"Some birds aren't meant to be caged, their feathers are just too bright"- Morgan Freeman, Shawshank Redemption. This blog is from one such bird who couldn't be caged by organizations who mandate scripted software testing. Pradeep Soundararajan welcomes you to this blog and wishes you a good time here and even otherwise.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

TASTRO - Tester's Astrology by Rrajesh Barde

One of Moolya's customer, a large IT company in India wanted me help a group of testers think beyond the boundaries they had accustomed to. They wanted me to help them bring out the potential and creativity of testers within their organization. Having thousands of testers,  they did know where to start from - the top 30 they had. Top 30 in terms of demonstrated passion for software testing.

The icing on the cake, they wanted their testers to progress towards becoming brainual testers.

A group of 30 testers were introduced to me and I spent time for a couple of weeks with them on various activities. We ended up doing so many good things together that we accomplished the mission together. There were plenty of great work that they did. Now, those 30 have been successful in inspiring 30 more and this chain reaction is appearing to happen. If it goes on, I am sure this organization is going to rock in the coming years.

Somebody impressed with how I mentored these 30 asked me, "Aren't you giving away all secrets of how testers in Moolya test?", to which I replied, "There is no secret. This is how we test and this is how we live". There is nothing to hide. We don't have any secret ingredient or a secret ingredient soup unlike many services companies. We have watched KungFu Panda and hope you too have watched it. We focus on our skills. Our website tells that story.

In this post, I want to highlight the creativity that came out of the exercises of Brainual Testing.
Rrajesh Barde surprised me that he had been reading my blogs ever since I started it and he told me he had also commented on it. I was glad to meet my oldest (well, he's pretty young) blog reader. The only question I asked him was, "Was it worth your time?"

This guy turned out to be hyper creative. He had a sense of humor, lateral thinking, passion to test, leadership and creativity. We were brainstorming of how do we educate testers without letting them know they are educated. Of course, books are boring to most. What content do we feed them with? We discussed on Andy Glover's Cartoons for it. However, that didn't solve the problem of testers within their organization being able to see Andy working with them.

So, Rrajesh Barde in the meeting interrupted, "If I may, I have an idea..." and then came out with this brilliant idea of TASTRO - Testers ASTROlogy. In a country like India, a lot of people refer to Astrology. They at least want to read if there is something good in it for them. I thought that was a brilliant idea and we had to develop it further. We needed to mix fun and pun into it. We needed the learning touch. We needed people to look forward to their weekly TASTRO.

Here is what we got:

TASTRO – Tester’s Astro – What do your test signs foretell?

Your stars look good for coming week however you might face an environment downtime. Why not make a quick checklist on how to set it up?

Avoid calls during Rahu Kaal. Those who have calls with your on-site coordinators during this time, Beware!!

The planetary movements suggest that the build scheduled on week day will be delivered to the Testing team on Friday after sunset. You have plenty of time to read Rapid Software Testing Appendix and practice new testing ideas.

Though you think you know it, you have no certainty until you try. You might see a surprise appreciation for your smart work. Smart work could mean, you use oracles to test.

You are worried with unplanned work load. Read the book – Lessons Learned in Software Testing at home and you may see the change in office.

Worried why you your productivity appears to have come down? How long has it been since you took a break? Quick breaks between test sessions are important.

In the busy times, be prepared to work late, eat pizza for dinner at work, and work for some weekends. Don't wanna do that? Go beyond test cases, you will find more bugs.

There is a chance that your relationship with developers would go sour in the coming week. So treat them with chocolates. Developers are rich source of information for a tester.

Your customers would be under the influence of aggressive Mars. You would be forced to test whatever is thrown at you. Check for the mission to be achieved to avoid falling into traps

You would be trying to achieve the stars by clicking here and there with your monkey paws. Stop doing that and your career could get better.

Your managers would somehow have a strong notion that you have just been marking those test cases as “pass” without executing them. Honesty is important for a good tester.

When you have crashed the software and waiting for the system to boot, prepare your own test idea cheat sheet. For those who do, future has been bright.

Isn't this awesome? I feel testers like Rrajesh Barde are a huge boon to our industry. The beauty of my consulting was, I felt there wasn't just one Rrajesh Barde I met but many. I may cover about others in future posts.

A couple of years ago, I used to go to a consulting assignment as though I am superior and I consult people because they were inferior. These days, I go to consulting to get humbled by people like the ones I met.

Please, everybody, stretch out your creativity, you would find an Andy Glover or Rrajesh Barde in you. For those who want to follow Rrajesh's blog, here is the link. He came out with another concept called Bug Burji (Burji is a dish made out of Egg and we call it Egg Burji, Rrajesh made a Bug Burji out of it). Rrajesh, you inspire me. I hope after reading your work, a couple of others may join me in admiring your work and contribution.

I am telling myself that I was born to witness this beginning of the golden era of software testing. Don't know if you can even see what I am experiencing.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Testing Circus, Tea Time With Testers & The Testing Planet magazines

It is a proud moment that a magazine on testing started by a tester in India who did not have any funding or money to run it has completed 1 year and has matured well over the last couple of months.

It is testers like Ajoy and his team of volunteers listed here are the ones who are going to make a difference to this world in all good ways. It re-iterates a good point that passion can make things and sustain it. Many with huge budget but no passion can't achieve this. Even if they achieve, it may be with just business objective.

I want to congratulate Ajoy and his team for the efforts they have taken to bring this magazine out every month. Ajoy wanted to have enough money to run this and Moolya was the first company to sponsor ads in Testing Circus.

It wasn't just to promote Moolya but to help Ajoy and his team dream bigger with Testing Circus. To all those involved, I bow to you, salute you for what you have done. I know, probably more than anyone else, how difficult it is to have achieved it.

So, this post is dedicated to you folks.

There is another set of testers from India, Lalitkumar Bhamare and Pratikkumar Patel who are also doing a good job. They are the Tea Time With Testers. I want to mention and thank them for their efforts. I sincerely appreciate your work, passion and style.

Now, to both these magazines, your goal over the next couple of years is to be better than The Testing Planet. That appears to me as a golden standard for testing magazines to achieve. Rosie Sherry and her team of volunteers have not just set but raised the standard too high for others to try beating. I still remember the day when Rosie Sherry started the software testing club and pinged me on Skype to tell about it. I think Rosie should write a book on how she built all this so well.

All in all, this is becoming a good age to live in as a software tester. Those who are blind to all great work happening in testing deserve it because their children or grand children are probably not going to respect them :)

Subscribe to these magazines and you will thank me for asking you to do it. 

Thursday, September 01, 2011

How Pradeep teaches software testing - Part 3

I hope you have read Part 1 and Part 2 of the series of "How Pradeep teaches software testing" and I welcome you to the Part 3. I don't yet know how many parts it is going to take for me to complete this series. I am hoping that I would write down the most important parts and keep adding whenever I need to update. In this part, I am going to focus on my journey of doing exercises and hands on stuff I do at my workshops.

Having been a guinea pig of James Bach and Michael Bolton's online coaching, I myself went through quite a few exercises that were under experimentation. I still remember James showing me a set of pens and then hiding all of them away from me but one to ask me which one was being shown to me. All of them looked identical so it was difficult to tell which pen was he showing me. I had to figure out a way to question him to help me identify the difference between those pens. This is one such exercise that didn't make it to the Rapid Software Testing class. However, I benefited from all of them.

When I started to teach my own version of Rapid Software Testing in India, I sought permission to use a few exercises from the original version. I got permitted to use the Mysterious Spherical Ball and Dice Game. Oh, the Triangle, too. I needed more and I had to create my own.

Even before that, I had to modify the exercises to suit me and the point I wanted to drive. I did that. I have a few variations of the game and exercises and at times I drive a different point from the original one. If I were to have been a parrot repeating what they taught me, I wouldn't have been able to survive or inspire people.

I tried my own exercises. I tried them out with James & Michael. It was hard to teach them back something with my exercises. That made my exercises or my ability to deal with them stronger. I then tried it out on a couple of testers here in India and it worked wonders. So, I consciously didn't take all of my exercises to James & Michael. Not that I wanted to avoid them but as their good student, I wanted to appreciate their time. I first wanted to get good at something before asking them to work on it.

I published some exercises on my blog. For instance the telephone puzzle and other brainstorming exercises helped me to experiment some of my own.

Every time I did the same exercise with new batch of testers, a new idea or an approach used to emerge that used to teach me a lot. I started to focus on what testers in India need to learn. If their fundamental is flawed then it is not good to teach them some things that appear to be Greek and Latin.

I made a list of things that I think is fundamental and started to work towards exercises for the same.

I am listing a few of them below


  • Observation
  • Questioning
  • Lateral Thinking
  • Reverse Engineering
  • Scripting
  • Investigation


  • Test coverage
  • Testability
  • Mission focus
  • Heuristics & Oracles
  • Bug Reporting

I built exercises for each category I wanted testers to get good at. As an example, I built an exercise for reverse engineering practice for testers: Finding Nemo  . Sorry to Mac folks unless they have a Windows emulator in it.

I wondered if I could really help in creating good testers with my crazy set of exercises and ideas. I was consulting for Edista Testing Institute and sought an opportunity to experiment my crazy ideas with two batches of fresh college graduates. The results were beyond imagination. I could bet on these testers against all of the ISTQB passed fresh college graduates put together. Here are excerpts of the work that they produced after a month of training from me. 

I was all the more convinced about creating my own exercises to help creating good testers in India. As an evidence of how skilled a tester could get beyond those 30 days is here - Santhosh Tuppad, my student of the fresh college graduate training is now a co-founder of Moolya Software Testing Private Limited. Not just he, other testers from those batches are top testers in the organization they are working for. There are a few in them who haven't yet made it large but if you talk to them you'd know it may happen, if not today, tomorrow.

He is the youngest testing entrepreneur to the best of my knowledge at the age of 23 and this story being created in India and me playing a small role in it makes me happy of the path I am heading towards in coaching software testers. I am specifically going to write about my students and their journey after attending my training in a part dedicated to them.

The exercises created curiosity in them to learn more. So, I didn't do the learning for them, they did it for themselves. What every training for a software tester needs to do - is to create curiosity with pointers of how they could do it. What ISTQB is doing is a super reverse of that. They damage the gene when it is being built and create business opportunities to themselves in the context of helping such genes upgrade and repair.

Some of the ISTQB trainers in India who perceive that my work has an influence on them, use some of my exercises in their workshop. I allow them to do so because that's the best hope for me that someone would then question the value of what is being taught as ISTQB and get curious to learn about testing.

My exercises teach people to test their own ideas of testing. I'd like to build thousands of them and give it away. Over the last few years, I have seen lot of action from Context Driven Testing folks on the exercises. People come up with their own exercises and share it with others. It is the safest community to be in irrespective of whether you agree to the principles or not. People like Sebi, Markus Gaertner, Matt Heusser are the ones on top of my head who contribute testing exercises to the world.

You will have fun cracking my Finding Nemo exercise. You would trick yourself to believing you have cracked it and then if you do a few more tests, you'd discover you haven't. Santhosh and I worked on something called Guess the Password - Version 1 & Version 2 . Don't go to Version 2.0 before completing Version 1.0.

This is what I am doing in India. This is how I coach testers. The future is all about such testing exercises, if it were to be a bright one. So, all of India isn't all that bad in testing as you may be imagining it to be. Note that!

In future parts of the series, I am going to be covering on aspects of my interaction with testers in the class, humor that works for me in my class, feedback and what I did with it, interacting with trainers in software testing and lots more. Stay tuned, it looks to be completely safe.