Wednesday, July 31, 2013

I'm a Bug Advocate

I do advocate for bugs to be fixed but the title comes from passing the Association for Software Testing's (AST) Black Box Software Testing (BBST) Bug Advocacy course. The class officially ended in mid-July and it marks the third and final BBST class for me.

Together Foundations, Bug Advocacy and Survey of Test Design make up a semester long class that Cem Kaner teaches at Florida Institute of Technology called Software Testing 1. These lectures and classes are, as far as I know, the only college level software testing courses available to anyone that wants to learn about testing - the material is free and the courses are pretty inexpensive.

As with the prior classes I agreed to have my name listed on AST's graduates website and for fun my certificate of completion is below:


Despite this being the final BBST class my journey with BBST doesn't end here. I enrolled in the Instructor class for November at the beginning of the year when I enrolled in Test Design. I figured the best way to become more familiar with the material and reinforce what I do know (challenge what I don't know) is to try to teach it. Worked for Scuba Diving!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Why take a Black Box Software Testing course?

I was recently telling a friend about the BBST Bug Advocacy course I was working on and he asked why I was taking a black box testing course. I think what he meant was why would I take a course on black box testing as opposed to glass box (or white-box) testing?

This is the more thoughtful answer I wish I had given.

I fell into the testing profession. The University I went to taught some technical skills as part of the degree (programming, database design, etc.) but I never learned anything I would consider fundamental to understanding software testing, nothing that helped me deal with testing problems. Since I work in software testing I wanted to learn more about the domain, to better understand it and be able to differentiate between testing and other types of problems (technology, communication, requirements, etc.). It just so happens the courses that focus on the domain of software testing also focus on black box system level testing.

Black box and glass box testing approaches focus on different things. Black box is testing and test design without knowledge of the code. A black box tester will approach testing based on the interactions of the stakeholders with the system’s inputs and outputs. Contrast this to glass box as testing and test design with knowledge of the internal code. The glass box tester will approach testing based on the interactions of the underlying code, as in "does this code do what the programmer intended it to do?"

Testers using either approach can benefit from understanding the domain of software testing. Understanding what oracles are, how they are heuristics, advantages / disadvantages to measurement, how to communicate and write bugs effectively or even how to design appropriate tests affect both the black box and glass box approaches. That’s why someone would take a black box testing course (specifically the BBST series of courses); that’s why I did.