Agile Testing

Agile Testing

WHAT DO WE MEAN BY “AGILE TESTING”? | Traditional vs. Agile Testing | Agile | Testing with Agile | Agile Approach | Traditional Approach


You might have noticed that we use the term “tester” to describe a person whose main activities revolve around testing and quality assurance. You’ll also see that we often use the word “programmer” to describe a person whose main activities revolve around writing production code. We don’t intend that these terms sound narrow or insignificant. Programmers do more than turn a specification into a program. We don’t call them “developers,” because everyone involved in delivering software is a developer. Testers do more than perform “testing tasks.” Each agile team member is focused on delivering a high-quality product that provides business value. Agile testers work to ensure that their team delivers the quality their customers need. We use the terms “programmer” and “tester” for convenience.

Several core practices used by agile teams relate to testing. Agile programmers use test-driven development (TDD), also called test-driven design, to write quality production code. With TDD, the programmer writes a test for a tiny bit of functionality, sees it fail, writes the code that makes it pass, and then moves on to the next tiny bit of functionality. Programmers also write code integration tests to make sure the small units of code work together as intended. This essential practice has been adopted by many teams, even those that don’t call themselves “agile,” because it’s just a smart way to think through your software design and prevent defects.

If you want to know how agile values, principles, and practices applied to testing can help you, as a tester, do your best work, and help your team deliver more business value, please keep reading. If you’ve bothered to pick up this book, you’re probably the kind of professional who continually strives to grow and learn. You’re likely to have the mind-set that a good agile team needs to succeed. This book will show you ways to improve your organization’s product, provide the most value possible to your team, and enjoy your job.

If you’ve worked in the software industry long, you’ve probably know that Working harder and longer doesn’t help
when your task is impossible to achieve. Agile development acknowledges the reality that we only have so many good productive hours in a day or week, and that we can’t plan away the inevitability of change.

Agile development encourages us to solve our problems as a team. Business people, programmers, testers, analysts—everyone involved in software development—decides together how best to improve their product. Best of all, as testers, we’re working together with a team of people who all feel responsible for delivering the best possible quality, and who are all focused on testing. We love doing this work, and you will too.

When we say “agile testing”  we’re usually talking about business facing tests, tests that define the business experts’ desired features and functionality. We consider “customer-facing” a synonym for “business-facing.” “Testing” in this book also includes tests that critique the product and focus
on discovering what might be lacking in the finished product so that we can improve it. It includes just about everything beyond unit and component level testing: functional, system, load, performance, security, stress, usability, exploratory, end-to-end, and user acceptance. All these types of tests might
be appropriate to any given project, whether it’s an agile project or one using more traditional methodologies.

Agile testing doesn’t just mean testing on an agile project. Some testing approaches, such as exploratory testing, are inherently agile, whether it’s done an agile project or not. Testing an application with a plan to learn about it as you go, and letting that information guide your testing, is in line with valuing working software and responding to change. Later chapters discuss agile forms of testing as well as “agile testing” practices.

Traditional vs. Agile Testing


In the phased approach diagram, it is clear that testing happens at the end, right before release. The diagram is idealistic, because it gives the impression there is as much time for testing as there is for coding. In many projects, this is not the case. The testing gets “squished” because coding takes longer than expected, and because teams get into a code-and-fix cycle at the end.

Agile is iterative and incremental. This means that the testers test each increment of coding as soon as it is finished. An iteration might be as short as one week, or as long as a month. The team builds and tests a little bit of code, making sure it works correctly, and then moves on to next piece that needs to
be built. Programmers never get ahead of the testers, because a story is not “done” until it has been tested. 

There’s tremendous variety in the approaches to projects that agile teams take. One team might be dedicated to a single project or might be part of another bigger project. No matter how big your project is, you still have to start somewhere.
Your team might take on an epic or feature, a set of related stories at an estimating meeting, or you might meet to plan the release. Regardless of how a project or subset of a project gets started, you’ll need to get a high-level understanding
of it. You might come up with a plan or strategy for testing as you prepare for a release, but it will probably look quite different from any test plan you’ve done before.

Every project, every team, and sometimes every iteration is different. How your team solves problems should depend on the problem, the people, and the tools you have available. As an agile team member, you will need to be adaptive to the team’s needs.

Rather than creating tests from a requirements document that was created by business analysts before anyone ever thought of writing a line of code, someone will need to write tests that illustrate the requirements for each story days or hours before coding begins. This is often a collaborative effort between a business or domain expert and a tester, analyst, or some other development team member. Detailed functional test cases, ideally based on examples provided by business experts, flesh out the requirements. Testers will conduct
manual exploratory testing to find important bugs that defined test cases might miss. Testers might pair with other developers to automate and execute test cases as coding on each story proceeds. Automated functional tests are added to the regression test suite. When tests demonstrating minimum
functionality are complete, the team can consider the story finished.

Author: Saad Mansuri

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