'10 Great but now Overlooked Tools' by Graham Thomas

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The idea for this presentation came directly from EuroSTAR 2011. Sitting on the bus back to the conference centre after attending the Gala Dinner, a discussion started, about industry luminaries who turn up at conferences and give presentations which roughly say "Don't do all the stuff that I told you to do 5 years ago! Do this stuff now." But, but, but . . . .

As we got talking I realised how many simple effective tools I no longer used, because they have either become overlooked, forgotten and thus fallen into disuse, or because modern methods claim not to need them and they are redundant. I wondered if any of them were worth looking at again - starting with my trusty flowcharting template; I realised it is a great tool which I have overlooked for far too long!

Here is my list of 10 great but now overlooked tools:


• Flowcharts
• Prototypes
• Project Plans
• Mind Maps
• Tools we already have at our disposal like ....
• Aptitude Tests
• Hexadecimal Calculators
• Desk Checking
• Data Dictionaries and Workbenches

This is my list of really useful tools that I think are overlooked. In the webinar I will outline each tool, why I think it was great, and what we are missing out by not using it.

And it naturally follows that if there are some tools we have overlooked then there are also some tools that we should get rid of! I will identify some.

Hopefully this webinar will give you a different perspective on tools to use for testing, some tools that may be improved upon or plain discarded, and help you think about the tools you currently use and maybe to view them in a different light.

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'10 Great but now Overlooked Tools' by Graham Thomas

  1. 1. Today’s webinar is presented by Graham Thomas and he willdiscuss 10 Great but now Overlooked ToolsWelcome to the EuroSTAR MayWebinar Serieswww.eurostarconferences.comThis webinar is due to start at 2pm. Make sure you stick around at the end for theQ&A session and continue the conversation with the speaker on Twitter after theshow!@esconfs#esconfs
  2. 2. 10 Great but now Overlooked ToolsGraham Thomas, Independent Software Testing Consultant, UK“I wrote my first computer program at college in 1978. Started working in IT in the early 1980s as aprogrammer, and discovered software testing in the early 1990s since when I have not looked back. I have formalqualifications in programming, analysis and design, project management and software testing.I have worked for a large consultancy, several smaller management consultancies, and also for a systems house, aswell as various end users. I have wide ranging experience of IT, development and software testing, covering thepublic sector, retail, finance, banking insurance and treasury.Currently I work as either a program test manager or implementing testing change. Prior to this I worked as a testmanager.I am frequent and popular speaker at testing seminars and conferences around the world. I won the 2006 BCSSIGiST Best Presentation award, and have given time to conference programme committees, presentation reviewpanels, and testing award deliberations.”www.eurostarconferences.com@esconfs#esconfs
  3. 3. Join the conversation on Twitter#esconfs@esconfs@GrahamNThomaswww.eurostarconferences.comContinue the conversation with the speaker on Twitter after the show!@esconfs#esconfs
  4. 4. Graham ThomasIndependent Software Testing Consultant10 Great but now Overlooked ToolsWebinar2:00pm28th May 2013@esconfs #esconfs
  5. 5. BackgroundOn the coach back from the EuroSTAR Gala Dinner in2011: Don‟t do all that Stuff I said 5 years ago Do this nowBut, but, but . . . .As we were talking I realised how many simple andeffective tools I no longer used, because they had eitherbecome overlooked or we don‟t use them because theyare redundant.I wondered if these tools were worth looking atagain – starting with my flowcharting template; Irealised it is a great tool which I have overlooked fortoo long.So let‟s set the record straight, build a list of overlookedtools, put it on a Mind Map, and share it with thecommunity afterwards, or even as we do it?And if there are tools we have forgotten, then surelythere are tools we should forget! I wonder what theymight be?@esconfs #esconfs
  6. 6. At the EuroSTAR Conference@esconfs #esconfsI first made this presentation at EuroSTAR 2012 in Amsterdam.The conference theme was „Innovation and Renovation‟.For Renovation I was very clearly talking about tools that wehad overlooked and could maybe use again.For Innovation I challenged myself to deliver thepresentation, which also included two mind-mappingsessions, using a Raspberry PI.A what?The Raspberry Pi is a $35 credit card sized computer that runsa version of Linux. http://www.raspberrypi.org/This was not easy but on the day it looked seamless.Unfortunately we can‟t use the Raspberry Pi today . . . . . . .
  7. 7.  Introduction A general moan Tools we haveforgotten Tools we shouldforget Summary QuestionsAgenda for the Session
  8. 8. A General MoanIt is an odd subject, overlooked tools. It sort of lends itself to agood old blast of Nostalgia. Things were better in my day, backwhen it was hard.And now it is all too easy, etc. etc. etc.Well, I am not going to moan in that way.I think I am more productive than I have ever been in theworkplace.Things that were really hard 5, 10, 20, plus years ago are reallyeasy now.The level of platform integration we have today is frightening.I have cloud storage (Dropbox) on my phone.But yet, with all of this obvious advance I still see peoplestruggling with the basics, which is worrying that in our industrywe still haven‟t put this in place yet.Obviously we have a way to go to mature.But for now lets look at some tools that have fallen into disuseand may be ripe for resurrection!@esconfs #esconfs
  9. 9. My list of Tools we have forgotten1. Flowcharts2. Prototypes3. Project Plans4. Mind Maps5. Tools we already have at our disposal like ....(I will suggest some)6. Aptitude Tests7. Hexadecimal Calculators8. Desk Checking9. Data Dictionaries10. Workbenches@esconfs #esconfs
  10. 10. FlowchartsHave you ever seen one?Ever used one?Who has ever drawn aflowchart?They are making a comebacko In a User Manual to outlinesupport processIt is so easy to doo Pencilo Templateoter>@esconfs #esconfs
  11. 11. FlowchartsFlowchartingo Flowo Processo Logico Dry runo Write code fromo Easily understoodo But easy to make mistakes!@esconfs #esconfs
  12. 12. Flowcharts 2.0JSP - Structure Diagramo Elegant, but not as easyo Still make mistakeso Much harder when multipleprocesseso Designed for file processingo But I think led to the demise offlowcharts@esconfs #esconfs
  13. 13. Flowcharts vs JSP@esconfs #esconfs
  14. 14. FlowchartsAs it says in the advert – “StillWorking”.Yes, surprising as it mayseem, flowcharts still work.In fact remarkablywell, considering they teach thebasics of logic, which one wouldthink was essential for most formsof programming.And they are pictorial, easy todraw, after learning only a fewsimple rulesAM I A Horse?A helpful FlowchartStartHowmany legs doyou have?Areyou aHorse?StopCanyou read andwrite?YesNoTwo FourYes NoReally?YesNoYou areNOTa horse!MaybeLiar youare readingthis!@esconfs #esconfs
  15. 15. PrototypesRemember when it took so long to build asystem that your steakholders wanted a lookbefore you did too much damage.Of course, not everybody produced prototypes, butwhat a useful tool they were.I think that one of the real advantages theygave, apart from design validation andprocessing flow visualisation, was that youcould do early usability testing before you hadeven cut any code.I suspect that nowadays we are rushing so fast tocut working code that examining in depth how thesystem is going to be used just looks like a luxury.And with so many apps now being BangedOut™ as disposable commodities for phones, Ithink we are further away than ever fromconsidering usability, and the other things thatwe used to do with prototypes.@esconfs #esconfs3 basic types of Prototypeo Hollywood Seto Functional but discarded so no bellsand whistleso Functional basis for new system
  16. 16. Project PlansWhen did these get abolished? I knowthat engineers, who do like engineeringstuff, kinda still, like, use them!And I don‟t mean plans in Excel, or worse stillPowerPoint.I mean proper plans, withscheduling, dependencies, effort andresourcing.Surely a skill that is even more in needjudging by IT‟s continued inability to deliveranywhere near; on time, to budget or of thedesirous quality.I was taught, decades ago in college, thatthe US Military, fed up with how theirprojects always went out ofcontrol, invented the CPM (Critical PathMethod).So why do we not use this 50+ year old toolset? “Puzzles me greatly this does” (asYoda would say).GanttDependency Network@esconfs #esconfs
  17. 17. Mind MapsYou might think that I do nothingelse!Or that Mind Maps are really popular andare used all the time.Well, (in my experience) they aren‟t.I have attended too manyworkshops, brain storming (can we saythis anymore) sessions, or creativitymeetings, where one of the primary toolsisn‟t used.Not only isn‟t used, but isn‟t evenknown about!I use FreeMind, because it is, er, ….. Free!Mappa Mundi@esconfs #esconfs
  18. 18. How to Mind Map1. Start at thecentre of the page2. Don‟t be serious3. Free associate4. Think as fast asyou can5. There are noboundaries6. Don‟t judge toofast7. Go, go, go .....8. Add relationshipsand connections@esconfs #esconfs
  19. 19. Stuff that is already thereFor people who can remember IT before weall had a terminal on our desk, a personalcomputer, a laptop, a phone with moreprocessing capacity and storage thanmainframe computers I haveused, or even a swishy, wishy, tablet, thenit may come as a surprise to know that itwasn‟t always so, and some of the simplesttools, like the Snipping Tool in Windows7, would seem like science fiction only afew short decades ago.And there are so many more tools that justaid productivity.I wasted my best years doing these thingsmanually.Most of these tools are free, and alreadythere, we don‟t use them, possibly becausewe don‟t know about them!@esconfs #esconfs
  20. 20. Aptitude TestsWhen I started in IT I had to sit an aptitudetest, to show that I had some reasoning andlogical thinking capability, before an employerwould invest hugely in training me, and thenletting me loose on their vastly expensivecomputer systems.Why has the industry stopped doing this? Was thisnever a good thing? Mind you looking at some of thepeople who did pass the aptitude tests, you did haveto wonder.But to not do it at all surely is crazy?And I don‟t mean the feeble attempts at TestCertification that we currently have. They in no waymatch up to the logic and reasoning tests that werebeing used only 30 years ago.Where is the Software Testing - Reasoning andLogical Thinking - Aptitude Test eh?@esconfs #esconfs
  21. 21. Hexadecimal CalculatorsFor my first 15 years in IT I needed aHexadecimal Calculator.I always seemed to have to convert from Binaryto Hex or Decimal. Even Octal. But I don‟tanymore.I had a great calculator, still do actually; Itwas Solar Powered, worked underfluorescent light and had 10 digits.Yes, Ten.But I just don‟t need one anymore. Is thatbecause Software Testing isn‟t that difficult?Isn‟t computer sciency?What has gone wrong?It was good to feel like a nerd.Like you had a special skill.I now have an app, on my not so SmartPhone for this, but it doesn‟t feel thesame, and I hardly ever need to use it.@esconfs #esconfs
  22. 22. Desk CheckingIt may come as no surprise to discover thatwhen I started my programming career, theteam I worked in had one terminal between6 people!You had to book a slot to use it.Time was too valuable to key in programcode.That had to be sent away and printed onto cards.Because processing time was so valuable weused to do Desk Checking.Because it was cheaper in machine resource tocheck your code visibly before running, than torun it, find you had a failure, crash themachine, print out a dump, etc. etc.This isn‟t one of those „it was better in myday‟ tales though, because desk checkingwas a valuable debugging tool.We have the mental capacity to do thesethings, and this was before interactive debugging.I agree that the landscape is far morecomplex today, but I think some of the coredesk checking and debugging thinking skillshave been lost.There is no penalty for mistakes.In fact it is becoming quicker to makemistakes and then fix them than to avoidmaking them in the first place.(A whole development approach is predicated onthis - Testing in Production)6 legs@esconfs #esconfs
  23. 23. Data Dictionaries & WorkbenchesI am an ICL man. VME was the best operatingsystem ever!You could just log on to a mainframe and start doing stuff.Really powerful stuff. Long before UNIX. Something whichIBM never allowed on their mainframes.And with VME you got a Data Dictionary, that couldbuild TP (Transaction Processing) Services, coulddefine IDMSX (relational) Databases, and if you hadthe right utilities, could generate application codefor TP and Batch, that just worked!The only testing you needed to do was to ensure that youhad the requirements and design right.There was no need for constructional, i.e. Unit orSystem Testing, at all.But somehow that all seemed to go out of fashion.Yet, 20+ years later you see people struggling withproblems that IT has already produced workingsolutions for, but has in the intervening yearssomehow; forgotten, unlearnt, or discarded asinferior.I wonder why?ICL 2966Raspberry Pi@esconfs #esconfs
  24. 24. Stuff we could should do away withMy Z List• Plans in Excel or PowerPoint• Good Today Bad Tomorrow• The I have seen the light speech• Nostalgia• Lists• Etc.• Etc.oter>@esconfs #esconfs
  25. 25. For ExamplePROJECT PLANSPeople just don‟t know about logic and dependencies inproject planningHow to create a Critical Path Network in MSPPeople just create Gantt chartsAnd they just don‟t know about dependenciesI was asked recently how to display the dependencynetwork in MSPThen I was asked how long that had been in MSP“Oh I don’t know, 20 years or so, ever since thebeginning”It shows that people don‟t know and this lack of basicknowledge has led to bad practices, such as planning inExcel or worse PowerPoint.@esconfs #esconfs
  26. 26. Good Today - Bad TomorrowThe experts that turn up at conferencesand say don‟t do that do this. Almost ridiculing what you aredoing Making you feel embarrassed Small Insignificant So You promise to do what they tellyouOnly you realise that 5 years ago it wasthe very same expert who told you to doall of these „bad‟ things that you are doingnow!@esconfs #esconfs
  27. 27. SummaryHowever, here is some technology that weshouldn‟t resurrect!That was Great but what does it mean forme? I hope that this session has beenuseful and will help you to lookagain at tools and techniques thatyou may no longer use but maystill be beneficial. And I hope that you will alsoreview some of the tools andtechniques that you are using andask if they really are thebest, most efficient and effectiveways of getting the job done.@esconfs #esconfs
  28. 28. Thank You for ListeningGraham ThomasIndependent SoftwareTesting Consultantgraham@badgerscroft.comwww.badgerscroft.com@GrahamNThomas@esconfs #esconfs
  29. 29. EuroSTAR Webinar ArchiveAccess almost 50 on-demand software testing webinars by the worlds leadingtesting experts. Topics include….www.eurostarconferences.comAgile, Automation, Test Management, Process Improvements, Risk-based Testing, PerformanceTesting, Test Documentation, Cloud Testing, Session-based Testing, Weekend TestersVisit the archive!http://www.eurostarconferences.com/community/member/webinar-archive@esconfs#esconfs
  30. 30. The EuroSTAR Community.Are you a member?Did you know we have an online resource area with almost …www.eurostarconferences.com600 software testing presentations, 50 topicalwebinars, over 40 videos and podcasts and 20 experteBooksDo you know that membership is completely free and you can access thesepremium testing resources anytime?Join today!http://www.eurostarconferences.com/community/member@esconfs#esconfs

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