Thoughts from Conference of the Association for Software Testing (CAST) 2011

Most importantly Michael Hunter (@humbugreality aka Braidy Tester) inspired me with a reason to tweet (@kstobie).   I use OneNote extensively to take notes at
conferences, meetings, etc.   Typing helps me focus and remember.   I marked items in OneNote such as Books, URLs, and other things to follow up on.   Now I will tweet these!

Several interesting things for me from #CAST2011:

History of Testing

James Bach keynote mentioned Hetzel’s1973 book Program Test Methods which I was not familiar with, having always heard of Myers book as the first testing book.   This led me to two wonderful references:

Great graphic:

I agree with the Matthew Heusser Creative Chaos blog entry that understanding history can be helpful to interpret today and avoid repeating mistakes or having to relearn/reinvent what has already been done.   I’d prefer to stand on the shoulders of giants like Newton.

Quality Criteria Categories

I frequently refer people to Satisfice’s Heuristic Test Strategy Model which includes @jamesmarcusbach Quality Criteria Categories.  A nice update of the categories has been done at

One interesting add was
Charisma. Does the product have “it”?
                     With the acronym SPACE HEADS for subcategories.
See the CAST slides when posted for hints about how to measure.

How to Reduce the Cost of Software Testing

Due to #CAST2011 panel by contributors to the book How to Reduce the Cost of Software Testing, I’ve asked Microsoft library to order it.
Michael Bolton was looking at cost beyond time & money, for example emotional & psychological cost, in his contribution.
Jon Bach talked about “TBS” –  End of every day, how many hours in each of 3 areas [% of time today in eBay]

30% Test design & execution
40% Bug investigation & reporting
30% Setup

Then ask how to reduce B and S to focus on T?

While looking around for dice game, I ran across a set of old (2007) Rapid Software Testing slides with the info below [Note current 2011 slides don’t have this]

Consider cost vs. value in all your testing activity.
Slide 23:

Coverage.   The value of the elements of the product that are exercised by the test.
Power.         The probability that if a problem exists in the area covered, the test will reveal it.
Integrity.     The degree to which the test can be trusted, because its results are valid and  consistent across multiple executions of that test.
Technical Necessity. The degree to which the information we want to discover exists; and the degree to which that information matters.
Business Necessity. The degree to which a test is expected to be performed by your clients.

COSTS (remember that time = money)

Opportunity Cost. Performing it may prevent you from doing other tests.
Development. The cost of getting ready to perform the test.
Execution.  The cost of performing it as needed.
Transfer.     The cost of getting someone else ready to run that test.
Maintenance. The cost of keeping it running.
Accounting. The cost of explaining the test, justifying it, show that it was performed.

Quick Ideas

Dice Game

James Bach keynote on New Cool Things claims dice game is such a thing.   It is
an exercise from the Rapid Software Testing course.    Best description I could find is .
It is something that must be experience in order to learn the lessons many
bloggers mentioned.   I thought I would need to learn from @humbugreality
or Tom Wilk, but James Bach led a round during “Test Games” session at CAST.   Didn’t get the retrospective and learnings yet.


Lynette Creamer – old tools, new Tricks

‘SnagIt’ tool  {note Works differently on Vmware Fusion}
Example feature better than free Windows “Snipping Tool”
— Snag a scrolled list of all items with Text capture  (like reading DB).

I mentioned you can use Snipping Tool and paste into OneNote which then allows you to select the text from the image (via OCR).   Lynette said AdobePro OCR of images works also.
Old favorites: Process Explorer and Beyond Compare
James Bach has a list in his keynote also.

Stub/Fake a web server as a backend for another web server or client using Sinatra
(Ruby, RubyGems).

Test Coverage

Frequent reference to this (slide 144 of old RST), including “3+” (very thorough testing?)

0  We have no good information about this area.
1  Sanity Check: major functions & simple data.
1+ More than sanity, but many functions not tested.
2  Common Cases: all functions touched; common & critical tests executed.
2+ Some data, state, or error coverage beyond level 2.
3  Corner Cases: strong data, state, error, or stress testing.


About testmuse

Software Test Architect in distributed computing.
This entry was posted in software testing. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Thoughts from Conference of the Association for Software Testing (CAST) 2011

  1. Moe says:

    Hi. I’m very new to software testing having started on our QA team in Dec 2012. I’ve mostly been using VS2010 to create automated tests. I was wondering if you thought CAST conference was worth attending. Tnx.

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