Sunday, April 1, 2012

What I learned in 3 days of RST Training

I'll start be noting this post doesn't include a complete list of things I learned in the training. The reality is that it's been 4 days since the training and I keep learning and understanding things differently. This describes the RST training really well. This course is not just about information and tricks. It will lift you up on a whole new level.

Testing is often understood as asking questions of/from the product. The course will give you hands-on exercises around questions. You will learn what to ask, how to ask, how to find information etc. You will also learn how to deal with situations when the replies are vague or non-existing.

Testers often need information and help, but feel alone with their challenges. You will learn to use resources in a creative manner. As an example, in one testing exercise, I realized I can gather information faster by asking from others what they found out instead of trying to solve the puzzle by myself. When time is limited, you need to be able to be creative with information gathering and this you will be learning each day on various exercises.

Software testing without tools can be a fun thing, but you will limit your testing if you do everything manually. This course will show you diverse tools, including for example randomizers and hacking applications, that help you along the way. When this happens, people will start telling about the tools they use in their testing. If you listen carefully, you will learn about many tools that help you in your testing. As an example, I taught a course colleague to use 3 different tools in one evening while we discussed about philosophy and ethics around web service testing.

Many times we see testers having fights around ethics in testing. RST includes a lot of philosophical discussion and examples about ethics. Not only you will learn what things to avoid but you will also learn how to deal with those situations and what things you can offer instead. You will learn to say no and advice what else to do.

Testers often find themselves in situations where they feel their words were taken out of context or misinterpreted. In RST you will learn to use safety language more effectively and you will learn why it's important to be used. You will not say anymore silly things like "we can ship this product", but you will advice the manager in charge to understand the results of your testing. You will not say "the product doesn't have bugs" because that could result in losing your credibility 5 seconds after a public release.

Commonly testers are talking about boundary testing, BVA and ECP. You will learn what boundary testing actually is. No, not the ISTQB version where you have a formula that fits in all situations. You will learn what it actually means, what is required from a tester and why it's simply wrong to say "most bugs are found around boundaries". You will also learn that the reason to this claim is because you are mostly testing around the boundaries! By clever examples and exercises, you will learn how this goes in real life.

A big part of tester's work is reporting. RST will teach you the different levels of reports, how you should do the reporting and what will give the most value to the stakeholders. After the course, you will see all reports with different eyes. Reporting used to take a big part of your time, but you will now be ready with tools and techniques that help you to minimize "waste work".

Often testers say their work is repetitive and doesn't need creativity. Yep, you guessed correctly, RST will teach you to think and work differently. You will learn to do testing in the hard way, which is also the most rewarding way. You won't anymore see the fake simplicity in software testing problems. Your eyes will open and soon you will find yourself doing the kind of testing that the big guys were talking about.

Oh yeah, and this is pretty much the first day!

RST = Required for all Software Testers

I’ll start by saying I am sorry the trilogy ( is missing the last part. The last part has been coming up a long time already, but due to some excuses, I have been delaying it. I will focus on it again, but currently I have something more urgent in my mind: RST (held by James Bach) and this whole week in Bucharest.
I was able to convince my boss to send me to Bucharest for the whole week to participate to RST and a peer-conference. I can’t actually take the whole credit for it; my boss is fantastic, really supportive and saw this as a great investment from many points of view. After the week, I’ll say to all the bosses around there who care about testing/quality: make the investment!

Before the RST begun, I made a list of questions I want to ask from James and a list of things I want to learn. Little did I know… but here are a few things I listed: how RST works in my context with projects that last sometimes years, how will this make me a better tester, and how will my reporting skills increase with 3 days of training. If RST would be anything like a traditional training, those would be really good questions, and maybe they still are, but what you get from RST is far more than that.

The whole idea of RST training rolls around doing exercises, showing the weak points of poor testing and challenging everyone mentally. RST gives tools to do excellent testing, including what are important questions and for example why testing nearby some (imaginary) boundaries is just not enough.  Now I’ve read earlier that RST should have more hands-on exercises. I counted we did at least 25 exercises which most comprised of multiple stages, a lot of verbal reporting, discussions with various stakeholders and applying RST in practice. Please bear in mind this is only a part of the training. It’s unbelievable how much of information you receive in these 3 intense days!

James is the toughest teacher I have ever seen and the better you do, the more he will push you. This is because he wants you to learn, not because he is mean. He has incredible skills to read people and activate their minds. Getting an answer from him is sometimes difficult, but if you are persistent enough, he will make you answer your own question! Like I noted earlier, this training gives you much more than you will ever imagine. You will understand even reporting on a whole new level after the course.

Quite commonly I use a lot of safety language and after a training I could say something in the lines of “I think I did pretty well because I had some good ideas”. Now there is nothing wrong in this, but this time I can say “I did really well because I had sharp questions, I talked about philosophy of testing and I showed I care strongly about testers’ ethics.” Why am I so confident, some might say overconfident, to state something like that? Because James is also a rewarding teacher and he Tweeted about it! In my world, this means the people who care about testing just all got to know a bit about me. What other training could possibly have anything even close to that?

If you want to participate in the course, but have hard time convincing your manager to get the funds approved, please send me an e-mail. I will be happy to help. It’s not about if your company can afford this, but more if they can afford not sending you to the training. It is maybe the most important training of your whole professional career. We need to make it happen!

Note: I need to do the training with Michael Bolton, too. Hopefully this year, but latest on next year.