Schedule and Events

March 26-29, 2012, Software Test Professionals Conference, New Orleans
July, 14-15, 2012 - Test Coach Camp, San Jose, California
July, 16-18, 2012 - Conference for the Association for Software Testing (CAST 2012), San Jose, California
August 2012+ - At Liberty; available. Contact me by email:

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Testing the Stapler

To answer the Stapler question, Mike Kelly referred me to this post where he had 144 tests. Yes, 144 tests, and, offhand, they look to be real, valid tests. To get there, Mike starts by looking up the manufacturer of the stapler, getting the specification, and seeing if the physical object conforms to the spec.

David Drake took a different tactic: He started with the Egg, and asked what purpose I wanted to use the Egg for.

A different way to say this would be "What are the requirements?" which is a solid way to start the discussion. For example, Mike could have tested the stapler to the Stanley Bostich Specification, but our requirements could be for a industrial-strength heavy duty stapler. In other words, we bought something Commercial, Off the Shelf that wasn't fit for purpose.

That might not be quite fair to Mike, as I am sure he asked about fitness for purpose before starting his list - but I would be remiss if I did not mention it.

To do this at a conference, I would probably have a thin, pointed knife sitting next to a stack of envelopes, and say something like "Take your pick" between the egg, stapler, shalt shaker, and knife. When picking up the knife, by assumption is that more people would lick the envelopes and try to open them, and few would ask me what are the requirements.

At which point, I reveal that I'm looking for a butter knife.

You may say "No fair! That's misleading!!"

To which I say, hey, it's a simulation.

If some says that it's an unrealistic simulation, I would ask:

'Have you ever actually tried to build software in corporate America?'


More importantly, I think the response to the challenge is important. Both Mike and David Drake impressed me. I've seen a spectrum of answers and put them in general categories. More about that tomorrow.

PS: If you've got a conference and would like to see more of this thing, let me know. Otherwise, I'm thinking of setting up shop in the hallway at a few places next year ...

1 comment:

Chris said...

One of the challenges I put to a group of trainees at my last job but one was "Testing a Chocolate Chip Cookie." They got specifications and time to write a test plan and test scripts. Then they were to come to me to get the "cookies to be tested".

When they came, I gave each of them a bag of cookies. However, they were what's called over here "custard creams". They opened the bags, looked at the cookies, looked at me, and said, "These aren't chocolate chip cookies." I replied, "They're what you've got to test."

They all did very well.