Einstein: the Minesweeper Robot (in Brisbane)

I gave a talk tonight to the Brisbane Special Interest Group in Software Testing (SIGIST). There was a great turnout (tickets went in 24 hours after the announcement apparently), and there was some good interest in Einstein (plus 3 people who had never played Minesweeper, what the?).

Alister will discuss browser automation, using an example of writing a Minesweeper robot. Einstein, his robot, proficiently plays Minesweeper in a web browser and was developed using specification by example techniques using Watir, RSpec and Cucumber in the Ruby programming language.


Alister is an Agile tester who currently works for ThoughtWorks Australia and author of watirmelon.com. He’s been actively involved in the Watir open source project for a number of years and his passions include ruby programming and collecting arid plants.

In getting the slides ready, I actually came up with a reasonable list of things that building Einstein taught me about software testing (and software development in general):

  • Break big things down into little things
  • Design for testability
  • Test in the right places
  • Supplement your automated testing
  • Build in performance measures
  • Change your mind
  • Be young, be foolish, be happy

The last two points weren’t really related but I threw them in there for good measure.

Here’s the slides (and a link to the originals):

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And here’s that video of Einstein in action:

Good times.

An automated testing journey

I did a presentation this evening in Brisbane on an automated testing journey that one may embark on. The whole thing was centered around this tube map style diagram I came up with recently: (download in PDF)

Here’s a link to my prezi slides and it should appear below (if you have flash enabled that is).  You can also download them in very printable PDF if you so choose.

I feel the presentation was well received, but I really shouldn’t have tried to squeeze three days of thinking into 30 mins. Oh well.

As always, I welcome your feedback.

My thoughts on Brisbane ANZTB SIGIST: September 2010

I went along to the ANZTB SIGIST last night, at the Hilton here in Brisbane. It was probably the best one I’ve been to, both in attendance, and caliber of presenters. There were five presenters all up, which is a lot to squeeze into two hours including drinks and conversation. It’s no surprise then that the last presentation by Craig Aspinall was a little bit rushed, which is a shame because I would have liked to ask more questions than time allowed (apparently the Hilton would kick us out if we stayed longer).

Craig Smith and Rene Masten from Suncorp began with an excellent presentation on Agile Testing. Craig was awesome in both presenting his extensive knowledge (he’s a coach) and his slides were also very cool (minimal text and no bullets!).

Craig’s main theme was about how to make testing cool: ensuring people say “that’s cool” when you tell them about your testing. He talked about what makes up an agile team, the techical divide between devs and testers, ATDD, ensuring you deliver, and how there is currently a great opportunity for testers (who want to be bothered). Rene followed by talking about organizational change, training and coaching, communicating what you’re doing (internally and externally) and building quality in.

Craig finished with a great motivating style of emphasizing it’s all about passion and craft, “who’s awesome!”, and not being afraid of technical challenges.

The other presenters were Ben Sullivan and Brent Acworth, both also from Suncorp, who gave a demo of BDD using JBehave and Hudson. I enjoyed the talk but there wasn’t much I hadn’t seen before or didn’t know.

The final presentation was by Craig Aspinall and was unfortunately squeezed into a small time slot. It was about what Craig dubs “Automated Black Blob Testing”, the rationale being testing is not black box as a box has a predefined shape, it’s more of a blob.

Craig’s approach looked solid, although I was slightly concerned when he mentioned the project being a SaaS solution and how much effort was being put into automated testing.  I’m not criticizing what Craig did tehnically, I am just concerned about the prevalent practice of the onus of testing SaaS solutions being put onto the customer. I believe if you buy a SaaS, you should get a working SaaS, minimal, if any at all, testing required. But that’s just me. Otherwise, a great talk, besides Craig using Java when Ruby and Watir would have done the trick. ;)

A great ANZTB SIGIST, and hopefully more good ones to come!

Craig Smith’s Slides

Some of my photos

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Upcoming agile testing meetup in Brisbane, Australia

I just got this email from Thoughtworks, and have registered to attend. See you there if you’re in Brisbane.

You are invited to the launch meeting of the Brisbane chapter of the Agile Alliance Australia (AAA). Last year’s inaugural Agile Australia conference established the AAA and it is envisaged that local chapters will provide ongoing education and knowledge-sharing.

ThoughtWorks Global Testing Practice Lead Kristan Vingrys will be our guest speaker discussing the Changing Role of a Tester. Kristan has over 10 years experience in software testing encompassing a wide range of testing practices for both products and applications within a diverse range of industries. He has presented on agile testing and articles – including a chapter in the ThoughtWorks Anthology Book. He has been involved in solution delivery, coaching and mentoring teams with a focus on testing, agile processes and how the two compliment each other.

The Changing Role of a Tester

IT development is getting faster business now expects applications in months not years. Testing has to keep up and can not afford to be seen as a bottleneck. Traditional ways of testing no longer work with the rapid software development methodologies being used; there is no time to do big up-front test case design or multiple cycle test executions. Testers have to become more agile and embrace change while still providing quality information about the application being developed.

Testing on an agile project is different to a waterfall project; it is not just about doing waterfall in smaller iterations. Nor is it focused on finding as many defects as possible, instead the goal is to work as a team delivering quality working software that satisfies customer need. There are some new skills that testers will need to learn, but they do not need to throw away everything they already know. Changing the mindset about how, when and why of testing will help a tester adapt their existing skills to become an invaluable resource on any agile team.

When: 5:30pm, Thursday 13th May
Where: See the meetup site

After the discussion, we will go locally for drinks, food and networking for those interested, location TBA

Please register at the Brisbane Chapter meetup.com site: Brisbane Chapter – First Meeting

Look forward to seeing you there!

Update 19 July 2010:

Link to a great write up by Craig Smith is here, plus slides are here (pdf).

Australian Test Automation Workshop (TAW) 2009

TAW 2009 is coming up on August 27 & 28 and I have already confirmed my attendance (GTAC is a very long flight!) and created a LinkedIn event. TAW is held every year at Bond University on the Gold Coast in Australia.

I did a quick presentation last year, and I think I might do something a bit different this year.

You can download the presentation in full here.

My ANZTB SIGIST Watir Slides

It’s been a while since I presented at the Brisbane ANZTB SIGIST but here are my slides: note no bullets (as usual).

(it’s a shame you can’t embed Google Docs presentations here yet)