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2010 Issue #4

When it comes to software testing, is good luck ever enough? Hear from a university professor who tries to help his students understand the "real world." Plus hear from a tester who was asked to reactivate the testing community at his company, and how he did it.

Articles in this issue:

Relying on More than Just Good Luck
One of the 50 Best Places to Work Gets Even Better
Suggestions Wanted!
Thanks to Our Volunteers
News and Offers from ASTQB Accredited Course Providers
Tell the World About Your Achievement
Certification Training/Exams Coming to an Area Near You

  

Relying on More than Just Good Luck

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"I think I need to release the software now."

"Didn't you want to do more testing?"

"Sure, but I've used up all my budget and now I'm right up against the deadline."

"Well, good luck."

An all-too-familiar discussion, but not this time in a business setting. It's the kind of exchange you might hear in Taz Daughtrey's university classroom.

The students are running a simulation of a software development project, and they are struggling with the usual tradeoffs between budget, schedule, scope, and appraisal activities such as testing.

Photos courtesy James Madison University

Daughtrey, a founding director of the ASTQB, teaches software engineering at James Madison University, and the course always includes a semester-long team-based project.

This fall Daughtrey chose as the students' project the modification of a software project simulation. The game, called SimSE, was originally developed by Emily Navarro at the University of California-Irvine and was recognized with the 2009 Premier Award for Excellence in Engineering Education Courseware.

Several different developments models -- such as rapid prototyping, incremental delivery, and waterfall -- are available, and users can make decisions about selecting staff and assigning tasks to them. The goal is to release a software product with the fewest number of unknown defects.

Users might gain some insights through trial-and-error in repeated running of the simulation, but SimSE also contains an explanatory function that instructs about the underlying rules that govern the game. Daughtrey challenged his students to modify or add rules and to improve both the play value and the educational benefit of the game.

SimSE already had several testing-related rules, such as

"Develop tests before doing the coding."

"Tests reveal defects in the code.  The better a test is prepared, the higher number of detected defects."

"Test complexity can be reduced by using testing tools, building the product with testing in mind, and testing for the type of environment in which the product will be used."

Daughtrey's students were given access to software engineering references including their textbook, online resources, and the ISTQB Glossary and Foundation Level Syllabus.

"The ISTQB documents are the product of world-wide collaboration and represent the best professional consensus on testing terminology and practice," says Daughtrey. "I always want my students to be connected with the world beyond the classroom walls. Many of them will soon be seeking internships or full-time employment, and I urge them to be prepared to pursue certifications ... certainly the ISTQB if it is applicable in their careers."

Working in teams of four or five individuals each, students first worked to understand the existing simulation and then to design and implement their improvements. Their efforts were themselves run as small-scale development projects, including the generation of test plans and the conduct of a range of tests on their applications.

The undergraduates (a total of over 50 students) chose to focus mainly on improved graphics, information displays, and refined rules. A separate graduate course addressing secure software engineering added features such as threat modeling and penetration testing.

The projects were as real-world as possible within the constraints of the academic setting. In fact, as the final week of the semester approached you would more and more often hear students say...

"I don't have time to test everything I wanted to."

"All the planned features can't be implemented before the deadline."

"Well, good luck."  

 

One of the 50 Best Places to Work Gets Even Better

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Asked by his supervisor to reactivate the testing community at Aquilent (http://www.aquilent.com), Senior Technical Consultant Anthony Prematta began monthly meetings with the 10 test professionals working at the company. Initially, the group discussed various issues that reared their heads on different projects, such as compliance with the U.S. government's Section 508, which mandates IT accessibility for people with disabilities.

The big challenges, though, were the ones they faced going from project to project. "There are always going to be differences between the projects and among the testers," says Prematta. "Despite these differences, we knew that following certain testing guidelines and standard practices would help with transitions."

The group decided to begin setting goals that would not only help the company's testers, but also the company itself. It quickly became apparent to everyone that testing certification would not only help the testers get their job done more efficiently, it would also help the company's relationship with clients, explains Prematta, who had been testing for seven years before coming to Aquilent, one of the 50 best places to work in greater Washington, according to the Washington Business Journal. The company provides a variety of technical solutions and services, exclusively for federal government agencies, including several defense departments, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Department of Treasury, among others.

"We liked the idea of certification because it would help all of us get on the same page speaking the same language," says Prematta. "When you get testers together they all know kind of how to do something, and they know some techniques and practices, but they don't really know the same terminology."

The group looked at three different certifications programs. "It was apparent pretty quickly ISTQB was definitely the best fit for us," Prematta says, pointing to the information ISTQB provided, including sample questions, and especially the syllabus. And they liked the fact that ISTQB offered several levels of certification.

They also liked the fact that the ISTQB certification never expired. "We looked at the other certification programs, but they all had expiration dates, which meant we would have to continually ask for that to be put into our training budget. That didn't make sense to me."

The company purchased the ISTQB foundation testing books, and the group got together once a month to prepare for the test. From the period of last December through February, 7 Aquilent testers were certified. Because of varying project demands, each tester took the exam when they were comfortable.

Prematta says he has had time to judge the results. "Since the certification, I have definitely seen positive results," says Prematta. "I have been on two projects with fellow certified testers now, and we are able to use the material we learned right off the bat. We know exactly what each other is talking about, which also aids us in incorporating terminology in some of the test cases to increase reusability. We are all better testers now. The company knows it, and so do our clients."

 

Suggestions Wanted!

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Do you have suggestions for software testing reference materials, magazines or books that should be added to the Educational Resources area of the ASTQB website? Let us know on our Facebook page!

Join your other ASTQB colleagues on Facebook as an elite part of the testing community. You are just a click away from special ASTQB announcements, previews and giveaways: http://www.facebook.com/pages/ASTQB-ISTQB-in-the-US/119329946198

 

Thanks to Our Volunteers

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As volunteer-run organizations, ASTQB and ISTQB are grateful for the countless hours donated by our software testing experts. As busy as they are, they find time to squeeze in even more volunteer activities and software testing education:

  • Patricia McQuaid, PhD, CTFL, President of ASTQB, has been named Vice-Chair of the ISTQB's Marketing Working Group.
  • Cathy Kiser, CTAL-TM, -TA, a member of the ASTQB Technical Advisory Group, has been named the Harlan Volunteer of the Year Bronze Award winner for her work with domestic violence victims. Volunteering more than 65 hours per month, Cathy says, "keeps me grateful for the many blessings in my life."
  • Rex Black, CTAL, a member of the ASTQB Board of Directors, has recently given talks on testing for the Austin SPIN, for software professionals in Miri, Malaysia, and at the JSTQB conference in Tokyo, Japan. He is finishing a book and a magazine article, and in his spare time completed the San Antonio Half Marathon.
  • Judy McKay, CTAL, a member of the ASTQB Technical Advisory Group, recently spoke at the Software Test Professionals conference in Las Vegas, and has been invited back to speak at their Spring conference in Nashville on "Becoming, Being and Building a Leader."

 

News and Offers from ASTQB Accredited Course Providers

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ALP International (ALPI): Refer a friend to our Dec. 13 - 15 public training course & exam and YOU get an iPod Touch! Book our onsite training & exam for your company by Jan. 31, 2011 and YOU get an iPad! To register or for more details contact Katelynn at 301-654-9200 x403.

RBCS, Inc.: RBCS, Inc boasts an impressive lineup of ISTQB Certified Tester courses in live delivery, e-learning and blended formats. To ring in 2011, visit the RBCS store today and receive an 11% discount on any e-learning product including certification e-learning courses or non-certification e-learning courses! Enter the code ASTQB11 in your cart to receive your discount. Offer valid until February 28, 2011.

SQE Training: Enhance your career with certification. SQE Training offers ISTQB Certified Tester courses in both Public classroom and eLearning formats. For a limited time, register for any of our public Software Tester Certification Courses and receive $211 discount off the regular price. For course details and dates as well as to register, visit http://www.sqetraining.com/Training/Course.aspx?Course=STF. Enter code STF11 at registration. Offer valid until December 31, 2010.

TCT Computing Group (www.tctcomputing.com): Book an onsite training session for 1-5 students with TCT Computing Group and send a 6th student for no additional charge. *charge for exam still applies for 6th student.

Register and send 3 students to the same public training session and get a 4th student at no additional charge. *charge for exam still applies for 4th student.

Villanova University: $100,000 in scholarships are available for professionals interested in gaining additional skills training, such as the Software Testing program from Villanova University. Taught by Rex Black, the past president of ISTQB®, each course of the master track prepares you for the rigors of the CTFL certification exam. Scholarship opportunities are available until 12/31/2010. For additional program and scholarship information, click here.

 

Tell the World About Your Achievement

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The more information you share about your certification, the more valuable it will become. So when you achieve ISTQB Certification, tell the world. Right now, add a link to the ASTQB website, http://www.astqb.org, from your Twitter account, personal website, company websites, blog, Facebook page, MySpace page, LinkedIn information, and email signature.

 

Certification Training/Exams Coming to an Area Near You

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If you would like to receive notification when ISTQB Certification training and exams are in your area, simply enter your request at: http://www.astqb.org/general/newsletter.php. Below is a list of scheduled public ISTQB certification exams. Details are available at the ASQTB website at http://www.astqb.org or by contacting the ASTQB office at info@astqb.org.

Upcoming Events and Training Dates

December 6-10, 2010
ISTQB Advanced Test Manager Training
Silver Spring, MD

December 6-10, 2010
ISTQB Advanced Technical Test Analyst Training
Seattle, WA

January 24-28, 2011
ISTQB Advanced Test Analyst Training
San Francisco, CA

January 31- February 4, 2011
ISTQB Advanced Technical Test Analyst Training
Austin, TX

February 7-11, 2011
ISTQB Advanced Test Manager Training
Atlanta, GA

February 28-March 3, 2011
ISTQB Test Engineering Foundation Level Training
Newark, NJ

March 7-11, 2011
ISTQB Advanced Test Analyst Training
Toronto, Canada

March 21-25, 2011
ISTQB Advanced Technical Test Analyst Training
Toronto, Canada

March 28-31, 2011
ISTQB Test Engineering Foundation Level Training
Atlanta, GA

April 4-8, 2011
ISTQB Advanced Test Manager Training
Toronto, Canada

April 5-7, 2011
Requirements Engineering Foundation
Austin, TX

May 2-6, 2011
ISTQB Advanced Test Analyst Training
Washington, DC

May 2-5, 2011
ISTQB Test Engineering Foundation Level Training
San Jose, CA

May 23-27, 2011
ISTQB Advanced Technical Test Analyst Training
Newark, NJ

June 6-10, 2011
ISTQB Advanced Test Manager Training
Austin, TX

June 7-9, 2011
Managing the Testing Process
Chicago IL

 

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What Would You Like to Learn About?

As always, we welcome your feedback and criticism. Let us know what we can do to help make you and your company better at software testing at info@astqb.org.

About ISTQB Certification News

ISTQB Certification News is a free software testing newsletter from ASTQB providing news, analysis, and interviews for the software tester community. Feel free to forward to colleagues or ask them to subscribe at:

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Copyright 2008 American Software Testing Qualifications Board, Inc. (ASTQB) 13153 N Dale Mabry Hwy, Suite 105 Tampa, FL 33618 USA Phone 813.319.0890 Fax 813.968.3597 info@astqb.org www.astqb.org

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