Sunday 15 March 2015

Drive like you were testing

The analogy about testing being as touring some new place has been quite used. There are even books trying to coin that all Exploratory Testing can be condensed in a set of eight tours performed by some profile user.

I'm going to try the inverse, I'm going to tell how it went out once we were travelling, and how I took some decisions based on my testing experience.

We were on a family car trip, from Valencia to Paris in several days, and this day we were going from Montpelier to Vichy, we had all day to cover this distance, we were on vacations so we had no hurry at all.

We already passed the magnificent bridge of Millau, and it was about time to stop for lunch. I was sitting at the wheel and even that we had enough fuel for 150 kilometres, I decided that we would stop for lunch near a Gas station and tank up.

The traffic wasn't bad in our direction, it was not clear enough to rely on the cruise control, but we were almost doing 120 km/h.
But because it was the first week of August, half Europe was driving down south using the other direction of the meridienne highway. It was a true french Bouchon going on there.

I decided to stop at the 'Aire de Service Lafayette - Lorlanges' it was 40 km ahead, and when doing 120 km/h that means 20 min arrival time, so it wasn't bad at all.

We got to the exit, and there was a roundabout to enter to the gas station.

But I noticed that there were cars parked in the roundabout, my thinking was:"Why would anyone want to park in a roundabout, this is as far as you can get from the gas station...
Because there is no other place to park, because this gas station services to both directions of the highway, and there is no more space than this". So I kept turning in the roundabout, without entering to the gas station.
-"We are not stopping here." I said.
- "Why is that?"
- "Because if the parking lot is overflowing up to the roundabout, imagine how the cafeteria or the toilettes might be."

I exited the next road on the roundabout, and followed it for 2 kilometers, in my hope of finding a second gas station, but didn't find anything, only beautiful forests.

Then I stopped on the sideroad and went to the GPS. Exploring narrow roads is fun, but now I do want to find a Gas Station.
-"Oh, you have one just two kilometers behind you." The GPS told me, he is a clever guy, but I know something that he does not.
-"You know, I really want another gas station, what are my choices?"
-"Drive this road and turn left in 3km"
-"Let's try that out"

And at the end of the proposed path, we found a small and clean place, with Burgers, Nuggets, Kebap and French fries for lunch, given that we didn't need anything more, this gas station on Road N102 between Lempdes-sur-Allagnon and Vergongheon was a perfect place for us.

When you are driving, you do have a mission, and a plan, but if your plan is too tight, every discovery you might do once you are on the road is going to impact your initial plan.

When you are testing, you do have a mission as well, but you need to be aware of small unexpected happenings that could pass unperceived, like a badly parked car at the entrance of a gas station, and decide as you go.

Maybe your test plan was good when you made it, but be aware that you made it at the point when you didn't have much information about what you were really going to find, so once you get new information that makes you question your initial plan, you better be able to take decisions about where to go next.

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