Sunday, March 07, 2010

A movement called weekend testing – What it can do to you and your testing career?

An extremely contiguous phenomenon is sweeping in some circles, communities of software testing; it is called Weekend testing (twitter @weekendtesting). Presumably, born out of few young minds (Ajay Balamurugadas, Parimala Shankariah, Sharath Byregowda, Manoj Nair ) and influenced by context driven software testing philosophy. In a short span of time, it has traveled from Bangalore (the home of Weekend testing) to Europe and the US. So it is globalized movement. As testimony of its popularity and the value, who's-who in global testing community have acknowledged it

It is hard for anyone who is a passionate/skilled software tester not to be associated with it. Once you are in, you keep going and loop in others. Such is the power of the concept and the way weekend testing works. I would probably equate (not mathematical sense) weekend testing to open source software development. What drives these movements? Passion, Desire to learn, Demonstrate skills in the real time "On Demand". The last point is something that is more apparent in weekend testing movement.

What makes weekend testing - a movement or a revolution in its infancy?

The objective:
Practice testing (or software testing) in real time with like minded (I wish if some dis-like minded folks join it – we need fight confirmation bias always as testers. Being vigilant about fallacies of "you will see what you want to see or you will fall in love with that which confirms what you know").

This objective is very powerful and has enormous potential to grow big. Keywords here are "practice" and "real time". Now you can see testers saying "I was practicing testing" just like a musician doing is "Riaz" or the sportsman sweating it out on the ground. A manager would call few of his low performing testers and say "Go and get some practice of testing in week end testing sessions". While his testers are training, the manager can check their progress by viewing the session transcripts and related blogs posted elsewhere. Transparency to the core!!!

The structure

Here is a generic format of how a weekend testing session is arranged – more detailed description can be found here

A group of testers sign-on to Skype or Google talk and get started with their testing at a specified time as announced on the weekend testing website. One of the testers assumes the role of facilitator giving the mission for the session and moderates the whole thing. Mission of the session is itself tested first – meaning it is scrutinized for possible ambiguities and a refined one is adopted. Testing starts bugs, issues are logged in an open source bug database and followed by a debrief session. The session transcript is posted with results for everyone to see and learn further. It is almost free for those that have computers and internet connection. Weekend testing thrives on usage of open source/free tools. It is more or less self-driven – all that was required to set up an initial structure for testers to get started and posting the results and transcripts of the sessions.

It is a terrific place to learn With so many willing, skilled and available testers and coaches around what you are learn is nearly unlimited. With a wide variety of products to test, variety of testing missions to try out – there is something new to learn in every session. With people across the globe participating, you get access to an interesting cross section of skills, cultural legacies to learn from. You can improve your communication, writing skills in a friendly yet mildly critical environment. People here tend to me cooperative and more interested in seeing everyone succeed. It is the genuine interest in other's growth and improvement that makes weekend testing a unique platform for greenhorns to gaze around.

It promotes "community" certification/acknowledge - not given by any "standards" like bodies. Needless to say the people associated with the movement are known for their "critical thinking" and would go to any extent to be "open for scrutiny/challenge any time anywhere". That makes this movement strong and really unbeatable.

It makes testing demonstrable in its deepest details possible. For long, people influenced by context driven testing have struggled to explain the power of exploratory testing. They have been trying to argue for skill in testing as opposed to so called best practices and process driven testing. And there "test cases" the ubiquitous building blocks of testing and the questions that were often asked "how can you do testing without test cases, How can you repeat testing? How will client accept that we tested?" Now we have a proof in a public movement and "open for scrutiny anyone anytime" – You can literally see testing happening in front of your eyes. What more evidence you need?

The People

The founding members of this movement are, at the core, very dedicated, passionate software testers whose sole distinguishing qualification is their appetite for learning and become skilled software testers. That drives them to do things that they do. They are constantly building their reputation through demonstrating their skill and learning constantly. So, hanging around with these people can be very dangerous. They will make you like them. The weekend community is very aptly mentored, coached and supported by people like Michael Bolton (no… not the singer or the "officespace" character), James Bach, Cem Kaner, Pradeep Soundararajan, Matt Heusser, Jerry Weinberg, just to name a few.

We (notice, I am using this "we" after a long hesitation as I have not contributed enough to include myself in this movement) are thankful to these leading lights for encouraging the movement and advertizing it.

The Future of weekend testing – The way I see it.

Few thoughts …

  • There will be many chapters of weekend testing all over the world. There will be weekend testing conferences to the scale of STAR conferences in the US.
  • Big universities teaching software engineering will recognize this movement and will have representatives from them
  • Commercial product companies will engage weekend testing folks to test their products. With the support of crowd sourcing companies like utest, week end testing will gain authenticity and grow.
  • Weekend testing will then get into weekdays as people want more of it – we then have to look for another name to call and identify ourselves … But that is an interesting problem to solve

I am looking forward to participate and contribute this movement …

Update (10th March 2010)

Parimala Shankariah has brought my notice that Santhosh Tuppad, yet another promising testing star in the indian software testing horizon, who was recently featured on utest - has been a very contributing member of this movement. Thanks Parimala for point this out ....

Santosh ... nice to know about your contributions.. Keep going... Look forward to participate in sessions with you.