QA Blog Posts
QA Image Library
Check out the growing QA Image Library. This is my personal colleciton of Slack Images for that perfect QA Moment.
Have you heard of the Mandela Effect?
Here's a brief description:
This is a "False Memory Phenomenon" where many people believe in a false memory. For example, Frona Broome had a false memory that Nelson Mandela died in the 1980s. That thought was shared by thousands of other people.
So how's does this relate to QA activities?
In release testing, people may have a false memory of features being tested before signing off on the current release. Everyone may assume that a feature was tested because it always is.
Note: This could also be true with automation. A feature that people may think is covered by automation is in fact still in development.
Value of Having a Checklist
This is why having a product-related checklist is critical to ensuring that all critical paths are tested. Don't just assume that someone else has tested it - find out by asking!
Reset the checklist for every release - that way you can ensure that critical features have been touched by manual or automation.
Best Screen Capture Tool for Chrome
When it comes to screen capture applications there are a lot of different options. You certainly don't need to buy one as all the major operating systems now have built-in screen capture tools.
If you constantly take screen shots of webpages in Google Chrome there's one tool that stands out above the rest. That's Snag-it.
A "Must Have" Tool for QA
What makes Snag-it the best screen capture tool for Chrome? Well, there are things that I can think of.:
- Snag-it will automatically capture the inner window browser frame area. This means that you can capture the main webpage area. You don't need to play around guessing the window area.
- Snag-it can capture the whole browser window. So if you need to show the URL in your screenshot you can.
- Snag-it can scroll and capture the full webpage. This is useful when you need to capture the whole page in a bug report or for archive purposes.
- You can select multiple regions. This is great when you have two Chrome browsers open and you're doing a comparison. You can also have shown the page against a product spec and highlight areas that are incorrect.
- You can capture both images and video using the browser region functionality.
- You can drag and drop a Bookmark icon to the Snagit Menu Bar icon, or to the Dock icon to quickly get a full website capture. Downside: If your site requires a login you would only see the login page. Still a neat way to capture a URL without having to load it in a browser.
- When you capture the website the URL is saved as part of the MetaData. You can view the content using the "Capture Info" under Effect Styles. Not only will you get the URL, but Snagit will display the Google Chrome version and the date/time of capture. All useful information in any bug report.
You can try out SnagiT for free for 15-days from TechSmith's website: Download Free Trial. After that the cost is $49.95.
What do you think?
Is there another tool that offers better screen capture functionality? Let me know what I am missing in the comments below.
Purpose of Smoke Testing
Smoke Testing is a critical part of Quality Assurance Testing. It's usually done to make sure that a deployment was done successfully. (Such as Code Freeze or Production Release)
When considering putting together a Smoke Test plan for you Software as a Service (SaS) application, here are some things to think about.
Five Things to Consider in Smoke Testing
- Critical path - Smoke test should focus on the critical path that customers will take to use your application.
- Focus on Making the Test Quick - The goal of smoke testing it to make sure they run fast. There shouldn't be complex steps to make sure the software works. Depending on the application, the smoke test should be completed in 20-minutes. Otherwise your simply running a modified version of a regression test.
- Logs should be open - Keep the Console logs open when running the test. (People do forget this!) This way you can catch errors as test are being run - such as tracking servers throwing 404s.
- Touch features that are most likely to break - Some Test should be testing complex part of the application that is likely to break - or have broken in the past. Examples might be the login process for existing users or uploading large files.
- Special Test for Production - In production smoke test, focus on features that are specific to production - such as load balance servers testing - as you may not have that in the test environment.
Test Early and Often
These are just some of the things that I think about when putting together an effective smoke test plan.
What are some of the things that you consider when forming a Smoke Test strategy?
What is Testing?
Last week someone Tweeted this:
Explain testing without using the word testing.
Seems like an easy challenge:
The job of a Quality Assurance Engineer is to make sure that the product delivered works exceptionally for customers.
Customer can be any group: paying customers, prospects, employees - you get the idea.
Alternatively it could be written as:
A group of engineers that constantly challenge the Engineering team that code complete is working as per specification.
Best QA Advice
On Twitter, someone asked, "What's the best testing advice you've ever heard?" I thought it was an interesting question, so I thought I share my "Top 5 QA Advice" that I have gotten over the years.
Top 5 QA Advice
Here are some of the best advice I have learned over the years.
"Never assume the assumption is true." - Kind of weird advice. But it was given to me when I was assuming too much when reading the testing steps of a ticket. My manager at the time said this to me so that I would try to think outside of the box and challenge the assumption that was given on the ticket. (For example, what if the user forgot the email address that they used in a "Forgotten Password" test.)
Pay attention to the details - Always make sure to check the little things when testing tickets. Because when customers are looking at the final work, they will notice the small details - especially if it doesn't seem quite right.
Learn SQL really well - Given to me by a manager a long time ago. He really stressed to make sure that I knew all the tricks of making a SQL Select statement. This not only helped me debug issues but also build some interesting QA Dashboards.
Document Everything - The manager would go on to say, "You never know when you may get hit by a bus." He was being funny. But his point was to make sure that test documents were updated and more importantly useful. This was a key thing. If I wasn't writing things down.
Always end an automation run with a validation statement. - Someone on the automation team gave me this advice when code auditing my automation. "What good is your test if you don't finish it with some validation statement." This is pretty good advice that I give to other people.
QA Off Cycle Duties
Usually the QA team is busy testing. However, there are times during the sprint cycle where there is nothing to test.
This isn’t a break for QA. Rather it’s a shift in QA duties.
Eight Things QA Does in the Off Cycle
A Combination of tasks that QA can do when there's "nothing to do."
Test Case Repository - Always be contributing to the test case repository. It's critical for QA to keep the content fresh and accurate.
Documentation - Update Wiki pages on testing techniques and test plans. Make sure that the Wiki has the most up to date information. Some things to think about: Critical Path Testing, Local Functionality Smoke Testing, Production Account information, Release Schedule, Staffing and so much more.
Review Previous Releases Testing - Self evaluation of how testing could have been done better. Think of ways that bugs and issues could have been caught early in the test cycle.
Performance Testing - How are typical tasks being performed in Production? Are new releases helping the performance of the application or hurting it? Review the findings with the product team on a frequent bases.
Load Testing - Is the website working well when it’s being hit 1,000 times? There are a lot of tools and techniques on how to do load testing without impacting customers.
Error Log Monitoring - Are there any errors that are being caught in various log tracking alerts?
Domain Knowledge - what’s going on in the industry. Are there any testing trends that QA Bloggers are talking about?
Audit Testing Functionality - What testing techniques can be done more efficiently using a different set of tools. If you haven't changed your testing tools in a year - your running on an old version of the QA Operating System. (A play of words on why Apple updates their OS every year.)
Red Herring in Test
A Red herring is is when an irrelevant topic is introduced during an argument to divert the participants from the original issue. Sometimes this is used to make false assumptions. This is commonly used in books and drama TV to mislead the viewer of the actual issue.
Red Herring in Test
In testing, a Red Herring is when multiple issues are found around common functionality. The multiple issues are the Red Herring. The core feature is what should be addressed.
Example Situation #1
Roxana is testing a new login page, and notices that the Credit Card field is not doing any server-side validation. In further testing, it is discovered that users can submit an form with an empty name and zip code. Separate tickets are filed for those issues.
The important question in this situation is the form field validation. What are the requirements and why are the "basic" functionality not set up.
Example Situation #2
During weekly testing its discovered that the local server keeps running into issues. The Release Engineering team fixes the issue and QA is able to move forward.
When testing, Its important for QA to look at the big issue and not get caught up with Red Herrings that can be distracted from the main issue.
QA Manager Task List
Things that QA Managers should be doing on a constant basis:
- Planning, prioritization of all the test-related tasks (use proven project management tools such as the Waterfall or Scrum methodology)
- Writing the world's best test strategies
- Reviewing the test plans with Product and lead engineers
- Taking the responsibility of certain designs if people have not the required competencies
- Automation Code reviewing
- Spreading expertise and good usage of tools such as bug-tracking database or data capture for automation
- Having people judgment skills to hire the right people
- Writing performance review
- Evaluating the previous release - what went well, and ways that QA could have done things better.
What makes a good QA Manager
- Being a good QA engineer - Be an excellent tester and delegate testing.
- Effective communication - Let the team know what going on and make sure there are no bad surprises as code freeze approaches.
- Having and spreading the "customer-focus" vision - Always make sure that that the customer is happy.
- Developing people - Encouraging people to learn more about the software and industry
- Bringing out the creativity in others - Asking open-ended questions in meetings to generate a good team discussion.
- Motivating people - Everyplace: Meetings, Hallways and Slack channels.
- Team Building - Make sure that everyone on the team works together. Always look for ways to involve several team members in testing functionality.
- Enabling Changes - Constantly looking to improve the testing strategy and techniques. If you're using the same test case repository for the past five years - you're not enabling change.
- Decision Making - Make key decisions about if a feature is ready for release. Sometimes the decision is easy, many times it may get some push back from Engineering, Product or Marketing.
CASL stands for Canada Anti-Spam Law. The goal of the law is to protect Canadians from unwanted emails.
Under the law, Websites that serve Canada Citizens are required to have consent before sending a commercial electronic message. Failure to get consent means the company will have to pay a $48,000 fine and develop a compliance program that includes staff training and policy changes.
Configure the Browser as a Canadian User
One way to trick a browser's actual location is to change the browser's default language. Many sites use this to determine if the CASL message should be displayed.
Configure Google Chrome
Simple steps to change Google Chrome settings. You may want to set up a different profile (Canadian User) for future testing purposes.
- Go to Preferences
- Search for Language
- Click on Language
- Click Add languages, search for Canada and select English (Canada)
- Click Add
- Click on the 3-dots to the right of English (Canada) and select "Move to top"
I would recommend restarting the browser so the setting takes effect.
Simple steps to change the default browser settings to be Canadian English.
- Go to Preferences
- Search for Language
- Select the pull down "Search for more languages"
- Click on the "Select a language to add..." and look for English (Canada)
- Move "English (Canada)" to the top, then click "OK"
I would recommend restarting the browser so the setting takes effect.
Couple of Console Tricks
Here are a couple of little known Google Console tools that might assist with testing websites. These are in the Rendering section of the Google DevTools section.
What's weird is that Google doesn't provide much information about these tools. In 2016, Rendering was hidden from general Developer view.
Highlight Ad Frames
This should be enabled so that you can see what areas of the page that have the potential to being blocked by AdWare tools. While it won't catch 100% of the instance that a piece of content may get blocked, it's good to have as a "hey check this out."
Emulate CSS Media
With this enabled, you can save some steps and see what the page looks like when printed.
In addition, this makes it so much easier to debug a problematic page. For example, if a test position, you can list the exact issue in the bug report - saving time for everyone.
Letter to the QA Manager
A letter to the QA Manager. This seems appropriate on this Labor Day:
Dear QA Manager,
I love my job and I think you are a good quality assurance manager, but there are some things I would like to hear from you and some things I would like you to do.
I want you to give me praise. I want to know when I have done a good job. Don't let the only time you have a serious conversation with me be when I have done something wrong. Let me know when I have helped make the release a success.
Tell me what my job is, how to do it and what QA rules I need to follow. I want to clearly understand what my job is, how you want me to do it and what policies I need to follow. Be specific and give me clear instructions.
I want to be excited by my work. I don't want a dull, boring job where I never know what is going on. Get me excited about what my role is, what our project is, about our department and our company. Show me how I fit into the plan.
Challenge me. I don't want to keep doing the same job each day. Give me something new to do. Challenge my skills and my mind. I can contribute more than you think.
Give me opportunities to improve myself. I am a good worker, but I want to be a better one. Train me in something new, send me to a class, let me learn a new skill from a coworker. Help me develop my career. Help me to be better able to help you.
Delegate to me. When you need something done, let me do it. Let me prove that I am capable of doing more. Trust me to get the job done right and on time. It will build my confidence and respect that you can trust me with a task.
Deal with my coworker. You explained the policies I must follow, but you need to back it up by enforcing those policies. Be fair and treat everyone equally. It kills my morale when a coworker is not disciplined for consistently breaking the rules.
Inspire me. Show me you are passionate about your work, about our team, about our project. Share your vision for our department and our team. Tell me what our mission statement is and why it is important.
Ask for my opinions and ideas. I have worked here for a long time and I know what works and what doesn't. Ask me how things can be improved and what we can do to make our team and our department more productive and successful.
Improve my work environment. My desk and chair are good. My computer is old and slow. I need a new one with a monitor that does not hurt my eyes. You need to remodel our break area. I will be happier and be more productive in an improved work environment.
Fake Referer for Testing
This is a sample QA task that I had many years ago:
To perform this task, I used the Unix curl tool to get the job done.
This "hack" is useful when you want to fake a referer from a particular website, you can "dump" the results as an HTML file to verify the results was a success. It also helps if you have access to the apache logs to verify the referer was pass through.
CURL Config File
curl --config test.txt
In the config file:
# --- Example file --- url = "http://www.cryan.com/Boston/" output = "cia.html" referer = "http://www.cia.gov" user-agent = "superagent/1.0" # and fetch another URL too url = http://www.cryan.com/Boston/" output = "yahoo.html" referer = "http://www.yahoo.com" # and fetch another URL too url = "http://www.cryan.com/Boston/" output = "bing.html" referer = "http://www.bing.com"
This is what you see when you run the command:
curl --config sample.txt % Total % Received % Xferd Average Speed Time Time Time Current Dload Upload Total Spent Left Speed 100 10813 0 10813 0 0 35677 0 --:--:-- --:--:-- --:--:-- 35686 100 315 100 315 0 0 3924 0 --:--:-- --:--:-- --:--:-- 3924 100 311 100 311 0 0 3905 0 --:--:-- --:--:-- --:--:-- 3905
You can learn more cool tricks with CURL on the "man" page: curl - How To Use
Testing software may involve testing certain locations. Chrome uses various means to track your location and pass that information to websites. Some of the data is based on Wifi and browser settings.
Location Guard allows you to fake your location. This makes it easy to test the functionality of the site against various locales around the world. For example, Canada has rules about requesting email on websites.
Location Guard is a browser extension that allows to protect your location while using location-aware websites, by adding controlled noise to it.
Latest updates to Chrome might have made this extension non-working. According to many reviews, the extensions are not working 100% of the time.
I'll test it against Google Maps and other sites to see if it still not working.
QA is not Medical Science
In a job interview that I had many years ago at a popular software company, my future boss told me this:
"If bugs happen that's ok, this isn't Medical Science. No one will die because a big made it into Production. "
I was surprised by her comment and took it as the wrong attitude towards excellence in testing. Isn't your goal to make sure bugs don't make it into production?
QA Realistic Goals
However, over the years I have learned she was right. In a fast pace environment, QA can't always deliver 100% bug-free releases. When bugs do make it to production - it's important to avoid the blame game.
QA should focus on how to respond to fixing bugs in production. Once the issue is fixed, QA then needs to find out how it missed the bug - so that it doesn't happen again.
Bugs will happen, but it how you respond to getting the bug fix determines how good of a QA you are.
In testing, a False positive happens when a particular test passed when in fact that it should have failed. This usually happens when tests are not clearly written to catch errors.
Having a lot of failures missed by automation will certainly question the overall value automation brings to the team.
While most people think of False Positive in software automation or medical tests. Here’s a unique perspective to False Positive.
Haunted Mansion Ride Example
At Disneyland Haunted Mansion, Disney has a lot of sensors all over the ride. They are set up to make sure foreign objects are not thrown from the doom buggy. When an object is detected the ride stops to alert security.
Every once in a while, someone manages to throw something into the graveyard without the sensors going off.
The false positive in this situation is that the motion sensors indicate everything is fine and the ride should continue.
The situation is usually fixed within 24-hours but the person responsible got away with it.
Audit Tests that pass
If tests are consistently passing you may want to audit them. Perhaps the test is too specific and may need some additional validation statements to help make the test more efficient.