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Vanilla Flavour Testing

I have been pairing with a new developer colleague recently. In our last session he asked me "is this normal testing?" saying that he'd never seen anything like it anywhere else that he'd worked. We finished the task we were on and then chatted about his question for a few minutes. This is a short summary of what I said.

I would describe myself as context-driven. I don't take the same approach to testing every time, except in a meta way. I try to understand the important questions, who they are important to, and what the constraints on the work are. With that knowledge I look for productive, pragmatic, ways to explore whatever we're looking at to uncover valuable information or find a way to move on.

I write test notes as I work in a format that I have found to be useful to me, colleagues, and stakeholders. For me, the notes should clearly state the mission and give a tl;dr summary of the findings and I like them to be public while I'm working not just when I'm done. I use notes to keep track of test ideas, hypotheses, findings, coverage, evidence, and so on. I am pleased when someone notices something I've missed or a mistake I've made because it means I have the opportunity to learn and correct. Because I am context-driven, I also sometimes don't write test notes in this way.

I have worked hard to reduce the friction in my work by finding practices that keep me in flow. This includes browser shortcuts and extensions, command line aliases, scripts for common tasks, and small applications that exercise the systems I regularly test in ways that I can tune for specific scenarios as a jumping off point for further exploration.

Across all of those factors, I'm precious about my work and keen to share everything and anything about it with anyone who is interested. I strive to remain humble and I actively seek out opportunities to do work I haven't done before in order to test myself and acquire knowledge about other areas of tech, our domain, working practices, or anything else that I think might be handy to know now or maybe later. I unashamedly think of what I do as a craft and I have internalised so much of it that it's second nature now.

Is this normal testing? Well, there are many ways to test the same thing and for sure there will be better ways to test some of the things I've tested. Does that make it normal? Well, it's normal for me, but perhaps I can put it like this: in my experience, it's not vanilla flavour testing.
Image: https://flic.kr/p/amiSFK

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