When someone walks up to your desk and asks, “How’s the testing going?”, a good answer depends on remembering to tell that person the right things.

After reading Michael Kelly’s post on coming up with a heuristic (model), I felt inspired to tweak his MCOASTER test reporting heuristic model.  I tried using it but it felt awkward.  I wanted one that was easier for me to remember, with slightly different trigger words, ordered better for my context.  It was fun.  Here is what I did:

  1. I listed all the words that described things I may want to cover in a test report.  Some words were the same as Michael Kelly’s but some were different (e.g., “bugs”).
  2. Then I took the first letter of each of my words and plugged them into Wordsmith.org’s anagram solver.
  3. Finally, I skimmed through the anagram solver results, until I got to those starting with ‘M’ (I knew I wanted ‘Mission’ to be the first trigger).  If my mnemonic didn’t jump out at me, I tweaked the input words slightly using synonyms and repeated step 2.

Two minutes later I settled on MORE BATS.  After being an avid caver for some 13 years, it was perfect.  When someone asks for a test report, I feel slightly lost at first, until I see MORE BATS.  Just like in caving; when deep into the cave I feel lost, but seeing “more bats” is a good sign the entrance is in that general direction, because more bats tend to be near the entrance.

Here’s how it works (as a test report heuristic):










“My mission is to test the new calendar control.  My only obstacle is finding enough data in the future for some of my scenarios.  The risks I’m testing include long range future entries, multiple date ranges, unknown begin dates, and extremely old dates.  I’m using the Dev environment because the control is not working in QA.  I found two date range bugsSince this is a programmer (audience) asking me for a test report I will describe my techniques; I’m checking my results in database tableA because the UI is not completed.  I think I’ll be done today (status).”

Try to make your own and let me know what you come up with.


  1. Lanessa Hunter said...

    Thanks for the fun mnemonic to add to my testing tool belt. -not a caver, but I have a soft spot for bats since spending a little time as a volunteer student researcher for BCI, catching bats at night, miles out at desert watering holes, radioing and releasing a few, and hiking signal equipment up piles of aged guano in Carlsbad Caverns National Park during the day.

    Keep up the great posts!

  2. Eric Jacobson said...


    That's so cool that you volunteered at BCI. What a great organization. My grotto, Dogwood City Grotto gives grants to BCI every year and they are always gratious.

    I'm glad you found this post. You may also enjoy this caving related post, Exploratory Testers Can Learn From Cavers

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