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Functional Test Workshop from the Agile Alliance

by Mark Levison on Jul 24, 2008 |

The second Agile Alliance Functional Testing Tools Workshop is being held the day before Agile 2008 (Monday August 4). This is the second workshop being held this year and its goal is “advance the state of the art of automated functional testing tools used by Agile teams to automate customer-facing tests”.

From the charter of the AAFTT mailing list, Agile testers find a need: “for automated tools that are not well served by traditional record-and-playback GUI drivers. As requirements specifications, functional tests must be readable: clear, succinct, and expressed in the language of the business domain. As an automated safety net, the tests must be maintainable: built with reusable domain specific testing language components, easy to change as the requirements change”

The upcoming workshop is being organized as an Open Space event which means the participants will drive the agenda. According to Jennitta Andrea, workshop coordinator, the previous event discover a number of roles that want better tools:

  • Author (customer, product owner, subject matter expert, tester,
    business analyst, tech writer, user experience designer, etc)
  • Reader (to validate: product owner, business analyst, compliance
    officer; to develop: programmer, tester, ux designer, operations
    support; other: tech writer, trainer,etc)
  • Executer (tester, programmer, subject matter expert, operational
    support, marketing, sales engineer, tech writer,etc)

At the workshop last year, Elisabeth Hendrickson did a lightening talk called “A Place to Put Things”. Elisabeth believes that one the key values provided by the xUnit testing tools is their simple organisation. The tools only provided a few places to put test related code: setup, test, teardown, suite setup, suite teardown. With such a simple organization developers are forced to focus on writing tests in small chunks. She feels that the existing functional testing tools lack this simplicity.

A number of people have already stated what they would like to get out of this year’s workshop. Gerad Meszaros proposed one approach to the day:

I'd like to see us do an "envisioning session" in which we take a first cut at defining the product we want to build. Naturally, this vision will evolve over time but we need to start with a target for the 1.0 product. Some activities I would propose include:

1. A life-cycle model for the tool -

  • When would it be used in the lifecycle of the product it is being used to test?
  • Who would be involved in using (roles, responsibilities, skill levels)
  • Some specific usage scenarios for key points in that lifecycle

2. Come up with the Elevator Statement and a Product Box to help us communicate the vision to people after the workshop

Jennitta would like to see the workshop be:

a 'living example' of 'example-driven development'. By that I mean, I'd like to have a group of people get together to apply the practices/techniques that are involved in example driven development to specify the key features of a "functional testing tool" that fully supports the end-end business process of 'example driven development'.

Brain Marick feels that missing software isn’t the real pain here, instead the problem is many people not recognizing a good quality test let alone knowing how to write one.

Ward Cunningham, creator of the original wiki: “I suspect there will be a tool at the center of the next advance in testing. The tool will enable the advance, but it won't be the advance. Like with jUnit, the tool will be useful before the advance has happened, but, when the books are written, they will devote far more attention to the practices surrounding the tool than the tool itself.”

If you want to join Jeff Patton (event facilitator), Jennitta and the others (at no cost, the room is being donated by the Agile Alliance), then apply for an invitation via the Agile 2008 submissions system:

  1. Login to the submission system (create an account if you don't have
    one already). NOTE: make sure your email address is correct.
  2. Click the 'propose a session' link to request an invitation,
    filling in the following required fields:
    - title: enter RFI <your name>
    - stage: select 'AAFTT'
    - session type: select 'other'
    - duration: select any of the values (not relevant for the RFI process)
    - summary: briefly answer the following three questions
    i) What do you see as the biggest issue for Functional
    Testing Tools on Agile projects?
    ii) What do you hope to contribute?
    iii) What do you hope to get?
  3. Click 'create'
    The AAFTT stage producers will review the RFI, and send you an
    invitation to attend the workshop, along with further instructions for
    pre-organizing openspace sessions.

Last years workshop was previously covered on InfoQ as: “Next-Generation Functional Testing

Videos of lightening talks from last year are also online.

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