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Spectacular Testing Circus

Two-day workshop


Roll up for Ben & Ilari’s spectacular testing circus! Our gates are open for both testers and developers alike. The lion tamers and the clowns welcome a healthy mix of both for the show. Take your seats. We’ll dim the lights. The stage will soon be set for spectacles and wonders. Enjoy the show!

This two-day interactive workshop sheds light on some of the most important fundamentals in software testing. Each section has a short introduction followed by a practical exercise or a game. Participation is not compulsory, but strongly encouraged. 

Course Outline

What is Testing?

Yes, what exactly is software testing? What is the value of our work as software testers? We will reflect on our activity and on what our “product” is. There will be a game with 6 phases.

Good Bug Reporting

Effective bug reporting is a skill that needs practice and thought. We will explore questions around bug reporting like – What elements make a bug report most useful to stakeholders? Should I report a bug or not? What exactly is a bug anyway? You’ll see bugs from many different perspectives and grow your skills in an area that is as much about mediation as it is about troubleshooting.

Note Taking and Mindmapping

Results of testing are much more than pass or fail. What have you found? What is it telling you? How you take notes can make all the difference in terms of gaining insights and generating new test ideas. Mind maps are a great way to spatially represent your thinking and the anatomy of what you’re testing. We will dive deep into effective techniques for capturing your tests and your thoughts.

The Mission of Testing

You might have a lot of good ideas about how to test, but what about the ‘why’? In this hands-on session, we’ll delve into the ‘why’ of testing. Like any testing project, not all is as it seems.   

Software Testing Metrics

Not everything that can be measured makes sense. On the contrary, many of the usual testing metrics convey a false image of the state of a project. We’ll take a look at the most commonly (ab)used metrics, and discuss the intricacies of surrogate measurements, goal displacement and construct validity.

Checking vs. Experimentation

An important semantic distinction. We will explore explicit confirmatory checking and implicit experimentation and discuss in depth the value of technical and non-technical testing.

Hiring Testers

How do you spot good testers? What do you look for in CVs? How do you conduct interviews that will give you an insight into future behaviour? Your hiring decisions can make or break your team. We’ll look at some strategies for making smart, informed hiring choices.

Day 2


As much as we’d like software development to fit into the neat boxes we create for it, it never does. How do you handle the complexities and unexpected curve balls you face as your project progresses? The Cynefin sense-making framework is an adaptive lens through which to makes sense of ‘now’. We’ll introduce Cynefin and talk about techniques to adapt to the unpredictable.

Agile Planning for Testers

In the hectic realm of short sprints, stories, tight feedback loops, it can be hard to know where software testing fits in. There’s no testing ‘phase’ and no time to write long test case suites. Instead, testing is a continuous activity that involves the whole team. We’ll have a look at how testers navigate an agile environment and strategies to bring add real value and promote team ownership of quality.

Communication and Reporting

Your testing is only as good as your ability to report it effectively. Our stakeholders rely on us to keep them informed, so it’s vital that the information we deliver is timely, relevant and consumable by our audience. In this session, we explore different reporting styles and approaches to help you get the most out of the work you’ve put in.


Effective modelling is crucial in understanding your product and how to test it. This entertaining, interactive session allows participants to flex their model building muscles.

How to Learn

The environment testers operate in changes on a seemingly daily basis. Project needs shift constantly, technology continues to evolve at breakneck speed, it can be difficult to know what to focus on. One thing is for sure – it is vital that testers continue to learn and grow. We’ll look at some habits and patterns you can employ to do that effectively.   

Generation of Test Ideas

The design of a test is not a straightforward matter. In order to come up with good ideas, we need to be able to tap into different thinking techniques – lateral thinking, systems thinking, scientific thinking and more in order to come up with good test design.

A Tester’s Toolbox

McLuhan said ‘We shape our tools and thereafter our tools shape us’. What tools do we as testers have in our tool box? How do you curate your own tool box in order to deliver valuable service to the project?

Observation in Testing

We have five senses we can use to make observations of the outside world. Touch, smell, taste, hearing and sight. These senses act as entry points into our brain. As the amount of information we perceive is far too large, there are powerful filter mechanisms in place. Sometimes the obvious remains unnoticed. Now, how do you improve your observation capabilities? What does brilliant observation mean? Can you deliberately exercise it?