Thursday, May 7, 2009

Test Roulette

I'm a big fan of fun in the workplace. Let's fact it, sometimes our work can be a bit dull (I have to do another upgrade?! Oh, man!). I figure sometimes anyone's work gets a bit dull. Having fun at work helps keep things fresh and entertaining.

In a lot of ways, we need to be sure to extend this to our jobs. Sure, naming conference rooms or goofing off with some toys is a great diversion, but there are things we can do to keep our actual tasks fun, too. (Yes, of course, they're inherently fun, but keeping it up is more what I'm talking about here.)

One of the things I get into personally is Test Roulette. When we're in a release cycle in particular, and to a lesser extent during the development cycle, we're faced with choices about what to test. To a large part these choices are driven by the perceived risk of the feature, the stability of the feature, etc. Often, however, within those categorizations there is a set of things and it doesn't really matter in which order you do them. In the end, who really cares if you test LDAP integration before NIS integration or after, as long as both are simple regression tests and not code under change? At least as a manager, I don't really care what gets done first as long as they both get done.

Enter Test Roulette: right now I do this manually. I put each of my choices on a slip of paper, shake 'em up, and pull one at random out of a hat. I'd love to do this in software. I'd want something that had all my test requirements in it (features, missions, cases, however you're breaking it down), and I'd want to enter a constraint. Then push a button and out pops a test case! 

It's a tiny, silly little thing, but it's a lot more fun than just staring at my list and feeling my eyes glaze over. Just that little bit of anticipation makes a big difference. It keeps me out of a rut - I'm not doing 42 Active Directory tests in a row - and helps keep my brain fresh and thinking across the system as a whole.

What do you do to keep your testing activities fun?

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