A friend called me yesterday asking for help. He could not find the exact scenario for a critical bug he was trying to report.
We sat and after the third reproduction I started seeing a pattern, within 5 minutes of playing together with the bug we got to the exact reproduction scenario.
This is an example (although not the most common!) of Pair-Testing.
Pair-Testing is the exercise where a pair of testers (or any other pair of people) perform tests TOGETHER (using only one interface with the AUT), with the objective of complementing each other with their backgrounds, points-of-view, experience, knowledge, or even luck. This is one of those examples where “controlled noise” provides synergistic results.
The principle is simple: an additional person that looks at what your are doing and thinks about additional or different operations. (Nothing fancy, but then again most genial things seldom are…)
Surprisingly enough not many testers use (or know about) Pair-Testing regularly, and even less Organizations have it as an encouraged or accepted testing approach. But those who start using it understand it’s strengths and keep using it on those situations where it provides added value to the system.
When can you use Pair-Testing?
– When you think that you’ve tested enough and are not able to detected significant new bugs
– When you feel “tester’s block” and need to get some new energy into your process
– When creating user scenarios on new or existing functionality
– When you need to find important bugs fast (creeping deadline, sudden patch, etc).
– When you are not able to pin-point the root-cause of a bug or problem.
The drawbacks of Pair-Testing:
– It employees the time of 2 people instead of one.
– Not all 2 people can work together like this, sometimes you are not able to coordinate the efforts and communicate correctly with your partner.
– It’s not always trivial when to stop working together, you need to define a good exit criteria.
I suggest you try it next time you run into a situation where an additional pair of eyes might make all the difference…
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