Ep 69: Talking ‘Bout My Generation

AKA: Test Idea Generation

News! I have a Patreon. This covers both LTATB and my other, new podcast Inner Pod. If you do want to Patreon the show specifically you can choose the LTATB tier, and then the money will go firstly to hosting costs, then for equipment for me and Matt, travel, etc.

Testsphere cards are here! I’ve shown my pack to a few people and they’ve wanted to know where they can buy them. Well you can back them here and you should get the cards around March!

Now, onto the show!

This week we’re discussing test idea generation. Mindmap can be found here in various formats:



We talk about:

Where to start? Talk to people!

  • “Just play with the product” seems like an easy answer but do you always know how to do this? Maybe its not the best place to start…
  • You can start by talking to people – specifically customers about they use the product, project managers about the risks they’re concerned about or what their expectations are. You could even talk to other testers who might already have a lot of test ideas to hand!
  • Talking to customer support can also help give you a feel for what problems are regularly plaguing customers – not to mention problems that cost the support team time too!

Where next?

  • Observe usage, watch an end user use the product, listen to sales calls and what people might be looking for or look at logs and monitoring to see how people might be using the system.
  • Read user guides or documentation of the product, or try and write some! Writing documentation can help you think about further test ideas as you think about how to explain the product’s behaviour.
  • Maybe there are laws, regulations  or standards that the product has to adhere to? These can generate ideas for tests, such as ideas around how the product might not comply with them or could be interpreted in different ways.
  • Existing test documentation such as test cases or mind maps can help provide ideas too!
  • Sometimes looking at existing bug reports or customer complaints can provide ideas that you may not have thought of.
  • Consider what kind of testing you are doing? Are you performing mainly functional testing? Could you apply a different lense and think from a different perspective such as from a performance, security, usability or accessability perspective? What about localisation or compliance?
  • Considering boundary testing specifically can help generate ideas as we tend to overlook this quite often.

Test Community

  • You can find test ideas around the community such as great cheat sheets like this one.
  • There are also lots of testing mnemonics.
  • Attending meetups and conferences can help provide new ideas to try in your work.
  • Naturally reading blogs and podcasts can also help!

I’ve honestly tried everything I can think of? What else is there?

  • Maybe you can learn more about the technology that the product is built upon. Understanding how it works underneath can provide ideas (such as the boundary testing example if you knew that the product relied on a database that was set to only allow 255 character strings).
  • Some ideas can come from the perculiarities or weaknesses of the technologies underneath. An obvious example of this is SQL Injection with MySQL databases.
  • Different technology comes with different risks, understanding more about these definitely helps guide your testing too. For example, with a system that depends upon message queues, what happens when the queue is full? What happens if the queue is not available?
  • What about pair programming or code reviewing with developers? Understanding specifics regarding how the product has been developed can help inform you of areas of weakness and has other benefits too.


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