Ouch! You Touched Right Where it Hurts Most!

Ouch! You Touched Right Where it Hurts Most!

Maybe some of you also enjoy physical therapy and also experienced this: your therapist looks at you, moves his or her hands and – pokes right deeply into the spot that hurts most. And how many of you testers have been asked: How could you find that error right away, you just started testing? It is so miraculous!

I guess, it is about the same magic, we wise people of test and phyical therapy apply: no magic! But thinking about it, there are some parallels in our professions. Let us look in more detailed way at the question:

How come you found the error without seeing the internals of the code?

Physical therapy seems to relate to black box testing – the therapist does not see the internals of the system under test – oops, body under test. Really? They do see hints at what is happening below the skin: bad posture, stiff muscles, … as we testers see hints of what is happening below the skin, oops UI, by looking at the typical building blocks of a system under test.

On top, both of us have a picture of the underlying architecture of the body of test. The therapist knows skeleton, muscles, nerves, and much more, from theory and from touching the body of test. We testers know the technical architecture, we know the typical implications of the UI (like what to do when testing a date field), and we have touched so many UIs that we understand what typically should happen.

How come you found the error so fast?

The quick answer is: experience. For both of us. To go a bit more into detail: we testers know from our heuristics, be it explicit or gut feeling, where to start. We start with a first look at the system under test and its structure and then pick the right approach. Without beeing a therapist, I am convinced that they have a similar toolset they use. Your client complains about a stiff neck, is a computer worker and her right shoulder is higher than the other? Poke the trigger point relating to that…

And sometimes maybe, we need to show off a bit: I know what I am doing, trust me, I am an expert ­čÖé

And it hurts so much!

Let us talk about emotions. Being the body of test, it hurts if the therapist pokes a trigger point. But I can accept the pain, it is part of the deal and I trust the therapist it will help to get better. As system under test, I probably do not have feelings, but the developer of the system under test does have them. For us as testers it is important to build a trust relationship with the developers in order to be able to help them and have a great result together. We will get better as both will learn and improve. I have not heard of feedback cycles in physical therapy (I am only the body under test, not the therapist) – but definitely the therapist captures feedback – from my body, from my squeaks. I actually wonder, if they have something like a “fail fast” approach…

It is still magic!

Yes it is. It is good old witch craft! Wise women (and men) just do their work, based on experience and knowledge.

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