Wednesday, February 18, 2009

I found a bug!

Yes, I found a bug and it made me so happy! Last Saturday we deployed a new release of a PDM system at a large company and everything was going fine. We had all new components in place and were testing to make sure we hadn't missed anything when I decided to test something we hadn't changed in this release. Why? Well, it was a case of "Why not?" combined with "The wrong place". I need to come up with a good name for this combination of heuristics/triggers that I find useful. "Why not?" is, in my book, simply applying a punk attitude and question the system profoundly blended with a bit of reckless abandon, also very much punk. In this case it led me to "The wrong place". The wrong place is any part that is not affected by the changes deployed. Or any place of the system where I believe that the changes I test have any impact at all. So I decided to test input that produced a problem in one part of the system, where we had made changes, in a completely different place. This place also being one that handles input in a totally different way for different purposes and in this case a place that was not affected by the changes we deployed.

I did find a bug! The tester in me was excited and happy and knowing the system well, having been a developer on this system for several years now, I also realized that this is an easy bug to exterminate. Since we were deploying a new release in the production environment we didn’t do anything about the bug other than make a note of it.

Had I not been thinking for myself and used my testing tools the bug would still be there. Undetected, unreported and unsolved. The bug wasn’t critical but it still was a bug that caused loss of information, loss of meta data in this case, unreported and difficult to detect since you would have to know that there was supposed to be more information than you see. It’s never easy to spot what isn’t there! "What’s missing?"is a trigger I use when testing. It demands creativity and an open mind and is something I constantly have to remind myself of using. Is something missing here? Could there be something missing here? In most cases I find that if there is a time you ever needed an oracle this is it! Go talk to the developer, if available, or RTFM. Anything, or anyone, that can provide you with more information.

I'm still learning and I get excited when the tools I've learnt to use works so well.


  1. Cool. I like the question, "Why not?". I wish more testers asked that question when their managers or developers tried putting them in a trap.

  2. Thanks Pradeep. I find Why Not? Very useful in many contexts.
    - You don't need to test that!
    - Why not?

    - No one will do that! You don't need to go there!
    - Why not?

    This list can be endless...