Category Archives: Agile

The wrong type of glue?

I kept on hearing the same kinds of grumbles on the floor and in retrospectives. The team were basicaly saying, we are being forced to use the wrong type of glue. The team are a pasinate lot, and so full and frank debates would flourish on which was the best type of glue, and who knew how best to apply it.

a selection of glues
Which glue is best for Baths?

Because i’d heard these grumbles a few times, i started to wonder why my awesome team were still struggling over what seemed trivial to me, just choose one and try it, right?

That is until it dawned on me.  What on earth are they trying to glue back together?

The bath, as it turns out.

The problem with gluing the bath was explained to me in great detail, some glues would leave an ugly stain, while others were very messy to handle, some other types of glue would set before the bath was stuck together again, and in most cases the glue wasnt water proof and the bath would leak. Despite this, the team were determined to get this right, they would get the bath glued together!

a bath in two halves
How to best stick the bath back together again?

Why is the bath in two halves? Seems like an obvious question now, but somehow i hadn’t asked that of the team.

“We cut the bath in half because it didn’t fit, someone ordered the wrong size bath” came the reply. So focused on delivery, the team hadnt stopped to think about telling the customer the batch was the wrong size, they just reached for the saw and cut it in half.

Obviously we haven’t stopped writing code, and invested in plumbing, i’m using a metaphor that describes what we have been doing for the last couple of months really well. In fact i can extend it a little further.

When i asked one of the dev team leads why they cut the bath in half, they suggested that they had been told to do so, but had they misunderstood what was being said?

When they had told foggy, the tech lead that they had an issue with the bath, he focused in so tightly on the problem that he only suggested that their plumbing was very complicated and that complexity was storing up technical debt that would be hard to pay down later, began to show them how they should improve and simplify it, he missed the fact that the bath was in two completely. They took his ignorance of the matter as acceptance of the fact.

To compound matters further, when JRH one of the BAs, thought he was being pragmatic in his approach, the developers actually took what he was saying as, stop crying about the glue and just do it. It turns out the BA didnt know the bath was in two either. He had made the same assumption as me, what’s so hard about choosing a glue?

How did this happen? I’m not entirly sure, but i have identified several problems that have grown like mould on a loaf of bread, slow and sure until it becomes unpalatable.

The good news is that the team obviously want to work and want to deliver, so eager to do so, that they made a decision that would allow them to continue to work. In doing so they unwittingly slipped down the rabbit hole.

In my next post i’ll explain how we are dealing with the fat end of the Business Requirement funnel, and this is causing the team to thrash.

Of Agile, ThoughtWorks, Selenium and Fitnesse

I have set up this blog to capture some of the problems we are bound to run into over the next 60 days.

I work for a well known (read busy) commercial website in the UK. We currently use a traditional waterfall approach to our software development life cycle, and we are under pressure to deliver more, and deliver it more frequently.

I am an ISEB certified Test Practitioner and I supported by two testers on my Team. Martin, a test analyst, who has achieved his ISEB/ISTQB Foundation certificate in software testing, and Robert, a junior test analyst who will be taking his foundation training later this year.

We are all aligned to thinking about software testing in the same way. That is, we have a clear set of requirements (be they, technical, business or design) and we test against those; simple no?

However in the real world it is never that cut and dried, and often requirements are thin, late or non existent, and (of course) liable to change at the drop of a hat. This is compounded further by the businesses increasing frustration at having to wait for a simple change to be implemented; we are only talking about a website here right? It’s not like we are trying to boil the ocean.

Cue Music – Enter ThoughtWorks.

Somewhere along the way the business got to hear of ThoughtWorks, a company that can offer (among other services) a helping hand for any software house wishing to become Agile. I don’t want to talk too much about ThoughtWorks and our relationship with them, because I only want to focus on the Testing aspect of becoming Agile, and because I could fill another blog with chatter about working with ThoughtWorks.

Anyhoo, we are a Linux, Apache, J2EE & Oracle house. So it felt right that we should use Selenium for our automated testing. ThoughtWorks originally created selenium so it felt right to use it with them. We have looked at Selenium in the past and I have used selenium scripts with the most excellent Reality QA product from the guys at GOMEZ (more on that later).

A couple of interesting points about selenium; Selenium is a chemical element with the atomic number 34 and is represented by the chemical symbol Se. Selenium can be found naturally in nuts (Brazil nuts are the richest ordinary dietary source), cereals, meat (such as kidney), fish (shellfish such as crab and lobster), and eggs.
Selenium is often touted as “The cure for mercurial poisoning” (being poisoned by Mercury), and any tester can tell you that Mercury produced (before being bought by HP) some highly priced automated test tools of the variety that “require plug-ins” to do anything more ordinary than record and playback (Test Director for instance). So I think the developers of selenium thought it would be funny to name their product Selenium. I think however that the last laugh may be on them, because selenium is not actually an antidote to mercury poisoning, it’s just a chelating agent for heavy metals including mercury and although selenium is an essential trace element, it is toxic if taken in excess. There is no known antidote to selenium poisoning.

Of Agile, ThoughtWorks, Selenium and Fitnesse

I have set up this blog to capture some of the problems we are bound to run into over the next 60 days.

I work for a well known (read busy) commercial website in the UK. We currently use a traditional waterfall approach to our software development life cycle, and we are under pressure to deliver more, and deliver it more frequently.

I am an ISEB certified Test Practitioner and I supported by two testers on my Team. Martin, a test analyst, who has achieved his ISEB/ISTQB Foundation certificate in software testing, and Robert, a junior test analyst who will be taking his foundation training later this year.

We are all aligned to thinking about software testing in the same way. That is, we have a clear set of requirements (be they, technical, business or design) and we test against those; simple no?

However in the real world it is never that cut and dried, and often requirements are thin, late or non existent, and (of course) liable to change at the drop of a hat. This is compounded further by the businesses increasing frustration at having to wait for a simple change to be implemented; we are only talking about a website here right? It’s not like we are trying to boil the ocean.

Cue Music – Enter ThoughtWorks.

Somewhere along the way the business got to hear of ThoughtWorks, a company that can offer (among other services) a helping hand for any software house wishing to become Agile. I don’t want to talk too much about ThoughtWorks and our relationship with them, because I only want to focus on the Testing aspect of becoming Agile, and because I could fill another blog with chatter about working with ThoughtWorks.

Anyhoo, we are a Linux, Apache, J2EE & Oracle house. So it felt right that we should use Selenium for our automated testing. ThoughtWorks originally created selenium so it felt right to use it with them. We have looked at Selenium in the past and I have used selenium scripts with the most excellent Reality QA product from the guys at GOMEZ (more on that later).

A couple of interesting points about selenium; Selenium is a chemical element with the atomic number 34 and is represented by the chemical symbol Se. Selenium can be found naturally in nuts (Brazil nuts are the richest ordinary dietary source), cereals, meat (such as kidney), fish (shellfish such as crab and lobster), and eggs.
Selenium is often touted as “The cure for mercurial poisoning” (being poisoned by Mercury), and any tester can tell you that Mercury produced (before being bought by HP) some highly priced automated test tools of the variety that “require plug-ins” to do anything more ordinary than record and playback (Test Director for instance). So I think the developers of selenium thought it would be funny to name their product Selenium. I think however that the last laugh may be on them, because selenium is not actually an antidote to mercury poisoning, it’s just a chelating agent for heavy metals including mercury and although selenium is an essential trace element, it is toxic if taken in excess. There is no known antidote to selenium poisoning.