Before we test, we should plan. Before we plan, we should understand. Before we understand, we should discuss. As we discuss complex paths through software, we should use models.

As soon as you draw a model, the discussion becomes engaging for both parties. Each person is forced to pay attention because the items under discussion are now concrete entities we can point to. Our brains can focus less on what the names or actions for these objects are and more on how they interact.

Even the crudest models (e.g., circles and arrows) will facilitate understanding. Everyone wants to discuss things with a model, whether they know it or not. It’s easier to talk to the model than someone’s face, especially for us introverts. When I sense confusion during a discussion I say “let’s go the white board”. Once the other person (usually the dev) gets their butt out of their chair the rest is down hill.

My knowledge of the inner workings of my AUT is miniscule compared with that of my devs and I’m not afraid to show it. I’ll draw some first grader shapes with letters and before I know it the dev is reaching for the dry erase marker to show me how it really works. And the beauty of the whole thing is that your brain will use the model to develop test cases; the possible inputs/outputs become clearer. Say these out loud and your dev will help you find the weak points. Then thank the dev and go getcha some bugs!


  1. Anonymous said...

    I totally agree, speaking with models is the way to go, especially when they're really hot!

  2. Eric Jacobson said...

    Nicely put.

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