session started
11:12
release-versioned ipa also installs, but crashes on the cloud sign-on dialog opening
the release-testflight Beta also dies on that dialog
11:30
Session started
11:30
Bonjour discovery and connection works OK
ip address connection to Windows host works OK
11:34
Session started
11:34
Praise
ARD connection works OK
BT keyboard appears to nominally be functioning as it did before.
11:48
Session started
11:48
Problem
Found one defect email address zero length bug came back, needs code review again.
11:49
Session paused for 55606d 9h 42m 41s
12:28
"
Session paused for 37070d 22h 14m 28s"
that looks odd?

You can see here I got distracted by a small TestBuddy cosmetic defect at the end, and that my attention was wavering at times. I hope this helps the next person.

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