The Big Exploratory Testing Rolling Strategy Dice

Marlon Brando said in a role he played: “People win with loaded dice“…
This is the exercise we’re building today, loaded dices – for the win!


…I get by with a little help from my friends. One of the friends at work who pushes me into all sort of good experiences is Issi Hazan. At this example, he invited me to join him in a testing class for the Tech-Career project (a social wellbeing program in Israel that works with immigrants from Ethiopia to form them and prepare them for a job in the High-Tech industry. They were mentioned at this old post about building a portfolio, and at work we volunteer by giving them coding and testing classes).

Issi’s aim is to teach the group strategies for Exploratory Testing.
But how to do that in a single short out-of-the blue session? How do you convey the strategy, heuristics, coverage models, quality criteria in a practical easy-to-get form? How to make it dynamic and not-boring?

In this post we want to run through you this idea for an aiding tool for the instruction — and the execution too — of tests of exploratory nature.

Many strategies employ clueing techniques: Creativity Cards like the Creative Whack Pack, “Prime Me” clues like the ones in Session Tester (hmmm… soon a feature of Rapid Reporter?), Brainstorming techniques… Clueing techniques give you one hint, and your objective/experience/context will use the clue to progress and get unstuck.

So here’s where the clueing ‘Rolling Strategy Dice‘ come:

As you see in the video above, the dice will roll one of six Product Elements SFDPOT (from James Bach) and one of twelve Quality Characteristics CRUCSPICSTMP (from The Test Eye team).
So a throw of dices can bring “Function” and “Reliability“. Ok, so how would you study the function aspect of your product from a Reliability point of view? Go on, map the functions that are essential and have the user’s trust. Map the functions that can bring the overall system to unreliable states. And so on!
Your next throw of dice can be “Structure” and “Charisma“. This one is interesting too. Look at all the non-executable files. Is the product folder organized, even attractive? Or it is a mess that scares users away? How’s the product code?

So that’s the idea. We suggest it as a method for taking a class through some of the ideas, heuristics and mnemonics we use when testing; and for use in day to day testing as a complementary tool.

How to use:

  1. Online Version: The dice can be used online for free in courses or day to day tests at this link.
  2. Build your own: The templates (Thanks Rikard Edgren!) can be downloaded at ExploratoryTestingDice.pdf.

What do you think?

18 thoughts on “The Big Exploratory Testing Rolling Strategy Dice”

  1. Thanks Shmuel,

    Your experience helped me lot in my testing career. i have made exploratory dice for myself to implement this initiative.

    Thank you so much

    1. James, this is very nice!
      And although with a different strategy, the objective is the same. Rikard Edgren calls the Big Exploratory Testing Dice the Lateral Thinking Dice, because they attain this effect the cards do.
      Cool idea, cool addition!

  2. Shmuel, this is very good!
    I can’t imagine a better exercise for lateral testing.
    I have built my own (in too thin paper), physical dice add tactility, and has better charisma (for me.)

  3. Hi Shmuel,
    And that’s not part of your tool yet? :-(
    We definitely need to add periodic idea generation to all testing tools and ALMs.
    It can be used while planning tests (though at that stage pre-made Mind-Maps might do better), during scripted testing to encourage some out of the box thinking, and of course during exploratory testing, when you feel stuck.
    Heuristics is one issue, Testing Tips can be another, and to make people start reading, I would love to see some RSS feeds from blogs and sites.

    This Mix & Match idea is another level, as it combines several aspects into a multi-level item (a bit like complicated scenario testing), now the hard part is to properly define the right dimensions to mix – then we can either use a randomizer, or pair-wise algorithm.

    Anyhow – this is a lovely idea for course or pre-exam practice as you mentioned – When do we get it as a web service / app ? :-)

    halperinko – Kobi Halperin

  4. Hi Shmuel,

    I like the way you combined two things here.; Exploratory Testing and (RST) testing heuristics. Unfortunately understanding of these is, to my knowledge, not so widespread or deep as one would wish. So maybe a small introduction (or links) would be a consideration.

    My initial enthusiasm was tempered a bit by the amount of possible combinations. But I came to realize this is also an opportunity to promote out of the box thinking and achieving deeper understanding of the elements and characteristics themselves and their relation to software (testing).

    Great post and it is definitely something I will try and use.

    Regards,

    Arborosa

    1. Hi Jean-Paul!
      I’ll be glad to post an introduction. I’m thinking of it now, but will follow-up with you on email so we build it together.

      Regarding the combinations, yes, there are many and not all are easy — but none of them is compulsory :). In case you don’t feel value in one of the combined results, roll the dice again :).

  5. Brilliant Shmuel!

    This is something I definitely will try out with our students in a course that starts next week.

    What I like with this is that you are forced to combine the two and try to think of something that would matter in the specific context.
    It is a lateral thinking exercise that not only help you come up with new test ideas, it is also a great opportunity for coming up with new quality characteristic sub-categories.

    In the case of “Structure” and “Charisma” that you brought up, it is really a new area of Charisma that I haven’t thought of before. Great!

    Cheers, Henrik

    1. Henrik, thanks for your comment, I’m glad you see value.
      Let know how the course goes? It will be interesting to compare notes from my class to your class.

      Ha! I can think of many “Charisma” facets! In fact, what sold me to your (Test Eye’s) list of characteristics was the charisma one. I like it a lot, and it was missing from all others :).

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