Roshni Prince asks,

Can you suggest some tips to deal with testers that attempt to dig into code and fix their own bugs?

I like the question, so I’ll tell you what I think.

If we had unlimited test time, SmartyPantsTester would rock! However, if we have to provide as much information as possible, about the current AUT quality, in a limited time, SmartyPantsTester gets in our way.

So how do we deal with SmartyPantsTester?

The Carrot Approach:

Convince SmartyPantsTester the real hero is the tester who can tell us something meaningful about the AUT quality. Can anyone help us…Please? We need someone smart enough to find the weak points in our AUT? We need someone familiar enough with the business to tell us if FeatureA will solve the user’s problems. Is anyone creative enough to determine how to test the feature the devs said was impossible to test? Is anyone methodical enough to determine the repro steps to this intermittent problem? We need someone brave enough to QA Certify this AUT for production. Get it? Appeal to the ego.

The Stick Approach:

Ask SmartyPantsTester to work extra hours until she can answer questions like the following:

  • Cool, you found an incorrect join statement, how does the rest of the AUT look?
  • Do the new features work properly?
  • How much of the AUT have you tested?
  • How many tests have you executed?
  • How many showstopper bugs have you logged?
  • In your opinion, is the AUT ready to ship?

And once again, I find myself with the same conclusion; there is simply too much to test in the available time. Testers reduce their chances of success by trying to do the devs’ job too.

Should you log a bug without knowing the expected results?

Someone chuckled at my “?” for the expected results, during a bug review meeting. The bug (like many of my bugs) looked like this:

Repro Steps:
1. do something
2. do something else
3. do something else

Expected Results: ?
Actual Results: an unhandled error is thrown

Good testers determine scenarios that nobody thought of. That is one skill that makes us good testers. Some time ago, I didn’t let myself log bugs until I tracked down the proper oracles and determined the expected results; a practice that sounds good…until you try it. Unfortunately, the oracles are never quick to respond. Often they pose questions to the users, which open additional discussions, meetings, etc…until the tester forgets the details of their wonderful test.

So these days, if I encounter a bug and I don’t know the expected results, I log the bug immediately and let someone else worry about expected results…if they even care. It’s not because I’m too lazy to seek out my oracles. It’s because my time is better spent logging more bugs! When in doubt, remember, the tester’s primary job is to provide information about the AUT. It’s not the responsibility of the tester to determine expected results. If the tester identifies a scenario that will crash the AUT, they should log the bug now.

I’m surprised by how many people still send around bmp files of their entire desktop when they are only interested in showing some small error message displaying in a little window. They are using the [Print Screen] key. Some, at least know they can use [Alt]/[Print Screen] to capture only the active window.

Others prefer to capture only the area the audience needs to understand; they may use a screen capture app. I’ve been using Wisdom-soft’s free ScreenHunter . I’ve got it customized to capture the area within a rectangle I draw, after pressing F6. After drawing my rectangle, its contents capture as an auto-named gif file and a clipboard item.

Screen-capture-type-stuff I think about :

  • I try to avoid screen capturing error messages, opting instead to capture the error message in text format, from an error log. That way the dev can see the whole message and copy the text if they want to search the code or something. If the devs don't log the error, they're stuck with a screen capture.
  • If the screen capture needs other context (e.g., which programs are running in my tray, what time is it) I still capture the entire desktop.
  • Occasionally I mark up the screen capture (in Paint.NET) to circle something or add other annotations.
  • If capturing action is better, I capture video.
  • Sometimes I save time by using a screen capture to support repro steps. Example: Capture a filter page for a report and write a repro step that says "specify all filter criteria as depicted in the screen capture".

What (free) screen capture program do you use? What screen capture tips did I miss?

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